Comparison: car sales in Germany 1985 vs. 2014

A few months ago, I posted an article comparing French car sales in 1985 and 2014. I noticed it was a very popular article, so I’ll try to find some more countries to find the data from about 30 years back. The first one on the list, and again thanks to Daniel Carrer, is Germany.

German-car-sales-1985-2014-Volkswagen_Golf_2-Opel_Kadett_E

Photo credit: AutoBild

While the overall market in France hasn’t grown much in those 29 years, car sales in Germany have increased by more than a quarter, from less than 2,4 million in 1985 to more than 3 million in 2014. Much of that growth can be attributed to import brands, as sales of German brands have increased by only 145.000 units in that period. That means their market share has shrunk from a whopping 72,7% to an only slightly more modest 62%. This excludes brands that now belong to a German group, but which aren’t officially German. If we include Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Mini and Smart, the Germans still control almost 72% of their home turf.

But with Skoda adding over 170.000 annual sales and 5,6 points of share and Seat another 90.000 sales and 2,9 points of share, there are bound to be losers among the local brands, and the biggest loser of the bunch is without a doubt GM’s German unit Opel. While Volkswagen has held on to the #1 spot thanks to 100.000 additional sales, Opel has plunged from its second place in 1985 to fifth place last year, losing almost 150.000 sales and no less than half of its market share in the process.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis June 2015

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Haval_H1-SUVThe Chinese car market remains as buoyant and dynamic as ever, even when it finishes June 2015 as the first month of monthly declines since early 2009, as just over 1,4 million locally produced vehicles were sold in China, down 0,87% on last June. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate (SAAR) dipped below last year’s total at 17,9 million units. As has become usual for China (and for the US and Europe as well, for that matter), sales of SUVs and crossovers bucked the negative trend, as sales of this segment surged 38% to almost 450.000 units, while sedans were down 15% to less than 850.000 sales and MPVs were down 1% to 125.000 units. Overall sales, including import models, were down 3% to 1,51 million units.

To underscore the volatility of the Chinese auto market, of the 370 models that were sold in June, almost a quarter (91 nameplates) recorded their lowest volume of the year, and half of those (46 nameplates) even recorded their lowest volume ever. And even more worryingly for those brands, this includes models that have been introduced as recently as last year, for example the Dongfeng Fengdu MX6, Fengshan L60, and Joyear SUV, Haval H1 and H9, Kia KX3, MG GT, Peugeot 308S, Suzuki Alivio, Venucia R30 and Yema F16. To balance that, 58 nameplates had their best month of the year in June, of which half (29 models) had their best sales ever, including a handful of recent launches.

Hyundai-Kia

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Kia_KX3-SUVThe South-Korean manufacturers had a month to quickly forget, with Hyundai sales down 30% and Kia down 26,5%. The Hyundai Verna, Elantra Langdon and ix35 had their worst month of the year, and the Elantra Yuedong even had its worst sales ever. For Kia, the Sportage had its slowest selling month of the year, but more worryingly, the Forte, K3, K4, K5 and the recently launched KX3 small SUV had record low sales.… Continue Reading …

Why competition is a good thing

So, we’ve recently talked about how competition keeps the automotive industry alive. Now let’s talk about how government intervention in competition also keeps the industry alive, but at a cost to the consumer. I’m talking about the infamous “chicken-tax”, the 25% import duty the US government charges on every imported light truck (including commercial van or pick-up trucks) that reaches American shores.

Chevrolet_Silverado-cashIt is called the chicken-tax, because it was introduced in 1963 by President Lyndon B. Johnson as a childish response to tariffs placed by France and Western Germany on imported US poultry. So it has been around for more than 50 years and during those decades it has brought North American manufacturers of pick-up trucks a windfall of profits, all at the expense of the American consumer. Because the biggest victim of these tariffs aren’t the foreign automakers, but the domestic truck buyers.

This import duty has caused the American pick-up market to become an isolated market, controlled for 85% by just three automakers: General Motors, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, with pick-ups that are barely exported to other parts of the world, but which deliver huge margins of more than $10.000,- per truck sold (or, as the Automotive News reporter calculates: roughly the median household income in Greece). Compare that to the compact and midsized sedan market, where the Japanese have been kicking the domestic manufacturer’s butts for decades and the Koreans have joined the party a few years ago. Especially the midsized sedan segment, where the Toyota Camry is king, followed by the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, is a fiercely competitive segment, where few automakers actually turn a profit. … Continue Reading …

Automotive mergers: necessary, welcome or a threat?

Sergio-Marchionne-Chrysler-FiatLet’s talk about automotive mergers again, because Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, keeps going on about them being necessary to achieve the economies of scale needed for automakers in the current, highly competitive marketplace, and in order to spread the cost of investments in fuel efficiency, connectivity, autonomous driving and electrification. Okay, in all honesty, Sergio isn’t the only one saying it’s becoming “too expensive to make cars”, but he is the most outspoken one on the subject and he keeps flirting with other automakers to merge, most notably General Motors, so he’s an easy target for my rants.

And to a certain degree I can relate with him. Like he says, it doesn’t make any sense at all for every single automaker to develop -for example- hydrogen fuel cell technology in-house, so each of them has to “invent the wheel” by all themselves. Of course it would save tons of money for the automakers, and therefore for new car buyers, if development costs of a new technology could be spread among a cooperation of automakers, but guess what? This already happens a lot without any of them having to actually merge. Besides that, a lot of technologies in vehicle safety or fuel efficiency already get developed by suppliers, like Bosch, Magna or Denso, who then sell a license to the technology to a number of automakers, and thus spreading the development costs.… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis May 2015 – models

After exploring the May 2015 auto brands sales, we’ll take a closer look at the most successful car models in Europe.Models ranking April 2015. The market leaders are surprisingly stable, with the only change in the top-7 done by the facelifted Ford Focus overtaking the Nissan Qashqai. The Renault Clio is down from its high last month, but still in a comfortable third place, although as the months pass it will become more and more difficult to challenge the ageing Ford Fiesta for its traditional #2 spot by the end of the year.

Volkswagen-Passat-new_generation-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeThe fastest gaining model in the top-10 is the new generation Volkswagen Passat, clear leader of the midsize segment, with its closest mainstream rival the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia at #43 and the all-new Ford Mondeo up 75% but from such a low base that it’s still only in 54th place. In the premium midsized segment, the soon-to-be-replaced Audi A4 at #29 is actually threatening the 28th ranked BMW 3-series thanks to huge sell-out discounts and perhaps because nobody will notice you’re driving the old one since it looks exactly the same…..

The new generation Skoda Fabia enjoys a second straight in the top-20 and ahead of the Toyota Yaris, which outsold it by 8.000 units in March, while the new Mini at #24 more than doubles its sales from last year’s may.… Continue Reading …

Citroën C5 may become China-only, but what about an SUV?

At around the same time Renault introduced the (in my opinion) strikingly handsome and very promising Talisman four-door sedan to replace its struggling Laguna midsized hatchback and station wagon, Citroën CEO Linda Jackson announced that the next generation of its midsized car the C5 will be produced in China and is unlikely to be exported to other parts of the world, including Europe.

Citroen-C5-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeAccording to Jackson, “In China there is clearly a requirement for a C5 segment car, and that is clearly going to be within our product plan. But we need to ask ourselves: Is there opportunity in other regions? I don’t know the answer to that.” That makes perfect sense, considering the company sold just 18.000 units of the model in Europe last year, down from a peak of 145.000 in 2002 with the previous model. Until May, sales are down another 28% this year. Contrastingly, the C5 sold 33.000 units in China last year, where it’s produced since 2010 at the joint venture plant with Dongfeng Motor in Wuhan. 2015 sales are down 22% until May. Jackson didn’t indicate when China sales of the new C5 would start. The current model was introduced in 2008.

What’s clearly missing from this picture is that Citroën should be focusing on finally getting a proper SUV in its line-up, because that’s the way the market is heading right now. The midsized segment is in deep crisis in Europe, and Chinese preferences are shifting from sedans to SUVs at an amazing pace.… Continue Reading …

New models added to European car sales data!

We’ve been able to find more detailed European car sales data for several models, which have now been added to the car sales search tool in the top right corner of this website. This is data you might not find anywhere else on the internet, so make sure you check it out if you’re interested!

Historical data has been added for the following models:

  • Alpina B3 and D3, the sporty models based on the BMW 3-series. We even have separate data for the gasoline and diesel versions.
  • Aston Martin Virage, only produced in 2011 and 2012 for a production total of just over 1.000 units, almost half of which were registered in Europe
  • Aston Martin Cygnet, the minicar based on the Toyota IQ, produced for just 3 years, between 2011 and 2013.
  • McLaren-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeMcLaren MP4-12C and its replacement McLaren 650S, the British Ferrari 458-challengers. Sales are still just a fraction of their Italian rival.
  • DR CityCross, a rebadged Chinese Chery Riich X1, assembled and sold in Italy by DR Motor of Massimo Di Risio.
  • Mahindra XUV500, the Indian large SUV which is sold in just a handful of European countries.

And we’ve added a few new models to our database that have been around for a while, but weren’t yet available in our search tool:… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis May 2015 – brands

European-car-sales-analysis-May-2015Growth of passenger car sales in Europe has stalled in May 2015, with just a 1,3% increase over the same month last year, at 1,142 million cars sold. As a result, the year-to-date improvement has shrunk to 6,53% at almost 6 million sales. Is this month a temporary glitch in the 22 month-long recovery or does it signal an underlying weakness in the European car market? We’ll have to see next month. Spain and Italy showed strong gains of 14% and 10,8% respectively, and the UK continued its impressive performance at +2,4%. However, French car sales were down 3,5% and in Germany 6,7% fewer cars were sold in May. Year-to-date figures for these five largest markets are still positive, though.

Renault-Nissan benefit the most again, adding just under 10.000 sales, while both premium manufacturers Daimler AG and BMW Group followed suit at almost 7.500 and 5.900 extra sales respectively. Surprisingly, after being among the biggest contributors to Europe’s recovery, Volkswagen Group is suddenly among the biggest losers, with a minus of just over 5.000 units, a figure only “beaten” by PSA at -7.000 sales. As becoming usual, General Motors is in the negative top-3 at -4.500 units.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis May 2015

The cool-down of the Chinese auto market continues in May, with an increase of just 1,2% for the total market and 4% for locally produced cars, for a total of just over 1,5 million sales. Year-to-date, 8,6 million vehicles have been sold in China, of which 500.000 imports (not included in the figures below) and 8,1 million locally produced models. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate (SAAR) for locally produced cars is up to 19,4 million units, from 19,1 million last month. May 2015 had 2 fewer sales days than the same month last year, which explains some of the decline.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Volkswagen_Lamando-sedanThe shift towards SUVs and crossovers keeps becoming more apparent, as sales of sedan models were down 10% to just over 900,000 vehicles, while sales of SUVs were up a whopping 44% to almost 460.000 units. MPV sales were up 8% to 140.000 units. The slowdown occurred despite several brands cutting prices of across their line-up, most notably General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford and Hyundai. Despite these cuts, GM saw flat sales at Buick and a decline of 24% at Chevrolet, while Ford was down 8,7% and Hyundai slipped 12%. Volkswagen was also down 12%, as the brand is hurt by its failure to respond quickly to changing consumer preferences, offering just a line-up full of sedans but just one locally produced SUV, while Chinese automakers are launching a handful of new, low-priced SUVs every month.

Even premium brands were not immune to the downward trend in Chinese car sales. … Continue Reading …

The end of the 3-door compact hatchback?

Compact-hatchback-3_door-Ford_EscortLet me take you back to some childhood memories: if you’re born in Europe, it’s very likely that your parents had a compact 3-door hatchback to haul you (and potentially your siblings) around in the backseat. In order to reach that backseat, one of the front seats had to be folded forward, giving you just enough space between the seat-back and the B-pillar to dive in. This also meant it was virtually impossible for adults to get in there, making the back seat your own little territory.

Then later, when you reached puberty and you got to borrow you parent’s car to go to clubbing with your friends, getting into the back brought glorious entertainment to all bystanders, even before anybody was drunk. Compact-hatchback-3_door-entrance-backseatThen on the way back, when one of the backseat passengers started to feel sick and the car needed to pull over, not having rear doors could mean you’d spend the rest of the way back in a sickening smell and you’d be cleaning the car interior for a few hours. Or when you started to get interested in girls and you’d get one warmed up for some backseat fun with you, stumbling into the back via that small opening could easily lead to a cooling of the mood before you even got in there together.

Well okay, not all of these memories may apply to you, but nevertheless it’s becoming ever less likely that our offspring will have similar character-building experiences, as it suddenly occurred to me that the compact hatchback is virtually dead. … Continue Reading …