Sales of premium compact cars Europe are back to their 2015 volume after peaking at almost 940.000 units in 2016. With nearly 874.000 sales in 2017, the segment accounts for 5,6% of the total European car market, down from 6,1% the year before. The average age of the models in this segment is relatively high which explains some of the decline. The top-10 models ranking is exactly the same as 2016 but there have been some individual fluctuations and we have a new leader in the brands ranking. Audi still holds the top spot with the A3, but its 14% loss means a 1,5 percentage point of lost share as its rivals are closing in. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is pretty stable for a model that will be renewed in 2018 and stays ahead of the BMW 1-series as both models add more than a full percentage point of share. As a result, this top-3 increases its share of the segment to 51% and they are the only nameplates with 6-figure sales. The BMW 2-Series Active and Gran Tourer MPVs are down 15% as they’re being updated early 2018, but at least they remain well ahead of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, whose next generation will also include a 7-seater option. In fifth place, Volvo is best of the rest as usual in the premium segments in Europe, with the V40 pretty stable at -6%.
The premium compact car segment in Europe loses volume for the third consecutive quarter in Q3 of 2017, with an 8% decline in sales. Year-to-date, the segment is down by 6% to nearly 671.000 sales. The ranking is relatively stable, but some individual models still show significant volume decreases or increases. The dominant segment leader Audi A3 is down 6% in the third quarter and its closest two rivals are closing in. The 2nd placed Mercedes-Benz A-Class improved 3% while the BMW 1-series saw stable sales in Q3. All three models have sold over 100.000 units so far this year and combined they control more than half of the segment. However, that does not paint the full picture, as Audi sells its hatchback, sedan and convertible models all under the A3 monicker, while Mercedes-Benz and BMW have split off some of those versions under different names. Mercedes-Benz is the segment leader in terms of brand sales, with the A-Class hatchback, B-Class MPV and CLA sedan and station wagon at 210.606 sales, stable on the year before. BMW follows closely with 205.950 sales of its 1-Series hatchback, 2-Series MPV and 2-series Coupe & Convertible as well as the i3 EV, down 2%.
Growth has stalled in the premium compact car segment in Europe, as the segment is down 8% in Q2 of 2017, leading to a 5% loss in the first half of the year to 468.243 sales. The ranking is relatively stable, but some individual models still show significant volume decreases or increases. The dominant segment leader Audi A3 is down 15% in the second quarter and sold just 4.500 cars more than the #2 Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The A-Class has enjoyed increasing interest from buyers, as it was one of the fastest growing models in the segment in 2016 and continues to gain share in 2017. It distances the BMW 1-series for which the facelift effect already appears to be wearing off. Sales were stable in Q2 reducing the first half gain to 8%. The next generation 1-Series will become more of a follower than an individualist, losing its rear wheel drive platform and the 6-cylinder engine option, as well as its somewhat controversial styling in favor of more vanilla styling and mechanics. Undoubtedly that will only help it increase sales further and to become a real challenger for the segment lead.
After outgrowing the overall market in 2016, the premium compact car segment in Europe appears to plateau in the first quarter of 2017 with sales down 1% in a market that continues to grow (+7,8%). The dominant segment leader is in trouble, as the Audi A3 loses 12% of its volume in the same period last year, while its nearest rivals continue to grow. The A3’s top spot is not yet in jeopardy, as the model still has an 11.000-unit advantage over its nearest rival, but its share of the segment has dipped to an all-time low of 20%. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class holds on to 2nd place by the skin of its teeth, as the BMW 1-series grows 16% to come within 300 sales of the A-Class. It will be interesting to see how the next generation 1-Series will perform when it gets front-wheel drive and loses the 6-cylinder option, making the current generation the last hatchback in its segment with those two features which are so important to enthusiasts but much less so for the average buyer. It will trade those qualities for more generic styling and more interior room.
With a bit of a delay we’ll start with the European segment analyses for 2016, starting of course with the minicar segment. Sales of minicars in Europe were stable in 2016 with 1,33 million units sold, compared to an overall market growth of 6,2%. Fiat still holds the top 2 spots of the podium and grows its share of the segment to over 28%, but after 3 years of Fiat 500 reign the Fiat Panda has reclaimed leadership of the segment it led from 2004 until 2012. The Volkswagen Up! holds on to its third place but loses 8% of its volume. The Renault Twingo, leader of the segment between 1999 and 2003, is knocked down into 5th place by the Hyundai i10 and feels the Toyota Aygo breathing down its neck. All three models lose volume in 2016. The Smart Fortwo is the biggest winner in the top-10 with sales up 21%, jumping four places on 2015 and two places on Q3 of 2016. The small two seater even outsold the Aygo in Q4. [Read more…]
With a bit of a delay we’ll start with the European segment analyses for the first three quarters of 2016, starting of course with the minicar segment. After growing 5% in the first half of the year, sales of Europe’s smallest cars have dropped in Q3, reducing the year-to-date growth rate to just 1%. The slowdown of the Volkswagen Up! and the Fiat Panda are largely responsible for this, and this has enabled the Fiat 500 to outsell its sibling in Q3 and threaten it for the segment’s full year top position which it has held since 2013. The third place of the Up! appears unthreatened, but the Renault Twingo has dropped from 4th place in the first half to 6th place after nine months after being outsold by the Toyota Aygo and Hyundai i10. The latter of these two was the #3 seller of the segment in Q3, even topping the little VW. The Lancia Ypsilon holds on to its 7th place, but all five of its closest challengers in places 8 to 12 were within 150 sales of each other in Q3 and all outsold the Ypsilon this quarter.
The minicar segment in Europe grows 5% in the first half of 2016, which is lower than the overall market at +8,8%. The two Italian segment leaders benefit from the impressive rebound of the Italian car market, the fastest growing major market in the EU. The Fiat Panda is more dependent on its home market than its sibling Fiat 500, and therefore is able to hold on to the segment lead, which it already claimed in the first quarter. The help Fiat hold a 28,5% share of the segment. The Volkswagen Up! remains a distant third with less than half the volume of the leader with sales down 5%, while the Renault Twingo reclaims its fourth place after having dropped to sixth in the first quarter. The rear-engined, rear-wheel drive Twingo lost a lot of ground in Q1 and has recovered only half of that in Q2, but should be able to hold on to its position for the rest of the year, with not a lot of new or updated models arriving in showrooms the coming months. The Toyota Aygo stays well clear of its PSA siblings Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1, while the Smart Fortwo is the biggest winner in the top-10 with an increase of 26%. It even outsold the 108 in Q2 and looks set to leapfrog the French minicar to steal 8th place. That’s still a long way from the fifth place it held in 2013 and before, but bear in mind there were fewer rivals back then, and the Forfour surely cannibalizes some Fortwo sales as well.
The minicar segment in Europe grows at half the pace of the overall market, at +4% in the first quarter of 2016. The two Italian segment leaders grow faster than the rest of the segment on average and boost their share from 26,4% to 29%, helped by the strong recovery of their home market so far this year. The Fiat Panda has overtaken the Fiat 500 to reclaim its leadership thanks to a very strong first two months, but I don’t think it will hold on to that lead until the end of the year, as the 500 has proven very strong, even though its facelift last year was only minor. The Volkswagen Up! loses 12% but holds on to its third place as last year’s closest rival Renault Twingo loses a painful 22% and drops to sixth place.[Read more…]
The growth in the minicar segment in Europe has slowed in the fourth quarter, as the segment ends 2015 with 1.332.146 sales, an increase of 8% after growing 10% in each of the first three quarters. The Fiat 500 manages to hold on to its title for the third year in a row despite stable sales as the 500 suffered slightly from a slow fourth quarter as the factory was still gearing up for the model’s first facelift in 7 years time. For Fiat it was the 12th consecutive year on top of the minicar segment since the Panda took over from the Renault Twingo in 2004. Fiat Panda sales were up 13% in 2015 as it closed the gap to its sibling the “Nuova Cinquecento” to less than 9.000 sales.
The Volkswagen Up! is in third place again, despite losing 16% of volume. In Q4 the little VW sold only 40 more units than the Twingo, which closes in for the full year with sales up 17%. The Toyota Aygo does even better at +25% thanks to the new generation. This helps the Aygo move past the Hyundai i10 into 5th place. Its siblings Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1 are a still behind the i10 in #7 and #8, which puts them above the Lancia Ypsilon, down 5% to a still respectable 60.000 sales. [Read more…]
After the first nine months of 2015 the minicar segment is still up by 10%, as it has been all year. It has been helped by a number of newcomers and model changes, which have also slightly eaten into the share of the segment leader Fiat 500, which sees flat sales as it’s been updated ever so slightly. Fiat obviously doesn’t want to mess too much with the model that’s kept it afloat for the last half a decade. The 500’s sibling Fiat Panda does better than the overall segment and closes in on the #1 spot it held until 2012.
The Volkswagen Up! has shaken off the Renault Twingo which had closed in on third place after the first half, but the little VW is still down 16% on last year, while the Twingo is up 22%. [Read more…]