The midsized MPV segment in Europe continues to shrink in 2016, with sales down 3% for the full year and down an even more painful 7% in Q4. In both periods, 7 models of the top-10 lost volume and in Q4 six of those did that with double digits. The top of the ranking is completely reshuffled from 2015 as the former numbers 1, 2 and 3 are now down to 2nd, 6th and 4th place. The Volkswagen Touran took the lead of the segment for the first time ever in Q3 and held on to it for the full year. This is the first time ever that a French car does not lead the midsized MPV segment, as the Citroën C4 Picasso loses 4% and the Renault Scenic is the biggest loser of the remaining models in the segment as its new generation is about to hit showrooms. As a result, we now find an MPV from a luxury brand on the podium for the first time ever: the BMW 2-Series Active and Gran Tourer.
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.
Yesterday Hyundai announced that the Ioniq Hybrid will cost around $23,000 when it goes on sale in the US, which makes it some $2,000 cheaper than its main competitor, Toyota Prius. In addition, the Hyundai can claim to be considerably more efficient than the Toyota, at least on paper, promising 58 mpg combined to the latter’s 52 mpg. So far things look promising for the Hyundai, but can it really succeed where the likes of Honda Insight failed?
Sales of Alternative Power cars across all segments fell by 11.2 percent in 2016, making this the third year in a year of decline in a row. This means that, with 264,287 sales in 2016, the meta-segment is some 25 percent smaller than it was at its peak in 2013, though it is still more than twice as big as it was a decade ago. That said, prospects for cars with alternative power still look pretty bleak because cheap gas keeps luring people away from EVs, hybrids and more fuel-efficient cars in general into larger crossovers, SUVs and pick-up trucks. Not even the new Toyota Prius liftback, Chevrolet Volt or Tesla Model X seem to be able to stop that.
Sales of midsized MPVs have been very stable in recent years, without any big growth or contraction. In the first half of 2016, sales increased 1% but in Q3 the segment suddenly lost 8% of its volume and is now down 2% year-to-date. Another big shock is the crowning of a new leader of the segment, which has been dominated by the French since Renault launched the first generation (Megane) Scenic in 1996. The Scenic and Citroën C4 Picasso have alternated as segment leaders in recent years, but this quarter the new generation Volkswagen Touran has claimed the year-to-date top spot and looks set to hold on to it until the end of the year, which would be a first time ever for the nameplate. Volkswagen now dominates 4 out of 7 mainstream car and MPV segments. In third place we find yet another German: the BMW 2-Series Active/Gran Tourer, the best selling luxury MPV in Europe.
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.
The decline of sales in the Alternative Power segment slowed down somewhat in the third quarter of 2016 to just 6 percent, a much better (less bad) performance than the 21 perent drop in sales in Q2. That said, prospects for the segment still look pretty bleak because cheap gas keeps luring people away from EVs, hybrids and more fuel-efficient cars in general into larger crossovers, SUVs and pick-up trucks. Not even the new Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Volt or Tesla Model X seem to be able to stop that.
The midsized MPV segment in Europe has been very stable in volume for the past couple of years, alternating single digit growth and contraction, and continues that stability in the first half of 2016 with sales up just one percent. That still compares negatively to the overall market, which grew by 8,8% in the same period. Individual model sales are much less stable, with a few big winners and one big loser in the segment. The leader is unchanged for now, as the Citroën C4 Picasso actually gains share with a 5% increase, but it’s under heavy pressure from the new generation Volkswagen Touran, which is up 37% on its previous generation last year and outsold the Picasso by 150 units in Q2. If the Touran manages to grab the segment title by year-end, that would be the first time for the model, whose highest ranking so far has been a 2nd place in 2004 when the first generation was still fresh. The biggest winner in the first half is the BMW 2-Series Active/Grand Tourer, adding 56% to its volume of last year, when the 7-seater was not yet available and the Active Tourer was still in start-up mode. A third place in the segment is nonetheless an impressive performance for the premium-priced model from a brand that has had no offering in the segment before.
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.
Sales in the Alternative Power segment accelerated their freefall by plummeting 21% in Q2 of 2016 to just 63,084 vehicles, after an 11% decrease in the first quarter. This is the biggest decline of all segments in the second quarter, and the main reason for the softening demand is clear: cheap gas keeps luring people away from EVs, hybrids and more fuel-efficient cars in general into larger crossovers, SUVs and pick-up trucks. And there’s no indication of the oil price going back up anytime soon, which spells more bad news for EVs and hybrids. Perhaps a few new model launches can breath some new life into the segment, most notably the new generation Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model X.