Driving in Africa: the taxis of Morocco

This is part 2 in the series of articles on the North-African automotive landscape and my experience driving there. Part 1 was about getting a rental car in Morocco.

Taxi_stand-Agadir-Morocco-Peugeot_205-Mercedes_240dWhen stepping outside of a Moroccan airport, one of the first things you’ll notice is the long line of Mercedes-Benz taxis. Not the contemporary version, but almost all the W123 model from the 1970s and to a lesser extent the W124 model from the 1980s. I initially thought that this had something to do with them being specific airport taxis, but I would later discover that the streets all over Morocco are flooded with these smoky old diesels, which aren’t granted a well-deserved quiet retirement after a tough initial life in Europe. Rather, they are abused harder than ever, and maintenance in Morocco means that they fix a car when it breaks down.

Petit taxis

Taxi_stand-Agadir-Morocco-Peugeot_205-Mercedes_240dThere are two types of taxis in Morocco: mini taxis (Petit taxi) and Grand taxis. The mini taxis take you within city limits to your destination for a fixed price of about 80 cents per ride, or 1.20 Euros at night. … Continue Reading …

Will the Range Rover Evoque Convertible be a success?

Range_Rover-Evoque-Convertible-ScoopIt’s been almost three years since Land Rover showed the Range Rover Evoque Convertible Concept at the 2012 Geneva Autoshow, and despite the fact that the concept looked very production-ready and roadworthy, Land Rover claimed they weren’t planning to take it into production. But rumors kept surfacing about production plans for the droptop Evoque, and earlier this week, spy shots were published of a camouflaged Evoque soft top being tested on public roads. From the pictures you can see the production version looks very similar to the concept, with the rear quarter reminding somewhat of the Audi A3 convertible, despite being higher on its wheels.

This won’t be the worlds first-ever luxury SUV-convertible crossover, as the world (or at least North America) has already seen the hugely unsuccessful Nissan Murano Crosscabriolet brought to the market, which looked even more strange than the Evoque. And there have been numerous “utility” SUV convertibles,… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis November 2014 – models

After discussing the November 2014 brands ranking, we will take a deeper look into which car models are selling well in the last quarter of 2014.

European-car-sales-november-2014-VW_Polo-Renault_Clio-Ford_Fiesta

Photo credit: Auto Zeitung

Behind the Volkswagen Golf, which racks up more than double the amount of sales of its nearest non-VW competitor, the Volkswagen Polo manages a second straight month in second place, as the Ford Fiesta suffers a particularly weak month, down 4.600 units on last year and down another spot into fourth as the Renault Clio passes it again.

Another impressive performance by the Skoda Octavia, in 6th place for the fourth time this year and twice in a row, compared to a 9th place year-to-date. The record ranking for the Czech compact sedan and station wagon remains the 5th place it October 2013.

Equally impressive is the 7th place for the Nissan Qashqai, also not a record for the model, but its 15.000+ sales mean that the British-build crossover is likely to finish 2014 above 200.000 sales for the fifth year in a row, despite the shift to the new generation this year.… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis November 2014 – brands

After rising 6,3% in October, European car sales are up again in November 2014, for the 15th straight month, although with 984.578 units the growth rate has slowed to just 0,27%, the lowest this year, bringing down the year-to-date growth to 5,6% at close to 12 million units, which means 2014 is likely to finish at around 12,9 to 13 million sales, up 5 to 5,5 percent on 2013. However, I expect 2015 to be another difficult year with modest to no growth at all. And the slow recovery means the European car market is still a long way from pre-recession figures of around 15 million per year.

European-car-sales-ranking-november-2014-Jeep-Renegade-CherokeeBut some brands are growing much faster than others, as Jeep has more than doubled its November sales (up 133%), thanks to the addition of the small crossover Renegade and the continued success of the Grand Cherokee and the still very fresh Cherokee midsized crossover. MG Nanjing, the most successful Chinese manufacturer to date, despite being only present in the UK, continues its strong performance at +126,7%. And the third fastest growing brand is the Italian luxury automaker Maserati, which is enjoying a record year thanks to the successful Ghibli large premium sedan and its optional diesel engines.

In absolute figures, Nissan has added the most sales in November, gaining 6.363 units thanks to the new generations Qashqai and X-Trail and the addition of the Pulsar compact hatchback. Volkswagen and Seat follow suit, also thanks to their compact models Golf and Leon.… Continue Reading …

Driving in Africa: getting a rental car

As you’ve noticed, there haven’t been any new posts for the last two weeks, as I have been traveling. In the next couple of days/weeks, I’ll post some stories about my experience with driving in Morocco. I’ll start at the beginning: getting our rental car.

We arrive at Casablanca airport and after customs and security checks, we head straight for the car rental desks. On our way down there, a local man approaches us, asking if we’re looking for the cheapest car rental.

Morocco-Casablanca-airport-rental-desk-guidesOne thing you should know when traveling to Morocco, is that there’s a kind of black-market referral system in place, which involves mostly unemployed men who act as self-proclaimed guides to take tourists to shops, restaurants and hotels, and then take a large commission on the amount the tourist spends there. This causes two very annoying problems: the tourist is likely to be overcharged with at least the amount of the commission and besides that, the guides can be extremely harassive. … Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis October 2014 – models

After discussing the October 2014 brands ranking, we will take a deeper look into which car models are selling well in the last quarter of 2014.

auto-sales-statistics-Europe-october-2014-Volkswagen_GolfAs usual, the big events happen below the first place, where the VW Golf remains firmly into its pedestal, and just to put its sales figures in perspective: Volkswagen has sold almost as many units of the Golf by itself, as Toyota sells of all its models combined in Europe. With the introduction of the e-Golf pure electric car and the Plug-in Hybrid Golf GTE, the Golf offers the broadest selection of powertrains of all models, with gasoline, diesel, CNG (natural gas), electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains available.

As expected after its excellent performance in September, the Ford Fiesta is pushed down into fourth place by the recently facelifted Volkswagen Polo and the Renault Clio. The fourth subcompact car in a row is the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, which is up a healthy 22,8% on sell-out pricing of the current generation, as the facelifted version has already been introduced. The Corsa’s larger sibling Astra fares much worse, and has fallen to a record-low 17th place and has been passed by the Fiat 500 year-to-date.… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis October 2014 – brands

 

Car sales in Europe have shown year-over-year growth for the 14th consecutive month in October, and with an increase of 6,3% to 1.110.857 sales, the growth rate seems to increase as well. The year-to-date growth of the car market after 10 months stands at 6,1% with almost 11 million units.

Auto-sales-statistics-Europe-October-2014-Hyundai-KiaThe manufacturers to add the most sales in October, and year-to-date are still the Volkswagen Group and Renault-Nissan, each helped by strong sales of all of their volume brands, with no exception. Interestingly in third place for adding the most volume last month is Hyundai-Kia, with the gains evenly spread between the two brands. Thanks to a strong month of October, the Hyundai brand is now in positive territory year-to-date for the first time in 2014.

General Motors continues to struggle as the 95% drop in Chevrolet sales isn’t offset by the impressive gains of Opel/Vauxhall in October. Toyota Motor Corporation is also down for the third time in 10 months, but still in the black year-to-date. Tata Motors is down slightly as a small increase of Jaguar sales couldn’t make up for the loss at Land Rover.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2014 January – September EV and PHEV segment

From now on I will also have PHEV sales in Europe available, every quarter. These sales will be published separately from EV sales. Since the BMW i3 is available with an optional range extending internal combustion engine, and most buyers opt for the more expensive PHEV version instead of for the full-EV version, the i3 will be featured in the PHEV ranking.

Volkswagen-e_Golf-e_Up-EV-sales-EuropeSales of full electric cars in Europe continue their impressive increase, up 50% on the first nine months of 2013, as new models are introduced onto the market. The arrival of the Volkswagen e-Up! and e-Golf haven’t hurt sales of the existing top-3 players, as those models continue to grow as well. With more EVs from several brands available on the market, awareness and acceptance of Zero Emission vehicles will rise, helping the segment as a whole.

The Nissan Leaf grows almost as fast as the market, with sales up 47% on last year, which already was a record year both for the Leaf and for any EV. In September, the Leaf broke the 2.000 monthly units threshold for the first time ever, underscoring the increasing interest in the car. … Continue Reading …

Renault to sell its 50.000th EV in Europe this year

As the Renault-Nissan alliance celebrates a combined tally of 200.000 Zero Emission vehicles worldwide, the Renault brand has something to celebrate all by itself in Europe before the end of the year. Total sales of its four-vehicle lineup of full-electric vehicles have added up to 48.471 units by the end of October 2014. The French brand sold 1.971 Zero Emission vehicles in October, so there’s a good chance the 50.000-unit threshold will be broken in November.

Renault-EV-sales-Europe-Twizy-Zoe-Fluence-KangooThe Zoe subcompact, Kangoo Cargo Van and Twizy quadricycle have sold in virtually equal numbers, each taking almost one third of the cumulative volume, while the Fluence compact sedan has been much less successful, taking less than five percent of the brand’s cumulative Zero Emission sales. That’s not very surprising, considering the Fluence didn’t have a quick-charge option and therefore takes up to eight hours to recharge. Besides that, a compact sedan isn’t a very popular body style in Europe, and its bland design hasn’t helped either. The Zoe has been the latest to reach the market and has been the strongest selling model of the lineup, contributing to over half of this year’s Zero Emission sales for Renault.

In contrast to its Alliance partner Nissan, which sells its Leaf compact hatchback in other continents as well, mainly North America and Japan, Renault’s EV sales are almost entirely limited to Europe. … Continue Reading …

European sales 2014 January – September exotic and sports car segments

 

European-car-sales-statistics-exotic_car-segment-2014-BMW_i8-Ferrari_458_Italia-Audi_R8-Lamborghini_AventadorThe exotic car segment is up an encouraging 8% after the first nine months of 2014, thanks to an excellent third quarter, as total segment sales were down after the first half. This recovery is entirely due to the incredibly successful launch of the BMW i8, BMW’s new electric sports car with gasoline range extender. I had already predicted that the i8 would lead the segment in 2015, but in fact it already was the best selling exotic car on the market in the third quarter of this year, enabling it to shoot up into third place year-to-date. What a remarkable performance of such a groundbreaking new vehicle!

The Bentley Continental GT has overtaken the Ferrari 458 Italia to take back its leadership of the segment in the third quarter. These two models combined account for almost half of all exotic car sales in Europe, making you think whether they still classify as exotics.… Continue Reading …