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.
The Renault Megane is about to be replaced by the new generation (pictured) and it shows in the performance of the outgoing model: down 9% (-24% in Q4) and giving up its 7th place to the Toyota Auris, which is stable thanks to its facelift. In the fourth quarter the Auris was up 17% and even outsold the Seat Leon. The Hyundai i30 also had an incredible Q4 with sales up a whopping 62% to go from -4% after the first three quarters to +10% for the year, even though its facelift was only minor.
Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off
The Kia Cee’d moves into the top-10 despite sales down 3% as the Skoda Rapid loses even more at -12%. That’s not even the worst performance in the top-25, as the Citroën C4 is down 18% perhaps partially from cannibalization by the C4 Cactus but also because the facelift was only minor and couldn’t hide the fact that this wasn’t a very exciting design in the first place. However, proving that exciting design isn’t everything, the Mazda3 plateaus at just under 50.000 sales at #13, although it remains the #2 best selling Japanese model behind the Auris and ahead of the Honda Civic and Nissan Pulsar. The latter is still a long way from Nissan’s goal of 64.000 annual sales, like I had predicted, but I still think being up there with established nameplates like the 3 and Civic is a pretty nice performance for an all-new model in its first full year.
Its EV-cousin Nissan Leaf is stable at just over 15.000 sales, which means it is not longer the best selling electric car in Europe, as the Renault Zoe has grabbed that title. Still, it’s double the Toyota Prius hybrid figures and part of the slowdown in the second half is due to customers waiting for the update in early 2016 which will give the Leaf 25% more battery capacity and thus more range.
We welcome the Fiat Tipo to the segment, it will be interesting to see if Fiat’s strategy of no longer trying to beat the Golf at its own game, but going for a different customer instead is going to pay off for the company. Newcomers in 2016 are as mentioned the Megane and updated Leaf, Fiat will add a hatchback and a station wagon to the Tipo sedan, Toyota will launch its new generation Prius (the one with the hideous styling), and Subaru will renew its Impreza, so except for the Megane, no real volume models will be launched, but the Astra and Megane should still help the segment to another year of small growth, albeit slower than the overall market again.
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