Predictions for 2017: Europe

Looking ahead, even one year, can be very tricky. Last year we correctly predicted that Mercedes-Benz had a shot at reclaiming its luxury crown, and it has overperformed. We also said the Jaguar F-Pace would be off to a great start, and that too has materialized nicely: having been launched in Q2 of 2016, Jaguar’s first crossover has outsold the Porsche Macan and BMW X4 in the second half of the year and has outsold the Lexus NX for full-year sales, grabbing a segment 7th place in H2, which is similar to the XE and not bad for a brand’s first entry into a segment that has very strong competition not only from new launches but also from surprisingly consistent old-timers.

Infiniti_Q30-QX30-sales-disappointment-Europe-2016In terms of expected disappointments, we predicted Ford would lose its #2 position in the brand ranking, and that happened in November when Renault stormed past in the YTD ranking. We also said Dacia would lose volume in 2016, but that didn’t materialize as expected. The French-Romanian brand has shown remarkable resilience as four out of its five models improved volume in 2016, despite no big new product launches, just minor updates. An impressive performance! Lastly, we doubted Infiniti’s ambitious targets for the Q30 and QX30, and although the latter is still in start-up mode, it’s safe to say the Q30 hasn’t really taken off as its parent had hoped it would. Sure, around 9.000 sales (8.391 through November) is by far the best any Infiniti model has ever sold in Europe (the next best being the Q50’s 2015 figure of just over 3.000 units), but it’s not even close to the European target of 30.000 annual sales for the two models combined.

Now, what do we expect from 2017?

1. Peugeot 3008: success

Peugeot_3008-2017-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeIn my post on the success stories of 2016 I mentioned the VW Tiguan may challenge the Nissan Qashqai for leadership in the midsized SUV segment, but another challenger for the segment podium has stood up: the second generation Peugeot 3008, which has just been launched. As opposed to the first generation, which was a weirdly styled MPV, the new 3008 is a true crossover. More importantly, it looks arguably handsome both outside and inside, as the French brand has designed probably the best interior it has ever made. The model is priced right and the timing of its launch is great as the current 308 is entering its fourth year of sales, giving early adopting brand loyalists a nice opportunity to move up to their favorite brand’s hottest new thing. If its November sales are an indication of what’s to come, a top-3 position in the segment isn’t all that out-of-this world to expect. November was the 3008 nameplate’s second best month ever, after March 2012 and it already outsold the Kia Sportage and came close to the Renault Kadjar. A very impressive start indeed, and a model to watch in 2017.

2. Suzuki: sucess

Suzuki_Ignis-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeThe small Japanese brand has launched a few promising new models in 2016 and ended last year on a high. Specializing in small cars and compact crossovers and unsuccessful in larger segments, Suzuki has doubled down on its strengths last year, now offering intrabrand alternatives in its most important segments. We already had the Vitara and the slightly larger but similartly priced S-Cross in the compact crossover segment. Now in the minicar segment, the spacious but utterly uninspiring Celerio has been given a funky sibling with the new Ignis to attract the younger crowd. And in the subcompact segment, the Baleno now also offers a roomy and practical alternative to the sporty Swift. The Swift has traditionally been the brand’s best seller until the Vitara took over in 2016, but a new generation Swift will arrive in 2017, and together with the still fresh Baleno and Ignis that should give Suzuki a nice boost to top 200.000 sales in Europe for the first time since 2009.

3. Mazda: disappointment

Some would argue that Mazda is a consistent disappointment in terms of sales volume, both in Europe and the US, simply because the small Japanese brand makes excellent cars of which too few people know how good they really are and which deserve many more buyers than they currently get. They also deserve my sympathy for not having followed the downsizing trend from which most manufacturers are already backtracking now.

2017-Mazda-CX_52016 was the fourth consecutive year of growth for Mazda in Europe, and the first time since 2008 that market share topped 1,5% (up from below 1% in 2011 and 2012), boosted by new product launches of the Mazda2 subcompact and the CX-3 small crossover. The latter has quickly become the brand’s second best model, not far behind the CX-5. In 2017, the only news is the revamped CX-5 compact crossover, but that nameplate has remained very consistent in the last 4 years and the new generation isn’t all that revolutionary in terms of styling, so I don’t expect that model to suddenly pick up a huge chunk of share. Meanwhile, the Mazda3 and Mazda6 won’t bring anything new, but also have been relatively stable in recent years, and the low-volume MX-5 is feeling cannibalization from the Fiat 124 Spider. With not much real news, I think Mazda will have to face shrinking sales and market share in 2017. And that would be a disappointment for the sympathetic brand.

What are your predictions for 2017? Which brand or model do you expect to surprise or disappoint this year? Let me know in the comments below.

Also find our 2017 predictions for the Chinese car market.

  1. New Ford Fiesta, VW Polo will be hits.
    Audi Q5 will be bestseller in SUVs segment and Seat Arona will be popular small crossover.

    1. Polo for sure will be a hit. Especially when it’s German rival Corsa is not very strong with the new generation.

      Fiesta – I don’t think so. first impressions, even from GB are moderate. The design of the car is more “international”, as it was with Mondeo (also not a hit) and Ecosport (a failure in my opinion). The current Fiesta was a great success, so the “bar” is high for that model.

      1. Mondeo not a hit? lol 😀 Mondeo is one of the most popular cars in D segment worldwide. If yor’re looking “not a hit” – we have Renault Talisman…

      2. New Mondeo is clearly not a hit. Loosing ground every month. This year every month is worse than last years. 2016 sales will be around 70k, last year it was 80k. Previous generation was much above 100k!

        Besides new Model, Mondeo is 4th in the segment. Last months just slightly better than Talisman you mentioned (not present in UK). Loosing to very old Insignia.

        And if you have in mind that this is typical “corporate sales” model… then it is obvious that New Mondeo is not meeting expectations.

        And its interior quality is much worse than previous. And a build quality is crappy. Read some tests!

  2. Other than struggling Citroen, French manufacturers are getting more competitive than ever before. I anticipate they will grab some market share from German competitors.

    Opel’s product lineup is also expanding with new models. They can keep their good pace in 2017.

    I hope Alfa Romeo will get desperately needed sales numbers with Gilulia and Stelvio.

    1. The politics of Citroen are super-weird. Noone knows what they are heading to. But they will launch small crossover (cannibalising Cactus?) and maybe new C4 (most likely a clone of 3008).

      AR makes very good, drivers oriented cars but… the German Premium is loved around the continent 🙂

  3. Mazda makes cars with lot of hype, a car for “enjoy”, for “real drivers”, for “enthusiastic”…. oh, my god, a CX-3, CX-5, a 120 hp Mazda 3…. ¿for fanatics?… I can’t understand this.

    The reality is that they are not so practical, not so cheap for the real quality, less comfortable than most of the people wants, and yes, they use NA engines, but with a extremely long gearbox, the performance at mid range in top gears is very, very poor, not all the people wants to revs up the engine again and again in a daily use looking for some acceleration.

    And at the end, the consumers look, compare and buy the best car for each one and this isn’t a Mazda y almost all the times. And in my opinion, they are right.

  4. Nice predictions Bart. I shall ask you for the lottery numbers 😉

    It would be weird when Opel and Renault won’t have a great 2017 with interesting new cars and consistent volume models. Some of them entering their first full year.

    On the other hand, I predict Ford and Seat will struggle. Of course the Americans just launched a new Fiesta, but the competition in the subcompact segment is tough (C3, Clio FL, Micra, new Rio, upcoming Polo) and the 7th generation isn’t new enough. So I don’t see the Fiesta .
    Seat relies too much on Spain, the average European prefers other (non-European) brands. In addition, the ongoing internal competition with Skoda and VW doesn’t benefit this redundant VAG brand either. Ateca is boring and no contest for his brothers Kodiaq/Tiguan and Qashqai, Kadjar or Tucson. New Ibiza to the rescue? No way! Never been a bestseller in its class.

  5. Some little remarks:

    Dacia really is an amazing story. Even though the models are at the end of their lifecycle they sell like hot cakes in Fr, Belgium, Spain and Italy.
    Infiniti Q30 must have a problem i/t UK among badge conscious (A3/Bimmer1) sales reps / young bankers. FR and IT buy more Q30’s than England, the country where the Q30 is produced! Normally the Brits are very chauvinistic when it comes to home cooked automobiles, reflected in high volumes for Ford but also foreign brand Nissan.

    Peugeot: Been a Peu / PininFarina fan since my youngest years. But the 3008 and 5008 look slightly unwieldy, not cohesive. But look: In Sochaux they received 40k orders already and hired extra hands to produce more thab planned.

    The new Mazda CX-5 is a great looking SUV. If you compare the old and new version it feels like a crash course car design. Very interesting modifications. Seemingly small alterations have a surprising effect!

  6. My predictions are that Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep will also be a success in 2017.
    New Stelvio, first full year of Giulia sales. It’s impossible for Alfa to do worse than what it did this year.
    Fiat will have the first full year of all Tipo variations for sale and will introduce a 500L facelift.
    Jeep will introduce the new Compass so they’ll sell more than in 2016.

    I think BMW will be a success because they introduced the new 5-series and 3-series will be introduced next year.
    Honda will continue to see their sales rise because of the new Civic which is a lot better than the old one, plus the new CR-V.

  7. Where’s the replacements for the Fiat Punto, Opel Antara, Mitsubishi ASX and Kia Soul?

    Hopefully the new Nissan Micra does better than the Note and Pulsar.

  8. To me Mazda is the king of disappointment. Can’t speak for sales in Europe, but here in the States they struggle big time despite making attractive, well equipped cars. I own a 14′ Mazda 6 which is stylish, has a bevy of safety features, great mileage, but is hell on ingress and egress. So comfort is down the list. The recent changes to the 3 and 6 were minor and there sales are way down. The new CX-5 as you note looks almost identical to its predecessor so I don’t see any big sales jump. Of course, their huge mistake is burying the best thing they have in China. (CX-4) This styling knockout could sell both as a luxury hatch (several inches lower than a standard SUV) and an SUV, Mazda doesn’t think the rest of the world needs it. Better to just watch their sales nosedive in the USA and Europe.

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