With a bit of a delay we’ll start with the European segment analyses for 2016, starting of course with the minicar segment. Sales of minicars in Europe were stable in 2016 with 1,33 million units sold, compared to an overall market growth of 6,2%. Fiat still holds the top 2 spots of the podium and grows its share of the segment to over 28%, but after 3 years of Fiat 500 reign the Fiat Panda has reclaimed leadership of the segment it led from 2004 until 2012. The Volkswagen Up! holds on to its third place but loses 8% of its volume. The Renault Twingo, leader of the segment between 1999 and 2003, is knocked down into 5th place by the Hyundai i10 and feels the Toyota Aygo breathing down its neck. All three models lose volume in 2016. The Smart Fortwo is the biggest winner in the top-10 with sales up 21%, jumping four places on 2015 and two places on Q3 of 2016. The small two seater even outsold the Aygo in Q4. [Read more…]
With a bit of a delay we’ll start with the European segment analyses for the first three quarters of 2016, starting of course with the minicar segment. After growing 5% in the first half of the year, sales of Europe’s smallest cars have dropped in Q3, reducing the year-to-date growth rate to just 1%. The slowdown of the Volkswagen Up! and the Fiat Panda are largely responsible for this, and this has enabled the Fiat 500 to outsell its sibling in Q3 and threaten it for the segment’s full year top position which it has held since 2013. The third place of the Up! appears unthreatened, but the Renault Twingo has dropped from 4th place in the first half to 6th place after nine months after being outsold by the Toyota Aygo and Hyundai i10. The latter of these two was the #3 seller of the segment in Q3, even topping the little VW. The Lancia Ypsilon holds on to its 7th place, but all five of its closest challengers in places 8 to 12 were within 150 sales of each other in Q3 and all outsold the Ypsilon this quarter.
The minicar segment in Europe grows 5% in the first half of 2016, which is lower than the overall market at +8,8%. The two Italian segment leaders benefit from the impressive rebound of the Italian car market, the fastest growing major market in the EU. The Fiat Panda is more dependent on its home market than its sibling Fiat 500, and therefore is able to hold on to the segment lead, which it already claimed in the first quarter. The help Fiat hold a 28,5% share of the segment. The Volkswagen Up! remains a distant third with less than half the volume of the leader with sales down 5%, while the Renault Twingo reclaims its fourth place after having dropped to sixth in the first quarter. The rear-engined, rear-wheel drive Twingo lost a lot of ground in Q1 and has recovered only half of that in Q2, but should be able to hold on to its position for the rest of the year, with not a lot of new or updated models arriving in showrooms the coming months. The Toyota Aygo stays well clear of its PSA siblings Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1, while the Smart Fortwo is the biggest winner in the top-10 with an increase of 26%. It even outsold the 108 in Q2 and looks set to leapfrog the French minicar to steal 8th place. That’s still a long way from the fifth place it held in 2013 and before, but bear in mind there were fewer rivals back then, and the Forfour surely cannibalizes some Fortwo sales as well.
The minicar segment in Europe grows at half the pace of the overall market, at +4% in the first quarter of 2016. The two Italian segment leaders grow faster than the rest of the segment on average and boost their share from 26,4% to 29%, helped by the strong recovery of their home market so far this year. The Fiat Panda has overtaken the Fiat 500 to reclaim its leadership thanks to a very strong first two months, but I don’t think it will hold on to that lead until the end of the year, as the 500 has proven very strong, even though its facelift last year was only minor. The Volkswagen Up! loses 12% but holds on to its third place as last year’s closest rival Renault Twingo loses a painful 22% and drops to sixth place.[Read more…]
This is our third installment of our series on car models which continued to be produced under a new owner and a new name in China after having been retired from their original market. In part 1 we discussed the Seat Toledo, Seat Ibiza, MG ZT, MG TF, Rover Streetwise and LDV Maxus and in part 2 the Volkswagen Jetta, Audi 100, Daihatsu Move and Austin Maestro/Montego. In part 3 we’ll look at Zotye, a small auto maker based in the Zhejiang province in China that’s presently best known for blatantly copying foreign car designs. But Zotye hasn’t always taken illegal inspiration from Western designs, they started off large scale production by legally acquiring a number of obsolete platforms and designs from Western automakers, some of which never even made it into full production.
Suzuki Alto 2nd generation (1984-1988) -> Zotye Jiangnan Alto (1988-2013)
The second generation Suzuki Alto, produced in Japan between 1984 and 1988 has proven to be a true evergreen. After its short first life, production moved to no less than four different manufacturers, two of which still continue to sell the model today. The first one was Maruti, Suzuki’s own branch in India, which has sold the model as the Maruti 800 from 1986 to 2003. In neighboring Pakistan, Suzuki’s local branch Pak Suzuki started production of the Alto in 1988 and still continues to do so today as the Suzuki Mehran.
In China, Suzuki licensed production of the Alto to two manufacturers. Changan Auto, Suzuki’s manufacturing Joint Venture partner, produced the Alto from 1988 until 2008 as the Changan SC7080. Simultaneously, Jiangnan Auto produced their own version of the Alto, called the JN Auto. Jiagnan also exported CKD (Complete Knock Down) kits to PSA in Tunisia for local assembly as the Peugeot JN Mini (just over 7.500 assembled until 2003) and to Iran Khodro until 2000 for assembly as the Iran Khodro Alto, to compete with the Saipa Nasim, which was a locally assembled Kia Pride/Mazda 121. Jiangnan was taken over by Zotye in 2009 and the car was renamed Jiangnan Alto or Jiangnan TT. It was marketed at the end of 2010 as the cheapest new car in the world, with a price of 18.800 yuan, or US$ 2,830 at that moment’s exchange rates, close to the price of India’s Tata Nano. Production is said to have ended in 2013, but new registrations are still reported in 2016. Reportedly as a replacement to the TT, Zotye started production of the Z100 in 2013, which is “coincidentally” a carbon copy of the 7th generation Alto, the one produced from 2009. They’ve even made an all-electric version of the car: the Zotye Z100 EV. Zotye doesn’t have the license for this design, as it’s already produced by Changan-Suzuki, but so far they’ve gotten away with it, which unfortunately supports their decision to stop buying licenses and just copy existing designs. [Read more…]
The growth in the minicar segment in Europe has slowed in the fourth quarter, as the segment ends 2015 with 1.332.146 sales, an increase of 8% after growing 10% in each of the first three quarters. The Fiat 500 manages to hold on to its title for the third year in a row despite stable sales as the 500 suffered slightly from a slow fourth quarter as the factory was still gearing up for the model’s first facelift in 7 years time. For Fiat it was the 12th consecutive year on top of the minicar segment since the Panda took over from the Renault Twingo in 2004. Fiat Panda sales were up 13% in 2015 as it closed the gap to its sibling the “Nuova Cinquecento” to less than 9.000 sales.
The Volkswagen Up! is in third place again, despite losing 16% of volume. In Q4 the little VW sold only 40 more units than the Twingo, which closes in for the full year with sales up 17%. The Toyota Aygo does even better at +25% thanks to the new generation. This helps the Aygo move past the Hyundai i10 into 5th place. Its siblings Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1 are a still behind the i10 in #7 and #8, which puts them above the Lancia Ypsilon, down 5% to a still respectable 60.000 sales. [Read more…]
After the first nine months of 2015 the minicar segment is still up by 10%, as it has been all year. It has been helped by a number of newcomers and model changes, which have also slightly eaten into the share of the segment leader Fiat 500, which sees flat sales as it’s been updated ever so slightly. Fiat obviously doesn’t want to mess too much with the model that’s kept it afloat for the last half a decade. The 500’s sibling Fiat Panda does better than the overall segment and closes in on the #1 spot it held until 2012.
The Volkswagen Up! has shaken off the Renault Twingo which had closed in on third place after the first half, but the little VW is still down 16% on last year, while the Twingo is up 22%. [Read more…]
The minicar segment in Europe is still up 10% in the first half of 2015. This means sales of the smallest cars are growing faster than the overall market, which is up 8%. The top-3 of the segment is still unchanged, as the Fiat 500 keeps improving to almost 100.000 sales in six months, even though it’s been on the market since 2007 and a minor facelift is coming up (pictured). Its sibling Fiat Panda shows an improvement of 11%, increasing its share of the segment to the highest level since 2012. This strength of the Fiat models is largely thanks to the recovery of the Italian car market, which is the continent’s #1 minicar market, as well as the natural habitat of the 500 and Panda.
While the increased competition from newly introduced models doesn’t seem to affect the Fiat offerings thanks to the aforementioned reason, the Volkswagen Up! does feel the heat from fresher products like the Renault Twingo. The Twingo improves 39% year-on-year and is only 3.500 units off the segment podium. In fact, the Twingo outsold the Up! already in June. [Read more…]
European sales of minicars, also known as A-segment cars, are up 10% in the first quarter of 2015, after being virtually flat in 2014. The introduction of a handful of new and redesigned models in the second quarter of last year has helped the segment grow faster than the overall European car market.
The Fiat 500 is now in its 8th full year since its introduction without any major redesigns, continues to improve on its best-ever year, although sales of the stylish Italian grow slower than the rest of the segment. Its sibling, the Fiat Panda closes in on the segment’s top spot it traditionally held until 2013.
The third place of the Volkswagen Up! is threatened by the all-new Renault Twingo, which manages to improve 44% vs. a 12% drop in sales for the small VW. The Twingo enjoyed an especially successful month of February, moving into third place for that month. However in March, the third place of the segment was taken by the Hyundai i10, which wasn’t enough for the small South-Korean minicar to fend off the surging Toyota Aygo with sales up 30% thanks to the new generation. [Read more…]
European sales in the minicar segment have climbed back into the positive over the full year 2014, although the increase is just a meager 1% on 2013, or 8.170 units. This is a result of the flood of new models that arrived in showrooms late last year, which should help the minicar segment grow faster than the overall market in 2015.
Despite its age, the Fiat 500 not only consolidates its leadership of the segment by adding the most sales of all models, it also breaks its 2009 annual sales record to make 2014 its best year ever. The 500 all by itself sells more cars in Europe than the Peugeot 107/108, Toyota Aygo and Citroën C1 triplets combined, and doing so at (much) higher transaction prices. And with the Panda remaining stable in second spot, Fiat increases its share of the minicar segment to over 27%.
The Volkswagen Up! is starting to feel the heat of the increased competition by its nearest competitors, but its third place remains unchallenged for now. It’s actually more stable than its siblings Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii, and now accounts for two thirds of the triplet’s combined sales. [Read more…]