Shock and horror at the top of the European car sales ranking: in March 2017 the Volkswagen Golf is not the best selling car in Europe, for the first time since at least 2011 (our monthly data only goes back to 2012) but likely since March 2010. The Ford Fiesta leads the ranking despite being due for replacement by the next generation, which has already been revealed. This is the result of two factors: firstly the Fiesta is boosted by its strength in the UK market, where it’s traditionally been the best seller, and which is traditionally the largest market in Europe in March, and secondly, the Golf is struggling after its recent facelift with sales down 18%, due to increased choice of in-house crossover alternatives with the new generation Tiguan and Seat Ateca. Still, this won’t be the beginning of the end of Golf domination, expect the model to continue to lead the charts for the rest of the year as it usually does. The Volkswagen Polo is third again, which means it outsells the Renault Clio for the first time since last October. For the second month in a row the Nissan Qashqai is the best selling crossover in Europe, also helped by its popularity in the UK where it’s produced. [Read more…]
March 2017 was a record month for European car sales, with 1,92 million units it was only 100.000 sales behind China, the world’s largest single car market. Helped by strong UK volume, March is traditionally the biggest selling month of the year, with about 11,5% of full year sales, so records are usually set this month. If the market as a whole sets a new volume record, a number of individual brands are naturally bound to do the same. And indeed, no less than 26 brands break their monthly volume record, which is half of all the brands currently on sale. I guess that may be a record by itself, although I didn’t check it. Especially luxury and exotic brands had a blockbuster month, with 17 record breakers out of 24 brands, compared to 9 new sales records out of 28 mainstream brands. [Read more…]
A record 1,92 million new cars were sold in Europe in March 2017. This is an increase of 10,5% over March last year and the highest monthly volume ever recorded. Part of the explanation for the surge in sales is that Easter fell in April this year instead of in March, like last year, which means dealers had extra selling days in 2017. Still, almost 2 million sales in a single month is an impressive figure and it even comes close to the 2,02 million sales in China this same month. March sales are usually around 11,5% of total annual volume, which extrapolates to an expected record 16,7 million sales in 2017. That would be an increase of 10,3% on 2015 and significantly higher than the previous record of 16,1 million sales in 2004.
All five of the big markets showed strong growth in March, with Italy (+18,2%), Spain (+12,6%) and Germany (+11,4%) leading the way with double digit gains, while the UK (+8,4%) and France (+7%) grow slightly slower than te rest of the market. 16 out of the 30 markets showed double digit gains and only 5 lost volume, all in single digits. The fastest growing market was Greece (+49,5%), recovering from its deep recession. In the first quarter, European car sales increased 7,8% to 4,22 million units. Italy was the fastest growing of the big markets at +11,9%. [Read more…]
After a stable January, and a promising 20,2% gain in February 2017, March car sales in China are back to modest growth with a 2,9% increase to just over 2 million units. To put that small year-on-year growth into perspective: March 2012 sales just topped the 1 million units, so the market has doubled in 5 years time. In that light, a 3% improvement is quite a slowdown. Then again, first quarter sales are up 6% to 5,78 million and that’s on par with expectations, as sales growth was expected to slow down into the single digits after the tax increase on cars with engines of 1,6 liters or smaller, which made up over 70% of total sales last year. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate stands at 23,5 million in March. SUVs and crossovers are the main (and only) winners in March with sales up 20% to 832.300 units, while sedans surprisingly show a loss of 4,9% to 990.200 sales (first quarter sales are up just 0,8%), and MPVs lose volume for the third month in a row at -15% to 199.300. The central government cut EV subsidies last January but when sales plummeted to almost a halt that month, the subsidies were quickly reinstated, and as a result Sales of New Energy vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) jumped 36% in March to 25.342 EVs and 5.778 PHEVs, but the Q1 figure is still down 4,7% to 44.333 EVs and 11.596 PHEVs. After domestic brands broke a new record share of 46,5% in February, foreign automakers struck back in March with their locally produced models as the share of the domestics dropped to 43,6%. [Read more…]
After the March and Q1 2016 European car sales analysis – brands, let’s zoom in on the model rankings. The entire top-8 loses market share which means the Volkswagen Golf consolidates its dominance with stable sales despite the arrival of new competitors Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane, while its nearest rivals are losing ground in March. The Ford Fiesta and Opel/Vauxhall Corsa both lose more than 10% and the Renault Clio drops almost 5%, while the YTD #2 Volkswagen Polo is down to 5th place this month. The Nissan Qashqai traditionally enjoys healthy sales in March thanks to its popularity in the UK, which sets it in 6th place, ahead of the Ford Focus and Peugeot 208. Helped by the new generation, the Astra is the fastest growing model in the top-20 and claims another top-10 position, while the Fiat 500 does so too for only the fourth time in the past 2 years and in fact since its modern rebirth in 2007.
While the Renault Captur stabilizes after its impressive surge in the rankings, the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka is passed by the Peugeot 2008. The Captur’s larger sibling Renault Kadjar improves to 29th place ahead of the Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Kuga and the Hyundai Tucson which drops from 24th last month to #38 in March. However, the new generation Kia Sportage has moved ahead of them all into #24 and second of the segment behind the untouchable Qashqai. [Read more…]
The European car market enjoys its 31st consecutive month of growth in March, but an increase of 6% is the second lowest relative improvement of the last twelve months, just ahead of last October’s +2,9%. This can be partially attributed to Easter falling in March instead of last year’s April, which means we’ve had fewer selling days. On an even more positive note, the 1,7 million sales volume was close to the March 2007 level. As traditional, and as predicted last month, the UK posts a strong volume in March, helped by the twice yearly change to the new license plates, as the UK takes 30% of total EU sales this month, compared to about 18,5% over the course of a full year. UK sales were up 5,3%, while the French car market grew by 7,5% and Italy is still on fire with an increase of 17,4%. Germany is the outsider of the large markets with sales down by less than a tenth of a percent, one of six countries to lose volume.
If Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles was the big winner in February, it keeps doing well in March even though Renault-Nissan adds even more volume. BMW is among the winners this month as well, adding over 12.000 units on the same month last year. On the other side of the spectrum, Mitsubishi continues to lose volume, and is joined by Ford and Tesla this month. At Ford, slowdown of its core hatchback line-up is not offset by growth of its MPV and crossover models, while Tesla suffers from a general slowdown in Norway, its most important market, and from buyers waiting for the updated version of the Model S. [Read more…]
Car sales in China are back into double digit growth in March after a dip in February due to the Lunar new year celebrations. The total market grows 12% to just under 2 million sales, bringing the year-to-date total to almost 5,5 million sales, an increase of 8,8%. The share of local brands comes down from its record 44% in February to 40,5% in March, slightly above the 40,1% of the same month last year. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that SUVs and crossovers are still the fastest growing segment in China by far, at +46% to almost 690.000 sales. MPVs gain 12% to 207.000 sales, while sedans continue to slump at -3% to 1,07 million sales. No wonder 7 out of 12 new models this year are crossovers.
The most important happening for the European brands is the launch of Renault as a local manufacturer. Although the French brand has taken its time, it shows that it understands the Chinese car market perfectly by starting off with a crossover, the Kadjar. A second SUV will follow soon to replace the imported Koleos. The Kadjar sells over 2.700 units in its first month, which is pretty impressive and not far behind the Peugeot 3008 (down 43% to just under 3.000 sales). Peugeot and Citroën continue to struggle in China as they lack crossovers and their sedan line-up is ageing. Peugeot loses 20% for the third consecutive month as all of its models lose volume and the 308S hatchback struggles to make a mark. Citroën does even worse at -24% as only the C3-XR crossover improves while the new C4 sedan can’t make up for losses of the brand’s other sedans. No bright spots for PSA? Well, DS improves 19% to a still very shy 1.355 sales. [Read more…]
A flood of new models has washed ashore in China last month, with no less than 12 all-new models appearing in the ranking for the first time. 7 SUVs, of which 5 from local brands, 2 MPVs and 3 sedans/hatchbacks. So I’ve decided to split this into a separate post from the regular China car sales analysis March 2016.
The hottest new crossover is the Kia KX5, which is the new generation Sportage in other countries, but Kia renamed it to bring it more in line with the naming strategy of the smaller KX3 crossover. Another reason to change the name is because Kia will likely continue to sell the previous version called Sportage R alongside the new KX5. The version before that is also still sold as the Sportage, but that’s likely to be discontinued soon. At 6.001 sales in its first month, the KX5 is already close to the figure of the Sportage R at 6.225 units, down from 7.382 in the same month last year. Combined sales of the three generations is up from 9.939 in March 2015 to 13.627 last month, supporting Kia’s decision to keep them alive for now.
The most notable newcomer is the Renault Kadjar, marking the start of local production for the French auto maker. Renault is a latecomer to the Chinese party but is determined to succeed, and they’re following the right strategy: launching crossovers. The Kadjar is the first but it will be followed by a slightly larger SUV that will replace the Koleos. The all-new factory with Joint Venture partner Dongfeng has a first-year capacity of 150.000 units, but can easily be expanded to double that figure. Renault already has about 200 showrooms in China from which it sold the Koleos, Fluence and Latitude, imported from South-Korea, and since a few months the Captur, imported from France. The number of dealers will expand in the coming months, but sales of 2.753 units in its first month is not at all bad. For example, the Jeep Cherokee sold 2.171 locally produced units in its first month of local production and is now at over 9.000 monthly sales. I don’t expect the Kadjar to hit such a figure anytime soon, but it has hit the ground running. [Read more…]
Car sales in the US advanced another 3.1% to 1,595,065 units in March, but signs that the market is nearing its peak are becoming stronger. For starters, retail growth slowed down while incentives rose. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate actually dropped to 16.56 million units, the first time since May last year that the figure was below 17 million. The market continued its shift from cars to SUVs, especially in the luxury segment. Still, both Nissan and Hyundai managed to rack up sales records this month. Nissan North America sold 163,559 cars and SUVs last month, as Nissan sales were up 13% to 149,784 and Infiniti sales rose 10% to 13,775. Although Hyundai sales were up just 0.4% on last March to 75,310, the South-Korean brand sold more cars than any month since its arrival in the US in 1986. [Read more…]
After discussing the brand ranking for European car sales in March 2015, we now look at the models ranking. Like the brands, this ranking is also influenced by the traditionally strong selling month in the UK, as this market took three out of every ten cars sold in March, compared to two out of every ten over the course of an entire year. As a result, the models that sell relatively well in the UK benefit from strong March volumes. These include the Ford Fiesta and Focus (UK’s # 1 and #3), Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Astra, Nissan Qashqai, Fiat 500, Mini and Audi A3.
For example, like I already predicted in the February models ranking, the Ford Fiesta has a blockbuster month which helps it move ahead of its main competitors Corsa, Clio and Polo year-to-date after falling behind the trio after the first two months. In fact, the Fiesta has its best selling month in three years, the Corsa its best month in four years, while there are no less than five models in the top-30 that reach their best-ever sales month this march: the Qashqai, A3, 500, Mini and Nissan Juke break their own monthly sales records at over 31.500, over 24.500, over 23.000, almost 17.000 and almost 15.000 sales respectively.
A bit further below, both the Hyundai i10 and the i20 reach their highest volumes in Europe ever, the latter thanks to its new generation, which clearly has been well-received in this important market for the brand. [Read more…]