Having analyzed the Electric Vehicles and the Plug-In Hybrid segments, let’s look at the final Alternative Power segment: regular hybrids. This segment is the most well-established of the three, with sales in the first half of 2017 almost twice as high as sales in the other two segments combined. As a result, the growth in the segment was not as high as for the other two, but 24.9% is nothing to be sneered at, as it was still higher than any non-Alternative Power segment bar the SUV Premium Compact segment.
Having analyzed the Electric Vehicles segment, let’s look at plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs for short. The segment enjoyed a growth rate of 61.6%, the highest of all segments, though its total sales remain below those of pure Electric Vehicles, at just over 40,000 in the first half of the year.
Sales of Alternative Power cars in the United States increased by a substantial 32.2%, a rate of expansion considerably faster than that of the second fastest-growing segment, SUV Premium Compact. Comprising of regular hybrid, PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and EV (electric vehicle) segments, Alternative Power cars ended the first half of 2017 with almost 260,000 cars sold, more than the Subcompact segment, and not far off the Minivan segment. For accounting purposes, keep in mind that we classify many of the Alternative Power cars in other segments too e.g. Toyota Prius liftback figures in the Compact segment, while Ford Fusion PHEV figures in the Mid-sized segment. At least part of the reason for this growth is that EVs and PHEVs continue to benefit from Federal and State rebates, which lower their price even before consumers consider the lower cost at the pumps/mains.
First, let us look at the EVs segment, which grew by 41.2% in the first half of 2017, to a total of 45,150 cars.
Ford Mustang keeps losing sales as Chevy Camaro rebounds
Sales in the Mid-sized Sports segment fell by 14.5% so far in 2017, a reflection mainly on the dwindling popularity of the mighty Ford Mustang. However, while the headline figure is bad but not horrible, what should be more worrying is the fact that the segment has plenty of new cars such as Chevrolet Camaro, Audi TT, or the Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman twins, after an early rise their sales have all declined recently. What’s more, Dodge seems to be doing wonders with the Challenger, given how old that model is, but even that can’t last forever.
Mazda MX-5 almost takes the segment lead, as RWD cars soar and FWD cars crashThe Small Sports segment lost an astonishing 31.6% sales in the second quarter of 2017, a bad performance second only to that of the Minicar segment that lost almost half its sales over the same period. Combined with the slower decline experienced by the segment in the first quarter of the year, sales in the segment were 22.8% smaller in the first half of 2017 than in 2016. Although there is some hope in the form of the new Hyundai Veloster, that car won’t arrive until sometime in 2018 – until then, it’s likely sales will continue declining.
Every single model loses sales, as the segment shrinks by almost 20%
Overall sales of Commercial Vans in the US fell again in the second quarter of 2017, albeit at a slower pace than in the first quarter, resulting in a cumulative drop in sales of 3.2% YTD. As I mentioned earlier, it seems that customers seem to be slowly moving away from commercial vans to pickups, at least to the extent that the latter are used for commercial purposes. Confirming this, the decline is concentrated in the small commercial van segment, which has lost 17.9% of its volume so far this year, while the large commercial vans segment, for which pickups are no substitute, seems largely unaffected.
Once segment golden boy Ford Transit suffers double-digit sales decline while segment grows slowlyOverall sales of Commercial Vans in the US fell again in the second quarter of 2017, albeit at a slower pace than in the first quarter, resulting in a cumulative drop in sales of 3.2% YTD. However, this is mainly due to sales decline in the small commercial vans sector – sales in the large commercial vans sector have been growing so far in 2017, albeit at a leisurely 0.5% pace overall.
After finishing 2016 as the fastest growing segment, with a growth rate of 25.5%, things have slowed down considerably, resulting in a growth rate of only 2.4% over the first half of 2017. Moreover, rather than being evenly spread among all models, the remaining growth in the segment is being driven by one model only: the all-new Honda Ridgeline. With the replacement for the Nissan Frontier, the eagerly-awaited Jeep Wrangler pickup and the return of the Ford Ranger still a while away, it is unlikely the segment will see a huge upturn anytime soon.
Sales in the Mid-sized SUV segment increased by 9.5% in the first half of 2017, an improvement on the 4.4% gain the segment experienced in 2016. What’s more, the absolute volume of 952,645 put the segment once again within spitting distance of the mid-sized car segment, underlying how the market has shifted in favor of crossovers in the past two decades. That said, 2017 does not seem like the year that mid-sized crossovers overtake the mainstream cars, for while there is plenty of new metal coming to the market (Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and VW Atlas), none of these models are likely to trouble the segment leaders or add that greatly to the segment total. [Read more…]
Sales in the Compact SUV segment grew at a leisurely 1.4% pace in the second quarter of 2017, a step down from the rate of growth the segment enjoyed in the first quarter (7.8%). Taken together, the segment grew at an average 4.4% in the first half of the year, a much better performance than the market as a whole (sales fell 2.3% overall), but still a slower rate of growth than the other three non-premium SUV segments, all of which grew at around 10%. Still, the segment is assured in its utter dominance of the market, and its sales of over 1.5 million in the first half of the year are 36% higher than in the next-largest segments: compact car and large pickup. What’s more, with a raft of new models either already on the market (Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-5, Jeep Compass, Kia Niro) or hitting the market in the next few months (GMC Terrain, Subaru XV Crosstrek, VW Tiguan) it would take a brave person to bet against the segment continuing to thrive in 2017.