Comparison: car sales in France 1985 vs. 2014

With a little help and some inspiration from Daniel Carrer, I can make an interesting comparison between the car sales in France in 1985 and 2014. Although the French car market as a whole has barely grown in 29 years, a lot has happened in the brands ranking.

France-car_sales-1985-2014-Renault_Supercinq-Peugeot_205The top-3 is still the same, with the Big-3 French manufacturers holding on to their positions, even though Renault and Peugeot have lost quite a bit of market share: 9,08 and 3,67 percentage points respectively, not even counting Talbot in the 1985 figure. Citroën on the other hand is stable, when we include DS sales from 2015.

As a result, the market share of the local French brands has eroded from almost two thirds (63,53%) to under half of the total market (49,59%). Even when counting Renault’s Romanian sub-brand Dacia as local, the French have lost over 127.000 annual sales.… Continue Reading …

Review: Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

After publishing a few critical articles about hydrogen mobility on this site last year, both by myself and a guest author, most notably about the technology when compared to “traditional” Battery Electric Vehicles, I was given the chance to be among the first to drive a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle in Europe: the Hyundai ix35 FCEV. You would’ve seen the pictures yesterday if you followed me on Twitter. In the meantime, the technology has made progress and looks ever more promising, although there’s still a long way to go before hydrogen becomes a viable alternative to gasoline or diesel for a private car buyer.

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While Honda has had a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle available for lease in California since 2008, the FCX Clarity has never been able to reach mass production, with less than 100 cars delivered to customers. Other hydrogen test cars from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors never made it past the prototype phase. This makes Hyundai the first automaker to start mass production of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle, when it started production of 10.000 Hyundai ix35 FCEV early this year. The South-Koreans beat Toyota to the honor, as the Japanese brand only recently started taking orders for its Mirai FCEV.

Hyundai_ix35-Hydrogen-Fuel_Cell_Vehicle-badgeThis means the ix35 FCEV is a huge image booster for Hyundai, in the same way the Prius hybrid was for Toyota, helping the brand establish itself as a technology leader and a “green” automaker. Driving the car on public roads in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the ix35 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle has convinced me that the technology for this type of vehicle is indeed ready, which solves the chicken-or-egg problem with this new technology. … Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis February 2015 – models

After exploring the European car brand-ranking for February 2015, let’s look at sales of individual car models in Europe.

European-car-sales-statistics-subcompact-segment-2014-Ford_Fiesta-Renault_Clio-Volkswagen_PoloThe top-4 is stable on January, with Volkswagen stealing both first and second place, followed by the Renault Clio and Ford Fiesta. However, the Fiesta is likely to more than make up for its disadvantage next month, as March is traditionally the busiest month in the year for UK dealers, benefiting Ford and Vauxhall. From past experience, I expect the Fiesta to sell more than 40.000 units in March, which would help it leapfrog both the Clio and the Polo in the first quarter ranking.

In fifth place we find the Peugeot 208, which is the model’s highest ranking in exactly one year and allows the 208 to outsell the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa also for the first time since the same month last year. After showing a huge gain of almost 50% in January, the Corsa is actually down a little in February, despite being facelifted recently.

The Volkswagen Passat makes it three VWs in the top-10 (and 5 VW Group models), as it hits its highest ranking in 36 months with sales up by almost 66% on last year thanks to the new generation. We’ll have to be patient for the long-awaited battle between the Passat and the Ford Mondeo, as the new generation Mondeo hasn’t hit full steam yet. In fact, the Ford is selling at less than a third of the volume of the Passat in the first two months and is stuck in 73rd place. … Continue Reading …

Citroën beats up an SUV with a Cactus stick

Following the critical and commercial success of the C4 Cactus, Citroën figured it might as well try applying the same theme to a larger crossover and created the Aircross Concept.

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(Slightly) less polarizing then its smaller sibling, the Aircross features plenty of the design cues that make the Cactus stand out: Air Bump inserts, funky lights and wrap-around glasshouse on the outside, minimalist dashboard design with a separate screen instead of an instrument binnacle on the inside.

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European car sales analysis February 2015 – brands

volkswagen_group-sales-europe-february-2015European car buyers registered just over 952.000 new cars in February, an increase of 7,8% on February of 2014, and the highest growth rate in 11 months and a healthy sign the recovery of the European auto market is well and truly under way. This brings the 2015 year-to-date tally to over 1,97 million cars, up 5,5% on the first two months of last year.

Biggest winners in February were Volkswagen Group, Renault-Nissan and BMW AG, adding a combined 50.000 extra units compared to February of 2014. Volkswagen, Renault and Nissan added the most volume as single brands.

On the downside, General Motors still leads the way due to the withdrawal of Chevrolet, followed by Suzuki, which is eagerly awaiting the new Vitara while the new Celerio is slow to pick up steam, and Tata, whose three brands all lost volume on last year. At brand level, DS also lost a lot of ground in a drought of fresh product.… Continue Reading …

UPDATED: NY Auto Show – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The New York International Auto Show is finally under way, and here are our thoughts:

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Kriss: for me the good is the new Malibu, which I think looks amazing, even if the facia is a bit too busy and the engine line-up weird (a 1.5-liter turbo with only 160hp as a base engine in the US? even VW could not pull that off!)

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Bart: or me, the good is the Porsche Boxster Spyder. Basic, fast and less girly than a regular Boxster.

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How the Chinese and Indians successfully buy brands while the Americans fail

Volvo-Pirelli-Peugeot-Citroen-Chinese_DragonThe recent acquisition of Italy’s tire manufacturer Pirelli by the Chinese state-owned chemical company ChemChina is the latest in a string of Chinese and Indian investments in worldwide known European brands, not limited to the automotive industry. Do European countries and consumers have to worry about this phenomenon? Does this spell danger for our crown jewels and will the manufacturing jobs be moved to China or India, where labor is much cheaper? History proves us we should embrace the Asians as excellent caretakers of “our” brands, better than the Americans have been in the last few decades.

The Asians understand the value of a brand, because in their domestic markets there’s a huge difference in perception between local brands, which are considered low-value and can only compete on price, and foreign import brands, which are considered high-end and therefore are able to demand higher transaction prices, resulting in high profits.

The American way

As a result, when an Asian company takes over a Western brand, it will do anything to preserve the brand image, because that is what makes a brand valuable and leads to those higher profit margins. This view is contrasting with the way American companies used to handle their takeovers of European brands in the relatively near past.… Continue Reading …

Lincoln debuts Frankenstein new Continental

Lincoln surprised the motoring world today by showing off the new Continental. The first surprise is that, after years of producing bland-to-ugly cars (the MKT has forever seared itself into my retinas…) the concept is genuinely good looking, even if those with good memories will probably remain cool, seeing as the gorgeous 2002 Continental Concept paved the way for some unremarkable production cars.

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But the bigger surprise comes as you realize how Lincoln arrived at the new concept’s design, splicing design elements from other cars in a manner that Dr Frankenstein would be proud of.

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Unpopular opinion: Ford Mondeo

The latest Ford Mondeo / Fusion has received a lot of praise ever since it was launched, mainly because of its looks. Customers and punters alike seem to be falling over themselves in praising the Aston-esque grille and aggressive headlight treatment at the front, many claiming it’s one of the best looking in its class. I am not one of those people…

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Look-A-Like: Jag XF and… (part 2)

“Look-A-Like” is a new column which is meant as a lighthearted account of all those “I feel like I’ve seen this before…” moments. The first post was about how the interior of the new Jag XF reminded me of the interior of a mass-market compact sedan. Not that I’m picking on the new Jaguar sedan (which I think actually looks good and will probably sell very well), but there was just something about its rear lights that reminded me of another car first and foremost, rather than of the F-type after which they were actually modeled.2016-Jaguar-XF-33Continue Reading …