Sales of large MPVs in Europe were down in each quarter of 2017 after a strong rebound in 2016. A loss of 15% means that sales are down to just over 131.000 units, or 0,8% of the total market, down from 1% in 2016. At least this is still a higher segment volume than 2014 and 2015, but the future of the segment looks bleak as fewer brands see profitability at these volumes and 7-seat crossovers continue to cannibalize their MPV rivals, even though the latter are still way more space efficient and practical. Four out of six remaining players in this segment show double digit losses and only one improves its volume (by a mere 45 units). The Ford S-Max holds on to the segment lead and even manages to increase its share of the segment to 26,9% as it is down by 14%. Its sibling Ford Galaxy is down by 25%, which means Ford’s share of the segment is down from 39,7% to 38,5%. The Volkswagen Group twins are by far the oldest models still on sale in this segment but manage to improve to 46,1% share, up 4,5 percentage point on last year. The Seat Alhambra is stable on 2016 thanks to a last-minute surge: it gained 19% in the fourth quarter.
After a strong rebound last year, sales of large MPVs are down for three consecutive quarters, including a 19% drop in sales in Q3 with all players down by double digits except for one. Just over 100.000 units were sold in the first nine months of 2017, a decline of 17% on the same period in 2016. The Ford S-Max holds on to the segment lead despite a 25% decline in Q3, a similar decline as its sister model Ford Galaxy, which was in fourth place for the quarter but remains in 5th place year-to-date. The share of the segment for the two Fords drops from 40,2% to 39%, while the VW Group twins improve their share from 40,8% to 45,2%. Keep in mind that the Volkswagen Sharan and Seat Alhambra are by far the oldest models still on sale in the segment, having been introduced in 2010, compared to late 2015/early 2016 for the S-Max and Galaxy. The Alhambra loses 14% in Q3 and is down to third place behind its sister model Sharan which is the only nameplate to improve this quarter at +1%. Year-to-date, the Seat is still ahead of the VW but they’re close enough to make it a battle for 2nd place by the end of the year.
After a strong rebound in 2016, the large MPV segment continues its demise. A 23% loss in Q2 means sales are only slightly higher than the Q2-2015 level and on par with Q2-2014 again. All nameplates lose volume in Q2, five out of seven with double digits, and only one manages to improve in the first half. In that depressed context, the Ford S-Max holds on to its lead of the segment, but a 17% loss in Q2 means it outsold its nearest rival by only 1.000 units. That was the Seat Alhambra, which reclaims the #2 spot year-to-date from its clone Volkswagen Sharan. Combined, the VW Group twins hold a 43,5% share of the segment in the first half (45,1% in Q2), up from 39,9% in the same period last year. That’s higher than the combined share of the S-Max and its platform sibling Ford Galaxy, which together hold 38,9% of the segment, down from 39,3% last year. This is despite the fact that the Sharan and Alhambra are by far the oldest models still on sale in the segment, having been introduced in 2010, compared to late 2015/early 2016 for the S-Max and Galaxy.
After a strong rebound in 2016, the large MPV segment is back down again by 7% to just under 36.000 sales in the first quarter of 2017. Interestingly, it’s the oldest models in the segment that improve, while the relatively fresh models lose volume. Still, nobody can touch the Ford S-Max, the least practical car of the segment in terms of interior room. The S-Max is the only nameplate to sell over 10.000 units this quarter, even though it loses 2% of its volume. Its closest rivals are the VW Group twins Volkswagen Sharan and Seat Alhambra, both up by 6% and increasing their share of the segment to 41,9% (from 36,9% in Q1-2016). That’s now more than Ford’s combined share of the S-Max and Galaxy, which is down to 41,3% as the latter lost 17% of its volume when compared to the same period last year.
At just over 150.000 annual sales, the large MPV segment is the second smallest mainstream segment in Europe, but it’s also the fastest growing segment in 2016 at +32%, although that requires a sidenote that the segment was actually down by 4% in Q4. Only one of the remaining models loses volume for the year and that’s the former segment leader Volkswagen Sharan, which is clearly outsold by the Ford S-Max. The S-Max is the first large MPV to top 40.000 annual sales since 2011 when its previous generation hit that volume, as well as the Sharan which was brand new at that time. Close behind the Sharan in third place we find its Spanish clone Seat Alhambra with sales up 17% despite being the oldest of the remaining models by a large margin (together with the Sharan, of course).
A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold disappointingly in 2016. We’ve already looked at which cars or brands have surprised in 2016 from a sales volume point of view in a separate article, as well as successes and disappointments in the US.
1. Jaguar XE
When Jaguar launched the XE in 2015, expectations were high, as this was Jaguar’s second attempt at the premium midsized segment, and arguably a much better attempt than the first try: the X-Type. A lot has been critisized about the X-Type: it was too much Ford Mondeo, had too conservative styling and it was an utter failure. About that last point: they sold over 400.000 of them worldwide, half of which in Europe, over a 9-year life cycle. The model sold almost 31.000 units in its first full year of sales 2002 and peaked at 38.500 sales in 2004 in a segment 5th place behind the German Big-3 and Volvo. Now keep in mind the segment was a bit larger at the time, so let’s translate it to 3,1% of the segment in its first full year and 4,5% of the segment in its peak. 2016 was the first full year of sales for the XE and it took a segment share of 3,5%, slightly better than its supposedly failed predecessor 14 years earlier. It also took just 7th place of the segment, but that’s because Audi and BMW have separated their coupe and convertible models from the sedan and wagon versions. Jaguar is still best of the rest behind the Germans and Volvo. One could argue the F-Pace crossover may be cannibalizing, but there’s hardly any overlap in price between those two models, and a counterargument could be that the F-Pace is raking in extra attention to the brand and drawing people into its showrooms who may not have known about the XE otherwise. In its defense: there’s no station wagon version of the XE available (yet). So at first glance not a huge success, but nor is the XE’s first full year a clear-cut disappointment, then why is it on this list? Well, for one because it lost year-over-year volume in every month of the second half of the year, which is not a promising sign for a model in only its first full year of sales, and secondly because it was outsold by the Alfa Romeo Giulia in November and likely in December too, again not a great sign of what’s to come for the XE.
The large MPV segment in Europe continues to rebound from its year-long slump after the fresh product drought has ended. In the first three quarters of 2016, sales are up 47% compared to the same period in 2015, as five out of six remaining models gain double or triple digit volume. Ford is the king of the segment with a share of more than 40% for its two models, both redesigned in the past year. Of these two models, the sporty S-Max sells just about twice as much as its functional sibling Galaxy, and the former is on top of the leaderboard, followed by the two entries of Volkswagen Group, which remain popular despite now being the oldest remaining models in the class. Combined sales of the Volkswagen Sharan and its clone Seat Alhambra are up by 4,1% but there’s a big internal shift, with the former down 11% and the latter up 26%, which means the gap between the two almost identical models has shrunk from more than 8.000 in 2015 to less than 170 so far this year.
Sales of large MPVs are booming thanks to an infusion of fresh products into the segment. In the first half of 2016, sales are up 59% compared to the same period in 2015, as not only the three newcomers gain impressive volume, but also 2 out of the 3 existing models. Ford is the king of the segment with a share of 39,3% for its two models, both redesigned in the past year. The Ford S-Max is the segment leader with triple the sales of its previous generation, but the already six-year old Volkswagen Sharan was just 1.000 units behind the S-Max in Q2 and jumped from #4 in Q1 to #2 for the first half, leapfrogging the all-new Renault Espace. This must be a disappointment for Renault, as the brand is on a good roll in Europe with its latest models and the new design language, and it surely must have hoped the fifth generation Espace could take back the lead in the segment it created 35 years ago in Europe. In Q2 it was even outsold by the Seat Alhambra, the Sharan’s clone.
After years of steady declines, the large MPV segment in Europe is finally revitalized in the first quarter of 2016 thanks to an injection of fresh products. The Ford S-Max returns to former glory of leading the segment from 2007 to 2011, as it takes firm control again in 2016. The S-Max was the best selling model in the segment for each of the past 3 months, ahead of the Renault Espace, coming out of the very deep hole of its aging predecessor to be the fastest growing model in the segment with sales up almost tenfold. With both the S-Max and the Espace sacrificing interior space for design, it leaves you wondering what the added value of this segment is. There are now plenty of 7-seater alternatives in the midsized MPV segment, which are easier to park and more fuel efficient. I guess these boutique MPVs are doing exactly what Ford and Renault had hoped they would do: since they can’t beat the German premium brands with sedans, the MPVs offer the mainstream brands an out-of-the-box competitor which attracts those looking for something different than the crowd. That also explains why most Espace buyers opt for the top-of-the-line Initiale Paris version and why Ford is launching the Vignale luxury line on the S-Max and Galaxy.[Read more…]
The European large MPV segment is down 6% to 116.891 sales in 2015, a new all-time low after a slight rebound in 2014. But we have reached the bottom as sales were up 14% in the fourth quarter of the year thanks to the new generation Renault Espace, up threefold for the year. In 2016, Ford will re-enter the competition with the new generations of the S-Max and Galaxy to help the segment back into growth mode again. The Volkswagen Sharan has held on to the top spot, but was outsold by the Espace in Q4 and even by the new Ford S-Max in December. These last two will have an exciting battle this year for the top spot. The Sharan’s clone Seat Alhambra climbed to the second place in 2015 with sales up 19% but it won’t last there as it was down into fourth place in December.