Demand for Lagonda Taraf and why Porsche canned the 989 four-door

To no-one’s surprise the Lagonda (ok, Aston Martin) Taraf will be sold in the UK, Europe, and not just in the Middle East as the company originally planned. This makes me wonder why did Aston Martin not make this car in the first place, rather than the unloved, too-small Rapide?… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis January 2015 – models

After exploring the European car brand-ranking for January 2015, let’s look at which models are making waves.

Opel-Vauxhall-Corsa-facelift-2015Volkswagen still dominates the first and second place with the Golf and Polo, while the Ford Fiesta is knocked off the podium by the Renault Clio. The comeback of the facelifted Opel/Vauxhall Corsa keeps the Nissan Qashqai from equaling the crossover’s best-ever fifth place it achieved in February and March 2013.

 

The Toyota Yaris makes it two Europe-built Japanese models in the top-10, equaling the current generation’s best ranking it already achieved in March and September 2012. European-auto-sales-statistics-2014-full-year-Toyota_YarisThe success of the Yaris keeps Toyota just ahead of Nissan in the brands ranking, as the gap has closed from 13.500 units in January 2014 to just over 3.000 units this year. … Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis January 2015 – brands

Jeep-Renegade-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeNew car sales in Europe continue to crawl out of the deep trough slowly but steadily. An increase of 3,4% makes January 2015 the 13th consecutive year-over-year increase, bringing car sales back just above 2012 levels, but still a long way from pre-crisis levels. The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Selling Rate comes in at 12,8 million units, which would make 2015 the best year since 2011, when 14,1 million cars were sold in the continent.

Volkswagen Group is still ultra-dominant, as one in four new cars sold in Europe carry a Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda or Seat logo, but Renault-Nissan is quickly gaining ground, at +14,3% thanks to strong gains at its three major brands.

For Fiat-Chrysler, Jeep is still the fast-rising star as the Renegade has been rolled out successfully. The American SUV-brand is now the group’s second best selling brand, outselling Lancia(-Chrysler) and Alfa Romeo for the first time ever in Europe. To put this in perspective: Lancia-Chrysler sold more than three times as many cars as Jeep in January of 2014, and Alfa Romeo more than twice.… Continue Reading …

Glickenhaus, you lucky bastard!

James Glickenhaus is already well-known to car enthusiasts as the guy who had Ferrari fashion him the gorgeous P4/5 by Pininfarina, but now he’s gone one better and built himself his very own supercar: the SCG 003S. And I have to say the result looks great! Sure, the front looks like a slightly smoother version of the Lamborghini Veneno, and the whole car has a lot of elements from the Enzo (nose, canopy-like glasshouse, front fenders), but the final result looks very smooth and dynamic, not unlike the GT by Citroën! Oh, and the aerodynamic channels between the engine bay and the rear wheels, my favorite feature on the 2015 Ford GT, look great in combination with rear wing (which itself looks like a cross between the Ferrari F40 and a modern LeMans prototype).… Continue Reading …

To fit or not to fit: Do car segments matter?

The concept of a car “segment” is a curious thing. Mostly customers don’t know or don’t care in which segment their car competes. And in these crossover- and niche-obsessed times I get the feeling that predefined segments are becoming less and less relevant. After all, is the Dacia Sandero a competitor to the similarly-priced Suzuki Celerio, or rather the similarly-sized Opel Corsa? What about the BMW 5GT? Does it compete with the Mercedes-Benz E-class, R-class, or maybe old-fashioned minivans? Ultimately, does the notion of a segment even matter anymore beyond comparison tests and sales statistics?

Yes, they do, but not necessarily as a direct source of information to the buying customer. Rather, I believe they capture the idea that, when buying cars, consumers will usually decide on which car size they want (usually by anchoring their search on the segment leader e.g. the VW Golf) and then cross-shop similar cars. And cars that don’t neatly fit into these “search sets” are often ignored, especially if they are too different from the market leader in their segment.

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New Audi R8: nice, but why does it look like a facelift?

The all new R8 (no, not a facelift!)

Even as a big Audi fan I have to admit the new Audi R8 looks too much like a facelift of the old one. What’s more, the new details disappoint, from the new hexagonal snout (too blocky, especially the thick vertical parts either side of the main opening) , the loss of the “side blades” which made the previous car more distinctive, and finally the rear lights that somehow look cheap. I really wish the front was more like the spy-shot/fan-made rendering shown below, with its aggressively thin LED lights (never really learned whether this supposed “leaked picture” was real, but it could be it was a proposed treatment for the scrapped R4 baby brother).

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How Nissan can become Europe’s best selling Asian brand again

In the late 1990’s, Nissan was Europe’s best selling Asian car brand thanks to the Micra, Almera and Primera, which were the epitome of Japanese cars in that period: not very exciting, but extremely reliable. But in the early 2000’s, they tried to bring more frivolous design into their cars with the 2002 Micra K12 and 2002 Primera P12, and as a result, the once faithful customers looking for anonymous transportation stayed away. At the same time, the newly formed alliance with Nissan-sales-Europe-1997-2014Renault caused the Japanese engineers to lose their focus on bulletproof reliability, and Nissan’s sales dropped from almost 440.000 units in 1998 to just over 300.000 in 2007. Contrastingly, Toyota was growing fast, and it has held the title of biggest Asian brand in Europe since 2000, even more than doubling Nissan’s sales between 2004 and 2008.

As Nissan realized that they could no longer be competitive in the regular compact hatchback and midsized sedan and station wagon segments with the Almera and Primera, they made a very risky but brave decision: abandon Europe’s second and third largest segments with combined annual volumes of 4.3 million units in 2006 (5.9 million including premium brands) in favor of relatively small, but fast-growing niche segments.… Continue Reading …

Light commercial vehicle sales Europe 2013

LCV-sales-statistics-Europe-Renault_Kangoo-Trafic-MasterFor the first time, and after many requests from readers interested in this data, I can share recent data on European LCV sales. Between 2009 and 2013, light commercial vehicle sales in Europe have fluctuated between 1,3 million and 1,55 million, with the top-10 best selling brands accounting for over 90% of sales. Eight brands in the top-10 are European, with two Japanese manufacturers competing in the bottom half of the top-10 with either clones of European vans or an in-house van produced locally in the continent.

LCV sales include mainly sales of cargo vans, which are available in four size categories in Europe, but also pick-up trucks, a category that’s hugely popular in the United States and other parts of the world, but not so in Europe, where less than 100.000 pick-ups are sold annually. Commercial versions of passenger cars and SUVs are also included in the LCV sales, but outside of France these types of vehicles make up just a small percentage of total light commercial vehicle sales in Europe.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2014 EV and PHEV segments

Sales of zero emission vehicles keep growing fast in Europe, the EV segment has grown another 50% in 2014, to over 60.000 vehicles, as the top-3 has continued to add sales and a flock of new products hit the market last year.

Electric_car-segment-European-sales-2014-Nissan_LEAFThe traditional leader Nissan Leaf has become the first EV to hit 15.000 annual sales in Europe, adding up to over 33.000 cumulative sales for the model. However, the Renault Zoe has outsold the Leaf in each of the last three months of the year with over 5.000 sales in the last quarter alone. The Zoe has become the second electric car to sell over 10.000 units in Europe in a single year and since demand is no longer limited to customers who don’t mind renting the battery separately, there may be a new best selling EV in 2015.… Continue Reading …

European sales 2014 exotic and sports car segments

Exotic_car-segment-European-sales-2014-BMW_i8Sales of exotic cars in Europe have accelerated their growth curve in the fourth quarter, and almost all of that growth can be attributed to a single model: the BMW i8. The i8 was already the best selling exotic car in the third quarter, but in Q4 its sales shifted up another gear, as BMW’s Plug-In electric hybrid took a commanding 41,6% share of the segment with 612 sales. As a result, the i8 has come within 150 units of the Ferrari 458 Italia in the full-year ranking, even though customer deliveries didn’t officially start until June. In 2015, look for the i8 in first position of the segment from day one.

This would push the Bentley Continental and the 458 Italia down into second and third place after these two models have controlled this segment for the past three years. And while the Ferrari threatened the Bentley as the 458 Speciale was the hottest product in the first half of 2014, its sales have started to thaw in the second half, when rumors of the 2016 launch of its replacement started to surface. That model, the 488 GTB is due in 2016 and will be Ferrari’s second turbocharged sports car after the recent California T.… Continue Reading …