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.
The large MPV segment is boosted by new arrivals in Q3 of 2015, as the segment is up a still modest 2,2% in the third quarter, reducing its year-to-date loss to “just” 13%, from -19% in the first half. The near future of the segment looks relatively bright, considering the all-new Renault Espace is still getting up to speed and the new generations Ford Galaxy and S-Max will reach full potential in 2016 as well.
For now the Volkswagen Sharan keeps the lead of the segment, ahead of its corporate clone Seat Alhambra with a combined 57,7% share of the segment (down from 61,5% in the first half), but in September the Ford S-Max was boosted by a traditionally strong month of September, its 2nd biggest market, to lead the segment ahead of the Espace, with the Sharan surprisingly in fourth place behind the Alhambra as well. [Read more…]
Sales of large MPVs are down 19% in the first half, which is a slight recovery from the -26% in Q1. Both Ford models still losing more than half of their volume, as the new generations S-Max and Galaxy have only just been introduced. The S-Max will start its comeback in Q3 and the Galaxy in Q4. Meanwhile, the new generation Renault Espace has already been on sale for a few weeks, and it’s already threatening the S-Max for third place year-to-date. In fact, the Espace outsold its Spanish-built German-American rival by a 3 : 1 ratio in June and even outsold the Seat Alhambra that month to claim second place of the segment.
The Volkswagen Sharan remains unfazed by the arrival of the Espace, and even increases its growth rate from +5% in Q1 to +10% in the first half. The Sharan will surely finish the year on top of the segment, but with the Espace, S-Max and Galaxy in full steam next year, the battle for first place will be on. The Renault has taken first strike, anybody already want to make a prediction for next year? [Read more…]
If the large MPV segment has firmly held its ground last year, with sales up 5% after years of decline, thanks to large discounts on the outgoing Ford S-Max and Galaxy, 2015 sales are in the sink, as customers are awaiting the arrival of the new generations of both Fords and the Renault Espace.
This model change-over has given the VW Group twins Volkswagen Sharan and Seat Alhambra the opportunity to steal the limelight and take a one-two finish with a combined share of the segment of 62,5%. The performance of the Alhambra is especially noteworthy, as the model has increased its sales every year since its new generation arrived in showrooms in 2011, as opposed to most cars which peak shortly before slowly declining until the next update. In fact, if the model can keep up this pace through the rest of the year (which I doubt it can), it will score its highest sales ever, for all generations of the MPV.
With an increase of 5%, the large MPV segment in Europe has rebounded slightly in 2014 from its record low a year earlier when sales plunged by 17%, but that still makes it the second-worst year in more than two decades.
The ranking remains stable, with the Volkwagen Sharan and Ford S-Max increasing their share of the segment to over half of all sales in the segment, with the biggest winner in third place, as the Seat Alhambra adds 18% to last year’s volume. With the Ford Galaxy in fourth place, the VW Group and Ford take almost 87,5% of large MPV sales in the continent.
The new generation of the sporty S-Max is ready to hit European dealerships in the second quarter of 2015, followed by the functional and spacious Galaxy by the end of the year, so Ford is likely to steal VW’s crown as MPV best seller over the next 12 months. [Read more…]