After a 6% growth rate in the first half of 2017, Europe’s largest segment by volume declines 2% in the third quarter. That brings the year-to-date figure to 2,17 million, up 4% on the same period of 2016. Major culprit of this slowdown in Q3 is the former segment leader Ford Fiesta which suffers a 44% decline in Q3 as it is changing over to the new generation. That has dropped the Fiesta to 9th place in Q3 although it holds on to its third place year-to-date, helped by a 17% decline in Opel/Vauxhall Corsa deliveries as a new generation of that car is long overdue as the Corsa is still based on a platform launched in 2006. The Renault Clio continues to sell strong and is the only model in the top-5 to grow in the third quarter, doing so by 11%. That allows it to stay ahead of the Volkswagen Polo which was running on its last legs as it too has a new generation arriving in Q4. The Peugeot 208 holds on to its 5th place while its sister model Citroën C3 stroms up the charts from #9 last year to #6 thanks to the successful launch of the new generation. However, the C3 was outsold by both the Dacia Sandero and Toyota Yaris in the third quarter. The Sandero keeps going from strength to strength even without any major updates, while the Yaris has recently been facelifted.
The subcompact car segment in Europe grew by 6% in the second quarter of 2017 and a similar rate in the first half. It remains the largest segment in Europe by a large margin, with an 18,6% share of the total market, at almost 1,56 million sales in the half. The segment is very dynamic thanks to a number of new and updated models, with plenty more to come later this year. But some of the existing models also show continued strength. At the top of the ranking, the top-3 is back to how it was for the full year 2016 with the recently facelifted Renault Clio in the lead ahead of the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. The latter two are about to be replaced by completely new generations and should give the Clio a run for its money if it wants to top the segment for a second consecutive year. The new Fiesta is already in showrooms at the moment this article is published and the Polo won’t be long behind. Big loser in the top-10 is the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa with a loss of 16% in Q2 as its 2014 facelift cannot hide that it’s basically already an 11-year-old design. Unfortunately for the model, its replacement isn’t due until 2019. That replacement will be developed on the PSA platform which also underpins the new Citroën C3.
We’ve discussed a handful of new model introduction of this summer in part 1, and will continue with a few other newly launched cars that we think will either hit, miss or just don’t stir our senses at all. This is a series all about opinions on a site totally dedicated to facts, just to balance it off a bit. Here we’ll give our views on new cars and invite you to give yours, be it in the poll at the bottom or in the comment section below. Fortunately, every opinion is personal so even Kriss and I don’t always agree and we hope you don’t either.
BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo
I get it, the 5-Series GT, which was actually based on the platform of the 7-Series, has been more of a commercial success than it was an aesthetic success. And by renaming it 6-Series they can make the new generation more expensive, because it has a higher number. Cynicism aside, this car should’ve been called the 6-Series GT since the first generation. And I get why that appealed to the people who’ve bought one: it was more spacious and almost as luxurious and comfortable as a 7-Series for less money, all while being less ostentatious than said 7-Series. And there are plenty of shoppers in this price range who couldn’t care less about the looks of their car, as long as it did best what it’s been bought for. With the new generation they’ve actually succeeded in designing a somewhat graceful car, thanks to stretching it by almost 9cm (3 inches) and lowering it by 2cm (almost an inch), which makes it a lot less bulky than the 5-Series GT. I’m actually starting to warm to this car the more I look at it. And it’s also a great alternative for those who’d love to drive a comfortable BMW and can do without the sportiness that BMW has to put into the 5-Series sedan (and wagon) in order to keep its reputation of maker of sports sedans.
I have mixed feelings about this car. From a rational, sales-oriented perspective, BMW did exactly what it had to do to build on the moderate success of the first generation – it based it on the tour-the-tech new 5-series, made it better-looking (less ugly?), and gave it a posher name. But it remains, at its core, a fundamentally contrived and ungainly car, sort of a 5-series for people who will benefit from the extra space and the easier entry/exit that the higher driving position affords (so, basically, plus-sized and older people). And while the 6-series GT is less environmentally-unfriendly than SUVs, it makes for a much less attractive look on the roads.
Sales of subcompact cars in Europe grew by 10% in the first quarter of 2017, faster than the overall market growth of 7,8%, and it remains the largest segment in Europe by a large margin, at more than 793.000 sales. This growth is fueled by a number of renewed or facelifted models, but also by continued strength of older models. At the top of the ranking, we have once again a change of guard as the Ford Fiesta reclaims its top position after being outsold by the Renault Clio in the full year 2017. The Fiesta is traditionally strong in Q1 thanks to its popularity in the UK and it therefore benefits from large volumes in March. In fact, this March the Fiesta was even the best selling nameplate overall, even ahead of the VW Golf, even despite being due for replacement this year. The Clio is still the fastest growing model in the top-5 and overtakes the Volkswagen Polo when compared to Q1 of 2016.
After discussing the Alpine A110, DS7 Crossback, Ford Fiesta, Kia Picanto, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and Opel/Vauxhall Crossland X in part 1, we’ll continue with the second bunch of Geneva launches. Let us know what you think and vote for your favorites below!
See, they do now how to design a great looking car at Opel/Vauxhall, as the new Insignia proves. Wow, this thing looks more capable then ever to steal each and every one of those 12 private sales annually from the Passat. The rest of the sales in this segment are corporate orders from leasing companies, some of which limit their client’s choices, which means even if the Insignia is the better (and better looking) car, not everyone who wants one will be able to get it. Too bad, because its low and wide proportions and almost coupe-like roofline of the hatchback absolutely make this one of the best looking cars in the segment, right up there with or maybe even ahead of the Renault Talisman and miles ahead of the dull Passat and already long-in-the-tooth Mondeo. Who could’ve said that of an Opel just a few years ago? The Americans are drooling over this thing to make it Stateside again as the Buick Regal (including the Wagon) and that’s actually pretty impressive for a brand that’s been known as a maker of uninspired middle-of-the-road cars for decades. [Read more…]
The subcompact car segment grew by 3% in 2016, about half the overall market growth of 6,2%, but it remains the largest segment in Europe by a large margin. At the top of the ranking, we have a change of guard. For only the second time since 2009 the Ford Fiesta is not Europe’s best selling subcompact car and for the first time in a decade the Renault Clio is the segment leader. We’ve had three different leaders in three quarters, with the Fiesta in the lead after the first quarter, but the Clio took over in Q3, while the Volkswagen Polo became the segment best seller in Q3. By year end, the Clio ended up on top with sales up 3% to just 3.500 ahead of the Polo, while the Fiesta lost 5% of its volume to drop below 300.000 annual sales for only the second time since 2002. The Clio has just been slightly facelifted and the Polo will be updated soon, but there will be an all-new generation of the Fiesta later this year, which should help the nameplate recover some of the lost ground.
Sales of subcompact cars in Europe are up just 2% in the first nine months of 2016, and they were flat in Q3. Europe’s biggest segment is in a low point of its product cycle, with a lot of new and updated models due in the coming months, including new generations for the two best sellers and a facelift of the #3. Still, only two models out of the top-12 are down year-on-year, with the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa less than one tenth of a percent. In each of the three quarters we’ve had a different leader this year: we started with the Ford Fiesta on top, then after six months the Renault Clio had taken over, and now in the third quarter the Volkswagen Polo has taken charge, even though the Fiesta outsold it in Q3 despite both being in the final stage of their life cycle. The Peugeot 208 is the big winner in the top-5 and the Dacia Sandero takes those honors for the top-10, even though it was passed by the Skoda Fabia this quarter.
Sales of subcompact cars in Europe are up just 4% in the first half of 2016, compared to 8,8% for the overall market, as the best sellers are starting to age. Still, it remains the biggest segment of the continent in terms of volume. There’s been a change of leadership in Q2, with the Renault Clio grabbing the lead from the Ford Fiesta, which is due to be replaced later this year. The Fiesta has been around since 2008, and so has the Volkswagen Polo. The Opel/Vauxhall Corsa is even older, having been developed in 2006, but at least it had an extensive update in 2014. That leaves the Clio and the Peugeot 208 as the freshest models in the top-5, both being introduced in 2012. And it shows: the Clio is the best selling model in Q2 and the first half, while the 208 is the fastest growing model in the top-5. The Fiesta has been the segment leader since 2012 but is now relegated to third place by the Polo. It has even come under threat from the Corsa, which outsold it in May and was just 2.000 units behind for the quarter. Outside the top-5, the Toyota Yaris keeps improving slowly but steadily, although the Dacia Sandero and Skoda Fabia weren’t far behind in Q2. In fact, the Sandero grabbed 7th place from the Fabia, despite the latter being brand new in 2015.
The highest volume segment in Europe grows by just 3% in Q1 of 2016, compared to 8% for the overall market. The Ford Fiesta, segment leader for the past 7 years is now under serious attack with sales down 4%, while the Volkswagen Polo adds 4% and is less than 3.000 sales behind after leapfrogging the Renault Clio and the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa. The facelifted Peugeot 208 is closing in on the top-4 as well with sales up 13%, but the big winner of the top-15 is the new generation Skoda Fabia, adding a third to its volume of last year, and passing the Dacia Sandero and Seat Ibiza for 7th place, despite continuous growth for the French-Romanian model. The Citroën C3 also gains market share and a position against the Ibiza.[Read more…]
We recently wrote about how some Chinese car makers still can’t resist the temptation to simply copy existing car designs, a practice that may work in the short term, but won’t do their brand perception any favors in the long run. To build a brand beyond a certain threshold, and especially if you’re looking to export, you’ll need to develop a style of your own. And although foreign car makers are required to work with a local partner if they want to produce cars in China, they’ll be less likely to co-operate with a partner known for stealing intellectual property rights. Therefore, not all copying is done illegally. Some Chinese auto makers have bought the design license and sometimes even the entire production line from obsolete foreign models after those ended their original life cycle and production abroad. This practice has happened a lot in the past and continues today, not always with entire designs, but also with platforms, the most expensive part in the development of a car. I’ll try to make an as comprehensive list as possible, if you have any more input from platforms I may have forgotten, please let me know!
One of the most interesting stories involves Chery, now a 500.000 annual volume car maker, and Spanish brand Seat. Chery was founded in the mid-1990s by the government of Wuhu in the Chinese province of Anhui. At the time, the central Chinese government restricted the issue of licenses to produce cars to new players, but they would allow the production of engines. But the Wuhu government was determined and had acquired the production line of an outdated Ford engine and moved that from the UK to their province. However, they didn’t have any customers to purchase and use those engines, so they decided to contact Yin Tongyao, a former engineer at the FAW-Volkswagen Joint Venture who had worked on the FAW-Volkswagen Jetta. Tongyao struck a secret deal with Seat, whose first generation Toledo (Seat’s first model developed under VW ownership, built on the VW A2 platform of that same Jetta, the European Jetta II) was near the end of its life cycle. [Read more…]