At +4% in Q1 of 2016, sales of compact cars in Europe grew at a similar rate as the minicar and subcompact segments, at half the growth rate of the overall market. The perennial leader Volkswagen Golf is still firmly in control despite losing 2% of its volume on last year. Its nearest competitor from a year ago, the Ford Focus, also loses a percent and is overtaken by the surging Opel/Vauxhall Astra, up 30% thanks to the new generation. That still leaves the Golf untouchable, selling more than the #2 and #3 combined, but at least the competition doesn’t sit still like in the midsized segment. The Skoda Octavia is kicked off the podium, which it has impressively held for two years. And the Peugeot 308 is closing in quickly, as it already did in the final months of 2015. The Seat Leon is surprisingly stable and stays ahead of the facelifted Toyota Auris, while the Renault Megane is the biggest loser of the top-10 and drops a spot as it awaits the arrival of the new, fourth generation.[Read more…]
The 2016 New York Auto Show has started, and while it’s not as important as the show in Detroit, nor as West-Coast flashy as the show in LA, a handful of automakers still picked it to reveal their new or updated models, or concepts of upcoming models. We’ve picked the 7 most significant ones and compared notes. Let us know what you think of them in the comments below.
Acura MDX facelift
I’m glad they finally ditched the chrome shield in the grille, but the downside is that the MDX has become even more anonymous than it was before. Acura’s design is apparently going the complete opposite of that of Lexus, who are getting more extreme with every launch. That probably makes the MDX the perfect minivan-that’s-not-a-minivan, so they’ll probably continue to sell a ton of them. They also have a hybrid now, with the same system as the NSX. The MDX surely has a lot of good things going for it, otherwise it wouldn’t be the #2 of its segment. And yes, the Q7 is shockingly awful and Mercedes hasn’t gotten the styling quite right in any of the ML/GLE generations, but I think the X5 beats the MDX in styling, even if for the simple fact that it actually gets noticed.
It’s funny, you say “Miss”, but I read a lot of good things: “ditched the chrome shield grille”, “perfect minivan-that’s-not-a-minivan”, “hybrid with the same system as the NSX”. I had a soft spot for the MDX Mk II, and while the new model is not quite as muscular-looking as that, I think the facelift makes it into a rather handsome car, better-looking than any of the German trio (Q7, X5 and ML). In my mind Acura would do best to emulate the inoffensive Audis of late 1990s/early 2000s, and this fits the bill perfectly.
Sales in the Alternative Power segment fell by 4% in 2015 to 116,065, as cheap fossil fuel caused car buyers away from small cars, hybrids and EVs and into crossovers, SUVs and pick-up trucks. Sales of EVs and PHEVs in Europe, where gas is less cheap, totaled 189,461 units, up 94%. Short sighted Americans? Well, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles is betting on gasoline to stay cheap for at least a decade as it doubles down on trucks and will forgo sedans and electric cars. Still, EVs and PHEVs are here to stay and Tesla is determined to prove all the others wrong. Its has won its first battle, as a 51% increase in sales has helped the Model S become the best selling electrified vehicle in the United States with over 25,000 sales. The Nissan Leaf drops to second place and loses 43% of its volume, as competition in its price range intensified and an updated version is on its way, promising more range. [Read more…]
Sales of Midsized MPVs in Europe are up 4% to 906.300 in 2015, but that’s mostly thanks to two new models as all others in the top-10 lose volume and only 4 out of 18 models actually improve on their 2014 score. The French still lead this segment as their home country is the biggest market in Europe for this type of vehicle. The Citroën C4 Picasso and Renault Scenic, including their Grand versions, have now been joined by the Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan to make it three models with sales over 100.000 units. The Sportsvan is up 75% on its first partial year of sales, but doesn’t set is not a record for the brand, as its predecessor Golf Plus sold more than this in 2005, 2006 and 2009.
Sales in the second-largest segment in Europe are up 5% in 2015 to 2.317.728 units, which is a slower growth than the overall market as customers continue to switch to crossovers. The Volkswagen Golf loses half a percentage point of share, but that still leaves it with 23,1% of the segment. 2015 is probably the last year in a while the Golf tops half a million registrations, as it will start to feel increased competition from the new generation Opel-Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane. The outgoing Astra is kicked down into 5th place by the Peugeot 308 but should easily finish 2016 in 2nd place. The Skoda Octavia barely holds on to its third place as the surging 308 adds almost a third to its volume and two percentage points of share to come within 2.000 units of its Czech rival. Some stats even put the Peugeot ahead of the Octavia in the Full Year data, but when I add up their monthly sales this is what they add up to. Whichever way you look at it, this has been a stellar year for the former Car of the Year as it is single-handedly responsible for half of the segment increase and has more than doubled the nameplate’s sales in two years time. [Read more…]
Hyundai finally released full pictures and details of its new eco-warrior, the Ioniq. Uniquely for a manufacturer, Hyundai plans for the Ioniq to offer a variety of different powertrains, all using the same body:
- A standard hybrid, to battle the Toyota Prius and its ilk
- A plug-in hybrid, to battle the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in and similar
- An electric version, which will compete with the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt
Sales in the Alternative Power segment continued falling in Q3 2015 at 17% compared to the same period last year, even faster than the 12% fall in the first half of the year. It is clear that low gas prices are bad news for this segment… [Read more…]
The midsized MPV segment in Europe goes deeper into a sales slump in Q3 of 2015, with sales down 8,7% in the quarter and now -4% year-to-date. In the first three quarters of this year, only two models in the top-10 show improve on their volume from last year. As opposed to most other segments, there’s an actual battle for the top spot between midsized MPVs this year, with the Citroën C4 Picasso reclaiming the lead after losing it to the Renault Scenic in Q2, but the Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan isn’t far behind either, and it was the best selling model in Q3. If all three continue like this in the last quarter, the Scenic will drop to the bottom step of the podium, which isn’t very surprising when you consider it’s about to be replaced early next year.
The Golf Sportsvan is cannibalizing the aging VW Touran somewhat, as that model dropped to 7th place of the segment in Q3 and 5th place year-to-date as the Ford C-Max took advantage of its weak rival by outselling the Touran by a 2:1 ratio in Q3. If the VW keeps struggling like this from the slow changeover to the new generation Touran, the Peugeot 3008 may reappear into the top-5 by the end of its seventh year on the market. The 3008 is leaving the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira clearly behind so far, which is the surviving model that’s going down the fastest, losing almost a third of its volume on last year. [Read more…]
The compact car segment in Europe is up 5% in the first three quarters of 2015, which is slower than the overall market, but the segment is likely to get a boost in 2016 from a few important model launches, most notably from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and the Renault Megane. None of these is very likely to topple the Volkswagen Golf from its first place in the segment and in fact the entire car market, as the Golf holds a firm 23% share of the segment. The top-3 is still completed by the Ford Focus and Skoda Octavia, as the latter has fallen short in its attempt to pass the Focus.
For fourth place, the Peugeot 308 is already in danger of recapitulating the position it took in the beginning of the year from the Astra, as GM is boosting the outgoing model with huge incentives. The new generation Astra has arrived in showrooms in Q4 and we’ll have to wait and see if it gains traction quickly enough to take back its fourth position by the time the year comes to an end. [Read more…]