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.
Sales in the Mid-sized segment fell by 10.1 percent in 2016, a performance so bad it almost matched the 11.0 percent fall in sales registered by the Minicar segment (the worst among all mainstream segments). Midsized cars used to be the segment where the money was made, even when SUVs and crossovers started to gain a foothold in the US car market during the 1990s and early 2000s. But that boom has started to pick up speed this year, fueled by hot new models and affordable gas. In contrast there haven’t been many major model updates in the midsized segment lately. As a result, the largest-selling segment in 2016 by far was Compact SUVs (sales up 3.9 percent), with Mid-sized cars coming in second, followed closely by the Large Pickups and Compact segments (sales up 3.6 and down 4.5 percent, respectively). With new models like Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima failing to connect with buyers, only the new Toyota Camry and Honda Accord stand between the segment and losing third spot in the standings to the Large Pickups segment.
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.
Sales of Mid-sized cars in the United States fell by 16 percent in the third quarter of 2016, as the freefall of sales in the segment accelerates. Midsized cars used to be the segment where the money was made, even when SUVs and crossovers started to gain a foothold in the US car market during the 1990s and early 2000s. But that boom has started to pick up speed this year, fueled by hot new models and affordable gas. In contrast there haven’t been many major model updates in the midsized segment lately. As a result, compact crossover are expected to become the biggest segment this year, with even the full-sized pickup truck and the compact car segments closing in on midsized cars in recent months and even threatening to push the segment to fourth place. Until the segment gets an injection of fresh product, for example from the next generation Toyota Camry next year, there will be little that can turn this fate around. Out of the 14 midsized models, only 3 improved their sales in Q3, with 9 models showing double digit losses.
The current Subaru Legacy, which came out in 2014, is a big improvement over its frumpy predecessor – it’s sheetmetal is considerably sleeker, the details look like someone actually was paying attention to them, and the whole looks rather attractive as a result. That said, the car can hardly be accused of being the most originally styled on the market, and it’s clear that parts of its design where inspired by other cars. In fact, the whole rear of the car seems to have been taken wholesale from a luxury car launched a year earlier by another carmaker.
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.
Sales in the Mid-sized segment fell by 11 percent in the second quarter, the largest fall amongst the mainstream segments. This comes as a disappointment after the segment showed signs of recovery in the first quarter of 2016, when it did better than the Minicar, Subcompact and Compact segments. It is doubly disappointing given the amount of new metal in the segment: cars that have gone on sale in the past half year include the new-for-2016 Chevy Malibu and Kia Optima, as well as the facelifted Nissan Altima, while the Hyundai Sonata and facelifted VW Passat are also less than one year old.
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 in the mid-sized segment fell by 3% compared to Q1 2015, pushing this once-largest segment further behind compact SUV cars as families’ wheels of choice. That said, it did better than the smaller mainstream segments, again showing how cheap gas is pushing consumers to buy larger cars. The good times are likely to continue rolling for the segment, too, as sales of the new-for-2016 Chevy Malibu and Kia Optima come fully on-stream, while brings the facelifted Ford Fusion to market. [Read more…]
When the seventh generation of the Hyundai Sonata came out in 2014 there was a strong sense of disappointment, as the new model seemed to have lost most of what the previous, game-changing generation so special. Gone were the bold swoops and a coupe-like shape, replaced with a more “mature” design that was neither as sophisticated or as original as the best rivals. It is easy to understand what Hyundai was going for, trying to appeal to conservative buyers without alienating those who liked the design of the sixth generation, but it is fair to say the execution should have been better. Consumers noticed and voted with their wallets: the seventh generation has so far been unable to match the annual sales figures of its predecessor.