The European midsized car segment is the fastest declining segment in the market, contracting 8% in 2014 to the lowest figure ever and down more than 50% on as recent as 2007. Only four out of 21 models managed to increase year-over-year sales, and if the fact that the top-3 models now account for over 55% of segment sales isn’t enough as a sign of the segment’s defragmentation, no less than 7 nameplates are either already out of production or will be pulled from the market without a replacement soon: Honda Accord, Opel/Vauxhall Ampera, Renault Latitude, Chevrolet Malibu, Suzuki Kizashi, Seat Exeo and Chevrolet Volt.
That doesn’t mean the segment is officially dead, as there are also 8 new or facelifted models due in showrooms this year, while the new generations Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo have just started customer deliveries. As a result, the midsize segment should be able to return to growth in 2015, making it the second time to do so since 2001.
Undoubtedly the new Passat will keep control of the number one spot in the segment, helped by the GTE plug-in hybrid version and its traditional popularity among account managers, while the Ford Mondeo should be able to ease back into second spot as production of the new model has finally started. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Passat and Mondeo combined take more than 50% of all sales in the midsized segment in 2015.
The Opel/Vauxhall Insignia is the fastest growing model of the segment, adding 15.500 units thanks to its new generation and aging competitors, as the Peugeot 508 is the biggest loser at -14.500 sales. With the facelifted 508 in showrooms, Peugeot should be able to slow the decline, but I don’t see it return to a podium finish anytime soon, especially with a new generation Skoda Superb ready to rock ‘n roll at the end of the year.
The Hyundai i40 will get a facelift in the first quarter, and the DS5 will receive some minor design updates and new engines in the second quarter, while Subaru will launch a new generation Outback in Europe around the same time. Then in Q3, Kia will replace the Optima and Renault will have its new model ready, which is likely to ditch the unfortunate Laguna name. It will be based on the same platform as the Kadjar midized crossover and Espace large MPV, which both will precede it, and the new Megane and Scenic due to arrive in 2016.
Toyota is expected to sell the Mirai Fuel Cell vehicle in Europe in the second half of the year, although in limited numbers, while there’s still no sign of a replacement to the aging Avensis. The Japanese brand has hinted that sales of its midsized car simply don’t justify the development of another Europe-only model, as Honda also discovered, and it’s working on a hybrid-only sedan to slot between the Corolla/Auris and the Camry for worldwide markets. But that car isn’t likely to reach European showrooms anytime soon.
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