The compact car segment in Europe is in faster decline than the overall market in the first quarter of 2019, with a loss of 14% to 528.363 sales, as Europe’s second largest segment now accounts for 13% of the total market, down from 14,3% in Q1 of 2018. That means it is under threat from the small crossover segment (up 11% to 14% share of the market). This is also one of the main reasons for the decline of the compact car segment: customers deflecting to crossovers. Segment best seller Volkswagen Golf is due for a redesign this year and loses 16% of its volume but still holds a commanding lead over its competition. In second place we now find the Ford Focus with sales up 8% thanks to its new generation, outselling the Skoda Octavia by a significant margin and thus ending a two-year period with the VW Group in the top two spots. The last time another manufacturer held a top-2 position in this segment was 2016 when the Opel/Vauxhall Astra was the Golf’s nearest rival, but so far this year the Astra is down into 5th place with sales down 18%. The Peugeot 308 moves up a spot to #4 despite also losing volume, but improves its share of the segment by 0,7 percentage points. The Seat Leon and Renault Megane also do slightly better than the overall segment but are still down by double digits, while the Kia Ceed is up an impressive 35%, helped by the addition of the Sportswagon and ProCeed versions. This moves the Ceed into 8th place, its highest ever ranking in the compact car segment in Europe.
The midsized car segment in Europe accelerates its decline in 2019 with a 25% decrease in deliveries in the first quarter, to less than 100.000 cars. This is now just 2,4% of the European car market as just two out of the 12 available nameplates improve their sales in the first quarter. The segment which sold nearly 1 million units as recently as 10 years ago is now down even further on whar already was its lowest volume ever. Interestingly, the luxury midsized car segment is down by just 3% so far this year and is 60% larger than these mainstream models. Even more telling for the state of this segment is that the recently launched all-electric Tesla Model 3 delivered more units in March than any nameplate in this segment in Europe. To be fair, of course this reflects deliveries of vehicles ordered over the course of the last few years and therefore can not be directly compared until Tesla has fulfilled all pre-orders and starts normal deliveries. The traditional segment leader Volkswagen Passat falls faster than the overall segment and is down to below 30% share, which is still a dominant position. Its sibling Skoda Superb is the only model in the top-4 to improve its share of the segment with sales down “just” 14% while the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo both lose a quarter of their sales, right on par with the segment as a whole. Big winner is the all-new Peugeot 508 with its well-received design. The 508 came close to outselling the Mondeo in February and should become a podium contender when it reaches full availability of all versions.
After a stable 2018, sales of subcompact cars in Europe declined by 8% in Q1 of 2019, to 749.634 deliveries. Europe’s largest segment by volume now accounts for 18,4% of the total market. The Renault Clio holds on to its top spot despite being replaced by a new generation this year while its closest two rivals have already been updated recently. The French hatchback (and station wagon) delivers 2% fewer vehicles this year, which enables it to keep a significant distance to the #2 Volkswagen Polo while clearly distancing the former segment leader Ford Fiesta, which is down 24% as the new generation celebrates its first birthday. The Fiesta is now nearly outsold by the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa which is also due for a redesign this year but manages a 12% improvement, probably thanks to discounts and rental company sales. The car on which the next generation Corsa will be based, the Peugeot 208, is down 11% as it too will be replaced this year. There are less than 5.000 sales separating the #3 and the #7 in this segment, and as you see there will be quite a few model changes this year, so it promises to be a volatile ranking in 2019. The Toyota Yaris has improved every year for the past five years and shows no sign of ending that streak in 2019 with a 3% gain in the first quarter, which means it actually gains 0,8 percentage points of share of the segment. The Citroën C3 also continues to improve with a 2% gain on the first quarter of last year.
The minicar segment in Europe continues its decline in the first quarter of 2019, although it has lost less than the overall market. In the first three months of 2019, European car buyers took delivery of 331.285 minicars, a 3% loss on 2018. The share of the total European car market is slightly up from 8,0% to 8,1% as the overall market showed an even stronger decline. Fiat’s dominance in this segment shrinks to a share of 29,7% with its two models, compared to 30% in Q1 of 2018 but up on the 28,7% for the full year 2018. Surprisingly, the aging Panda gained 12% of sales this year and reclaims the top spot from its equally old sibling 500 which is the biggest loser in the segment top-15. This is a worrying trend for the already struggling Italian brand as the 500 has been the cork that kept Fiat afloat for the past decade and more. We find a surprise in third place as the Toyota Aygo knocks the Volkswagen Up! off the podium for the first time since the launch of the latter in 2012. The Aygo sees stable sales this year with a 1% gain while the Up! is down 11% into fourth place. The Renault Twingo loses a similar percentage and holds on to 5th place by the skin of its teeth as the Kia Picanto is up 10% and just 42 sales behind. The Twingo has just received a minor facelift and should be able to distance the Picanto later this year again. The Hyundai i10 also loses by double digits as a next generation is just around the corner. [Read more…]
After a 7% decline in January and a 2,6% decline in February, European new car sales were down by 3,7% in March 2019, to 1,76 million sales. For the first quarter of the year, sales are down 4,4% to 4,07 million units. Most of the decline can still be attributed to the after effects of the introduction of new fuel efficiency and emissions testing standard called WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Test Procedure) in September. March sales figures are traditionally heavily influenced by the UK market, for which this is the highest volume month of the year by far. Fortunately, despite all the uncertainties facing this market, its decline was not as bad as generally expected. However, all major European markets were in the red in March, as Italy posted the highest percentage drop (-9,6%), followed by Spain (-4,3%), the United Kingdom (-3,4%), France (-2,3%) and Germany (-0,5%). Just nine out of the 30 countries of the EU and EFTA showed growth in March, with the fastest growing markets Lithuania (+43,8%), Denmark (+33,2%), Norway (+27,6%), and Romania (+20,8%). In the first quarter registrations remained almost flat in Germany (+0,2%), while the other key markets performed worse than in the first quarter of 2018, most notably Spain (-6,9%) and Italy (-6,5%).
After six months of double digit declines, the Chinese passenger car market slows its downfall with a 9,6% loss of sales in March 2019. That marks the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year losses, but nonetheless a modest bright spot for the world’s largest car market. In March, a total of 1,93 million domestically produced passenger cars were sold in China, which brings the Q1 total to 5,15 million sales, down 14,4% on Q1 of 2018. These figures exclude commercial vehicles, minivans and imported cars. In the short term, the Beijing government is not planning any incentives to prop up the market, and in fact is sharply reducing subsidies on one of the fastest growing segments of the Chinese car market: that of EVs and plug-in hybrids. Rather, the government seems to see this market contraction as an excellent opportunity to consolidate the market as (too) small players will be forced to close down or be taken over, while the larger state-owned carmakers also feel extra pressure to merge their operations and cut loss-making domestic brands.
After looking at the February 2019 brands ranking for Europe, lets zoom in on the models ranking. Eternal best seller Volkswagen Golf is one of the biggest losers in the top-10, just behind the Ford Fiesta as both lose by double digits. The Renault Clio is back into its #2 spot although the Volkswagen Polo is growing faster. Still, the Clio’s continued progress is impressive considering the new generation was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show early March and will be in showrooms later this year. The Citroen C3 takes a record fourth place, outselling its sibling Peugeot 208 for only the third time since the launch of the latter in early 2012. The only other two times the C3 was ahead were in August and December 2018, but it was never as high at 4th. The only crossovers in the top-10 are both from VW, with the Volkswagen Tiguan in 5th place and the Volkswagen T-Roc in 8th place. [Read more…]
After a 7% decline in January, European new car sales were down by 2,75% in February 2019, to 1,12 million sales. For the first two months of the year, sales are down 5% to 2,31 million units. Most of the decline can still be attributed to the after effects of the introduction of new fuel efficiency and emissions testing standard called WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Test Procedure) in September. Among the major markets, demand for new cars increased modestly in Germany (+2,7%), France (+2,1%) and the United Kingdom (+1,4%) last month. However, in Spain (-8,8%) and Italy (-2,4%) car registrations continued to decrease for the sixth consecutive month. Among the smaller European markets, Lithuania was the most dynamic with sales almost doubling (+94,5%), followed by Romania (+37,5%), Hungary (+12,6%), Greece (+10,6%) and Luxembourg (+10,4%). Fastest declining markets were Iceland (-30,9% to just 801 registrations), Cyprus (-17,7% to 891 registrations), Sweden (-14,9%) and Netherlands (-14,5%), with Finland (-11,3%) and Austria (-10,8%) also down by double digits.
Year-to-date, some markets saw a strong drop compared to last year, most notably Spain (-8,4%) and Italy (-4,9%), but new passenger car registrations remained more or less stable in Germany (+0,6%), France (+0,5%) and the United Kingdom (-0,6%).
The market for domestic passenger car sales in China continues its decline in 2019 with 8 consecutive months of declines from July 2018 to February 2019. With two months of double digit declines in January (-16,7%) and February (-17,6%), the market doesn’t seem able to recover soon. However, there’s a silver lining to this apparent malaise, as these numbers reflect wholesale data. Retail sales of new light vehicles dipped just 4% in January, which means the big drop in wholesale deliveries was a result of a reduction in dumping excess inventories by carmakers on their dealerships. [Read more…]
EV and PHEV sales in Europe have set another record in 2018 with a 22% increase to nearly 345.000 sales of plug-in vehicles, of which close to 190.000 full electric cars and almost 155.000 plug-in hybrid cars. Sales of the former surged 44% while PHEV sales were virtually stable at +3,3%. 2018 therefore marks the first year that battery electric cars outsold PHEVs. Plug-in vehicles accounted for 2,2% of the European car market, up from 1,8% in 2017 and 1,4% in 2016. The rate of growth for EVs in Europe still lags that of worldwide EV sales, which grew by 73% in 2018.