The past few years have seen a re-emergence of a long-dormant trend – for mainstream brands to launch dedicated sub-brands. The most recent example of this trend is Seat’s new Cupra sub-brand, which is heading to Geneva with the Cupra Ateca, a Seat Ateca with the Volkswagen Golf R’s 4wd drivetrain, and the Cupra Ibiza Concept, [Read more…]
Sales of compact cars in Europe declined 2% in 2017 to nearly 2,34 million units after 4% declines in each of the last three quarters. Europe’s second largest segment accounts for 15,1% of the total market, down from 15,8% in 2016. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf is completely on par with the rest of the segment and holds on to its 20,6% share thanks to a facelift in Q2. Its stablemate Skoda Octavia is stable for the year, gaining less than 500 sales but that still means a new volume record for the nameplate, knocking down the Opel/Vauxhall Astra which was down 35% in Q3 after a 28% decline in Q3. Like the Corsa in the subcompact segment, the Astra suffers from Opel/Vauxhall’s new owner deciding not to chase volume at all cost as General Motors used to do. This means lower discounts and reduces deliveries to daily rental fleets, leading to a sales shock in the short term but should be beneficial for the brand in the long run. Fourth placed Ford Focus is also stable despite being in the final year of the current generation and despite the overall decline of the UK market, its most important market with a third of its European volume. In the battle of the French, the Renault Megane jumps ahead of the Peugeot 308 to take 5th place, but I´m sure Renault expected more from this new model. [Read more…]
The compact car segment in Europe showed a 4% decline in sales in the third quarter of 2017 as it did in the second quarter as well, which means the year-to-date figure is down 1% the same period last year. Just over 1,8 million compact cars were sold in the first nine months of 2017. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf is back into positive territory with a gain of 6% in Q3 but is still down by 6% year-to-date. It still sells more double the figure of the #2 player in the segment as the Opel/Vauxhall Astra was lost a horrid 28% in Q3 and was down to fourth place this quarter. If it proves unable to turn its fate around, the VW Group looks set to grab the top-2 spots for the first time ever with the Skoda Octavia moving up to second place. The aging Ford Focus lost 3% in Q3 but will be replaced in 2018 so in fact its 1% decline so far this year is actually pretty impressive considering most of its rivals are much fresher. [Read more…]
The compact car segment in Europe showed a 4% in sales in the second quarter of 2017, which means the first half figure is stable on that of the same period last year. At 15,2% of the total market with over 1,27 million sales, the compact segment is the second-largest segment in Europe after the subcompact segment. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf loses 2,5 percentage points of share but still sells more than the #3 and #4 of the segment combined and the gap to the #2 is still more than 100.000 sales. One of the reasons for its 12% loss is the recent facelift which hurt availability, but it also suffers from in-house competitions from crossovers like the new generation Tiguan, Seat Ateca and perhaps even the Skoda Kodiaq. Coincidentally with its shift from GM to PSA, the Opel/Vauxhall Astra starts to slip with a 7% decline in Q2, although it’s still in the black for the first half. The battle for 3rd place remains close, but the recently facelifted Skoda Octavia outsold the aging Ford Focus by 5.800 sales in Q2 to edge out a narrow lead to reclaim 3rd place. The new generation Focus won’t arrive until next year, so the Octavia is expected to finish the year on the podium for the second year in a row. [Read more…]
Sales of compact carsin Europe increased 4% in the first quarter of 2017, half the growth of the overall market at +7,8%. Total volume of the segment was just over 636.000 sales, which means it remains the second-largest segment in Europe. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf is in trouble with a loss of 11% as it has just been facelifted but also feels some in-house competition from the new generation Tiguan, and possibly even from the Seat Ateca crossover. The new generation Opel/Vauxhall Astra continues to outperform the segment, but is still way too far behind to even remotely threaten the Golf’s domination. Like the Fiesta one segment down, the Ford Focus traditionally has a good start of the year thanks to its popularity in the UK, but its 7% gain is nonetheless impressive considering it is one of the oldest models in the top-6.
The compact car segment in Europe has grown by 3% in 2016, half the growth of the overall market at +6,2% and equal to the subcompact car segment, which remains Europe’s largest segment ahead of this one. Expectedly, the dominant leader of the segment Volkswagen Golf drops back below half a million sales after two years, due to increasing pressure of fresh rivals. The main culprit to the Golf’s demise is the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, movin up from fifth place to #2 for the first time since 2011 thanks to a 30% sales increase on last year, topping a quarter million sales also for the first time since 2011. The bang-for-your-bucks Skoda Octavia holds on to its third place with sales up 5%, helped by the 9% loss for the Ford Focus, dropping from 2nd place to #4. The Peugeot 308 loses a similar share of 9% and drops a place to #5 after topping 200.000 sales for only one year.
At +4% in the first three quarters of 2016, sales of compact cars in Europe grew faster than the minicar and subcompact segments, but slower than the overall market. The traditional leader Volkswagen Golf is feeling the competition from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, but its top spot is in no way threatened. In fact, VW feels so confident about the strength of the Golf nameplate, its upcoming facelift will keep exterior design updates to a minimum. The Golf will be made up-to-date on in-car technology, with gesture control for its multimedia system and semi-autonomous features. Meanwhile, the Astra is the biggest winner of the segment in volume terms and is now the only other compact car with a double digit share of the segment. After narrowly edging out the Ford Focus for 3rd place in the first half of 2016, the Skoda Octavia firmly consolidates that position in Q3, as the Focus is the biggest loser in the top-10.
At +6% in the first half of 2016, sales of compact cars in Europe grew faster than the minicar and subcompact segments, but slower than the overall market. In Q2 the compact car segment grew by 10%, which is just ahead of the market’s 9,8% gain. The Volkswagen Golf remains untouchable despite the diesel scandal and renewed competition from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, but it is one of only 3 models in the top-10 to lose volume. The Golf’s closest rival from a year ago, the Ford Focus, loses even more and is pushed down into fourth place by the new generation Astra, up 27%. With the Skoda Octavia in third place and the Seat Leon in sixth, the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform takes almost 37% of sales in the second largest segment in Europe. With the Focus starting to age, the Peugeto 308 has a shot at grabbing fourth place in the segment by the end of the year, a ranking last achieved by the previous generation in 2008. The 308 already outsold the Focus in May and was just 750 units behind in Q2. The new generation Renault Megane has started deliveries and is aiming for 6th place in the segment by year-end, as it already outsold the Leon and the Toyota Auris in Q2.
At +4% in Q1 of 2016, sales of compact cars in Europe grew at a similar rate as the minicar and subcompact segments, at half the growth rate of the overall market. The perennial leader Volkswagen Golf is still firmly in control despite losing 2% of its volume on last year. Its nearest competitor from a year ago, the Ford Focus, also loses a percent and is overtaken by the surging Opel/Vauxhall Astra, up 30% thanks to the new generation. That still leaves the Golf untouchable, selling more than the #2 and #3 combined, but at least the competition doesn’t sit still like in the midsized segment. The Skoda Octavia is kicked off the podium, which it has impressively held for two years. And the Peugeot 308 is closing in quickly, as it already did in the final months of 2015. The Seat Leon is surprisingly stable and stays ahead of the facelifted Toyota Auris, while the Renault Megane is the biggest loser of the top-10 and drops a spot as it awaits the arrival of the new, fourth generation.[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…]