Sales of exotic cars in Europe have accelerated their growth curve in the fourth quarter, and almost all of that growth can be attributed to a single model: the BMW i8. The i8 was already the best selling exotic car in the third quarter, but in Q4 its sales shifted up another gear, as BMW’s Plug-In electric hybrid took a commanding 41,6% share of the segment with 612 sales. As a result, the i8 has come within 150 units of the Ferrari 458 Italia in the full-year ranking, even though customer deliveries didn’t officially start until June. In 2015, look for the i8 in first position of the segment from day one.
This would push the Bentley Continental and the 458 Italia down into second and third place after these two models have controlled this segment for the past three years. And while the Ferrari threatened the Bentley as the 458 Speciale was the hottest product in the first half of 2014, its sales have started to thaw in the second half, when rumors of the 2016 launch of its replacement started to surface. That model, the 488 GTB is due in 2016 and will be Ferrari’s second turbocharged sports car after the recent California T.
Sales of the Ferrari F12 are down a third, but it stayed ahead of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, as that model’s production was ended earlier in the year and Mercedes-Benz managed to sell just 10 units in Q4.
The Rolls Royce Wraith has quickly established itself as the brand’s best seller, passing its sedan sibling Ghost by a large margin in its first full year of sales. A convertible version of the Wraith is due in the second half of 2015 and should continue the model’s hot streak.
The Lamborghini Huracan has already overtaken its predecessor Gallardo in its first year of sales, and came up slightly short to outsell the Aventador, even though the Huracan was Lambo’s best seller in Q3 and Q4. A convertible version named Spider will arrive in the second half of 2015, and the vast number of special editions will probably start in 2016.
McLaren replaced the 12C with the 650S and combined sales of the two models increased 35%, which will continue to improve with the introduction of the 650S Spider and 675LT versions.
Sales of the 400km/h Bugatti Veyron were stable in its second-to-last year, at 12 units, including 2 in the Principality of Monaco, where the speed limit is 50 km/h. And surprisingly, Dutch supercar maker Spyker sold no less than 4 cars in 2014, even though it was declared bankrupt in December before that was later reversed by a judge.
Bentley is aiming to fight the Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe in 2016 after it launches the Grand Convertible in the last quarter of 2015, a spiritual successor to the Bentley Azure.
The large sports car segment is up an encouraging 9%, but without the Jaguar F-type, the segment would actually have been down by 1%.
The British roadster and coupe have certainly struck a chord with European buyers, as it quickly established itself as Jaguar’s second best selling model. However, it’s still a long way from threatening the Porsche 911’s leadership, considering the Stuttgart swagger still owns more than half of the segment’s volume. And with an oncoming facelift of the 911, it’s unlikely to let any competitor get close.
The Jaguar XK enjoys a second wind before its retirement, while the Audi R8 is down because of its upcoming replacement, which has already been teased but won’t start deliveries until next year. The new Corvette C7 Stingray is up almost threefold and into #7, ahead of the Ferrari California, despite that model’s improvement. The California was actually down 44% after the first half of 2014, but the updated version with the brand’s first turbocharged engine, California T, has helped the model to a 25% increase by the end of the year, surpassing its distant relative Maserati GranTurismo and the Nissan GT-R.
Mercedes-Benz will launch its own 911-fighter this year, the AMG-GT will arrive in showrooms in Q2, while Honda will bring its second-generation NSX to Europe at the end of this year. And McLaren will introduce its smallest car, the 570S, to fish in the same 911-pond.
In contrast to the exotic cars and large sports cars, sales of compact sports cars are down harshly at -17% to just over 50.000 units. All of the top-12 models are down with the exception of one newcomer.
As the Audi TT awaits its all-new third generation, the Mercedes-Benz SLK is able to regain some of its lead, as it dips slower than the overall segment. In third place, the Peugeot RCZ has enjoyed a very short-lived revival after its facelift, and is already down 22% over the full year, barely staying ahead of the soon-to-be-retired Mazda MX-5. Deliveries of the fourth generation MX-5 will start in the summer of 2015, followed by its platform-mate Fiat 124 Spider and an Abarth version of that car early next year.
The Toyota GT86 is the biggest loser of the segment at -57% to just 2.617 units, indicating the possible death of the affordable rear-wheel drive sports car. The Alfa Romeo 4C has finished its first year of sales in the top-9 of the segment, outselling cars like the Nissan 370Z and Subaru BRZ. With a Spider version arriving soon, the 4C should have been able to improve further in 2015, if it hadn’t been constrained by limited production figures.
Ford will officially bring the Mustang muscle car to Europe in 2015, with both a four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine and an all-American V8. It should be able to easily outsell the Camaro, which finished in 10th place in 2014.
Compact sports car segment
Alfa Romeo 4C
Hyundai Genesis coupe
Click on any model to see its annual sales from 1997-2013 and monthly sales in 2012, 2013 and 2014, or use the dropdown menu in the top right of this site. Sources: Manufacturers, ANDC, JATO Dynamics.
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