The midsized car segment in Europe is in continuous decline as it is in the US. An 11% drop in sales in Q3 leads to a 14% loss in the first three quarters of the year. So far this year, only 2 nameplates manage to improve year-over-year and all but one of the other models show double digit declines. In the third quarter, 2 of the top-3 manage to improve their volume, but the distant segment leader VW Passat is still down by 8% this quarter. It still holds a one third share of the segment and like its smaller sibling Golf outsells its closest rival by more than a 2-to-1 margin and like in the compact car segment that #2 is a Skoda. That means the Volkswagen Group controls almost half of the sales in this segment. However, the Skoda Superb was outsold in Q3 by the all-new Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, which moves back onto the segment year-to-date podium by passing the Ford Mondeo, down 17% for the quarter and down 22% for the year.
The midsized car segment in Europe is in continuous decline as it is in the US. A 19% drop in sales in Q2 leads to a 16% loss in the first half of the year. With 286.049 sales, the segment now accounts for just 3,4% of total European volume. Only 2 nameplates manage to improve year-over-year and all but one of the other models show double digit declines. In Q2, the entire top-4 lost 13% or more, of which the segment leader Volkswagen Passat did the least bad and therefore improves its already high share of the segment to 33,2%, which means one in three midsized cars sold are a Passat. Count in the Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Group holds a whopping 48,8% share of the segment. The Superb has fallen into the red as well in Q2 after growing in the first quarter. But its second place of the segment is not under threat as its nearest two rivals drop even harder. The Ford Mondeo holds on to its 3rd place despite a 28% loss in Q2, as the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia loses 29% as customer deliveries of the new generation are only just starting. Expect the Insignia to finish 2017 ahead of the Mondeo again, as it has done ever since its launch.
Sales of midsized sedans (and station wagons) are crashing down hard in Europe just as they are across the Atlantic. In Q1 of 2017 sales were down 12% to just 145.500 units in an overall market up 7,8%. Only 3 nameplates in the segment improve year-over-year, and all others show double digit losses. In this depressed context, the Volkswagen Passat holds on to its commanding lead despite a 15% loss of volume. It still sells almost twice as many units as its closest rival, its platform sibling Skoda Superb. The two models increase their combined share of the segment to 46,9%, as the current generation Ford Mondeo just never really caught on in Europe and the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia suffers from its model change. As a result, the Mondeo is temporarily back onto the podium, but will be knocked off once deliveries of the new Insignia pick up steam. Perhaps it can even threaten the Superb for 2nd place over the course of the full year 2017.
The midsized sedan (and station wagon) segment is losing ground in Europe just as it is across the Atlantic. In Q4 of 2016 sales were down 10% to end the year barely in the black: up just 1% from 2015 to 625.185 sales. In the last quarter, 7 models in the top-10 lost volume and all did so with double digits. The Volkswagen Passat holds on to its dominant lead but loses 3,4 percentage points of share compared to 2015 while its sibling Skoda Superb surges 70% to take 2nd place, which means Volkswagen Group still grows its share of the segment to almost 47%. The traditional podium fighters Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo are kicked down to fight for 3rd and 4th place. The Insignia holds on to its podium spot for the year, but in Q4 the Mondeo sold 600 units more than its rival which will be replaced by a new generation in 2017. However, there’s a new challenger on the block: In December the Renault Talisman outsold both of them to claim the segment 3rd place. With the Insignia weakened due to the model change and the current Mondeo having never struck a chord with European buyers, the Talisman should have a shot at the podium in the first half of the year, although the Insignia will strike back when the new generation has launched, helped by its popularity in the UK market where the Renault is absent.
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 surprisingly well in 2016 and which do we expect to surprise in 2017. We’ll also look at which cars or brands have disappointed from a sales volume point of view in a separate article. Click the following links to check back on last year’s surprises or disappointments.
1. Skoda Superb
The third generation Superb has been an instant hit, breaking all records of its predecessors. In 2016 alone, approximately 86.000 Superbs were sold (79.200 through November), one sixth of its cumulative total of 518.000 European sales in 15 years and three generations. The Superb has improved with every generation: the first generation, which basically a long wheelbase Volkswagen Passat with a Skoda grille, sold an average of 15.500 annual units during its 7-year long career. The second generation with the double trunklid took the model to the next level with an average of 46.200 annual sales in its equally long career, peaking at 56.000 in 2011. But when the third generation launched in 2015 the Superb achieved new heights: its previous annual record has been smashed by 50% and for the first time the nameplate took 2nd place in the midsized segment, behind the Passat but comfortably ahead of segment mainstays like the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo. All on the same recipe as before: value for money, conservative styling, and above average interior room.
Ever since the Diesel scandal broke in the US, there have been rumors that Skoda could step up to enter the North American market to pick up the lost share or even to replace the tarnished VW brand altogether in this market. Kriss even wrote an article explaining in 5 points why it would make sense for Skoda to enter the US market 18 months ago, before the emission cheating software had been revealed. In the poll at the end of that article, 63% of our respondents thought VW should base its US offerings on Skoda models. This week, the influential auto journalist and well-informed industry watcher Georg Kacher quotes a senior VW board member: “We may be crazy, but we’re not mad. Entering this huge market with an unknown brand, a model range focused on Europe, and a non-existent dealer network is pure suicide. Furthermore, the last thing Volkswagen of America needs now is in-house cannibalization.”
The irony in this quote lies in the part “a model range focused on Europe”, because that’s exactly what Volkswagen itself has been unsuccessfully attempting to to for decades. [Read more…]
The midsized car segment in Europe grew sharply in 2015 as two of the best sellers were renewed, but that growth has flattened to just 5% in the first nine months of 2016, slower than the overall market at +7,5%. This hasn’t stopped Volkswagen Group to increase its share of the segment from 43,1% last year to 46,2% this year, and occupying the top two spots of the podium. The VW Passat loses 4% but is still ultra dominant with almost one-in-three sales in this segment, followed by the Skoda Superb which almost doubles its volume of last year thanks to the new generation. In Q3 the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia was only 500 units behind the Superb, despite being due for a replacement early 2017. That leaves the Ford Mondeo in fourth place, unable to make a fist against the much older Insignia.
The midsized car segment in Europe grew sharply in 2015 as two of the best sellers were renewed, but that growth has flattened to 8% in the first half of 2016, slightly slower than the overall market at +8,8%. With sales flat year-over-year, the Volkswagen Passat loses some market share, but is still at 32,7% of segment shares. Combined with sales of its sister model, the Skoda Superb, the Volkswagen MQB platform underpins almost 1 in every 2 midsized cars sold in Europe. The Superb has doubled its sales of last year, thanks to the very successful launch of its new generation, but also because its closest rivals lost volume. The Opel/Vauxhall Insignia is about to be replaced in the second half of this year, and the Ford Mondeo simply hasn’t hit a chord with European buyers. Its design is only evolutionary from the previous generation, especially from the rear three-quarters, and was already two years old in the US (as the Fusion) and China before production in Europe finally started. The Peugeot 508 is aging as well and continues to lose share, but PSA has made clear there are no plans yet to develop another midsized sedan (and station wagon), as the company is focusing on crossovers and SUVs, a segment where it believes it can compete better against Volkswagen and the luxury brands.
After booming last year on the launch of two important new models, the midsized car segment still outgrows the overall market in Q1 of 2016, albeit only slightly at +9% vs. +8,2%. The dominant leader Volkswagen Passat loses a bit of market share, but the VW Group actually increases its stranglehold on the segment from 41,2% in Q1 of 2015 and 44,7% over the full year 2015 to 45,2% last quarter, as the new generation Skoda Superb is the fastest growing model in the top-10. The Superb surges from 5th place to the #2 spot, just ahead of the Ford Mondeo, which continues to improve and finally manages to outsell the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, but not convincingly so, as the Insignia outsold it in March. Still, the Mondeo should be able to hold on to a podium spot by the end of the year, but it won’t threaten the Passat as much as Ford had hoped it would.[Read more…]
Sales of midsized cars have rebounded hard in 2015 from over a decade of losses to add over 100.000 units of volume in 2015, an increase of 20% to 619.474 sales. That’s still just over a third of the almost 1,8 million non-premium midsized cars sold in 2001. Two renewed models carry all of the segment increase: the Volkswagen Passat and the Ford Mondeo. The Passat adds almost half to its 2014 volume to take 36,5% share of the segment. It is the only model in the segment above 200.000 sales, and even the only model above 100.000 sales for that matter. Its closest competitor Opel/Vauxhall Insignia drops 4%, which is not too bad considering there are now two fresher competitors around. The biggest winner of the segment is the Mondeo, but that’s not so hard if you consider how deep it had fallen while customers were waiting for the new generation to arrive, 2 years late. Even then, it took the Ford until December to finally outsell the Insignia, and I’m afraid the very evolutionary styling compared to the outgoing model is to blame for that. The Mondeo just too much like the old one in my opinion, especially 3/4 from the rear. [Read more…]