US sales 2015 first half Large SUV segment

US SUV Large

The Large SUV segment shrank by 3% year-on-year, by far the worst performance of all non-premium SUV segments. It is important to keep in mind, however, that this trend is partly explained by the way this segment is defined – as really large SUVs with body-on-frame construction. And it is the fact that customers are gradually turning away from these rather uncouth underpinnings towards altogether more comfortable monocoque-based cars that will explain the decline of this segment, although many of the Midsize SUVs are, in fact, as big on the outside (and often bigger inside) than those in the Large SUV segment.… Continue Reading …

Look-a-like: new Kia Sportage and…

Kia Sportage

Kia finally released official pictures of the long-awaited and frequently-spy-photographed Kia Sportage. And a handsome beast it is too, with the same muscular stance and profile view as the old model, and an arguably even better-resolved rear. The front, however, leaves a lot to be desired, though it’s easy to imagine what Kia’s designers were going for:

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US sales 2015 first half Mid-sized SUV segment

SUV mid-sizedThe Mid-sized SUV segment grew by 14% year-on-year, slightly faster than the average growth rate of 12% for all non-premium SUVs and a lot faster than the market as a whole (4%). Interestingly, this growth can’t really be attributed to any particularly new model (sales of most newest models actually did not grow that quickly), it is more a factor of practically all models gaining across the board.

Ford Explorer

2016 Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is the segment leader by a wide margin, selling more than 50% more cars than the second most popular model. The really surprising thing is that its sales grew by 17% even though the new, facelifted model was about to go on sale in the summer 2015 – possibly dealers were offering big discounts to make space for the new model. Also, one has to keep in mind that some of those sales go to the Police, for which the Explorer is the main vehicle in the US, but that is only around 12k units per half-a-year period.

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Look-a-like: Renault Talisman and…

Renault Talisman

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US sales 2015 first half Compact SUV segment

SUV compact 2
The Compact SUV segment grew by 13% compared to the first half of 2014, a very strong performance given the size of the segment – annual sales are more than 2.5 million, and it accounts for more than half of all SUV sales. In fact, in H1 2015 it surpassed the Mid-sized segment to become the largest single segment in the US by sales, and one with the largest number of models offered. Given how US customers substitute SUVs for family wagons it should not come as a huge surprise that the a Compact SUV has become the default go-to family car.

Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V remains the market leader, with sales rising by 5% following a facelift late in 2014. The ever-popular Honda distanced itself from the second-placed Ford Escape which came within 2,000 units of dethroning the Honda this time last year, but whose sales fell by 4% this time around. It may yet get another shot at the top spot when the extensive facelift arrives later this year, due to give the Escape a much tougher look inspired by its larger brother, the Edge, although whether that will turn out to be a winning move in this family-friendly segment remains to be seen. Close on the Escape’s heels in #3 is the Chevrolet Equinox, enjoying a healthy 21% growth in sales, a pretty remarkable performance given that at 5 years it’s one of the oldest models in this segment. It is closely followed by the Toyota RAV4 in fourth.

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US sales 2015 first half Subcompact SUV segment

SUV subcompactThe Subcompact SUV was the fastest-growing of all segments in the US, exactly doubling its sales compared to the first half of 2014. And if that was not enough to convince you that it was the place to be right now – half of the cars were new to the segment, making this also the “freshest” from among all segments.

Buick Encore

Buick Encore

The new segment leader is the Buick Encore, whose sales rose 29% year-on-year. The little SUV, developed in Europe as the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, clearly found good traction in the market with its combination of good looks, small dimensions and reasonable spaciousness. Its success took parent GM by surprise (it is the first time that a Buick has led a segment in sales in… ever?), and it belatedly decided to start selling its sister car, the Chevrolet Trax, to the US market. The effect? Immediate jump to second spot with almost 25,000 sales.

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US sales 2015 first half Premium Limousine segment

US premium limousine 2

The Premium Limousine segment in the US shrank by 8% compared to the first half of 2014, not a great performance but hardly a surprising one given that half of the cars in this segment are on schedule to be replaced in the next year.

Mercedes-Benz S-class Coupe

Mercedes-Benz S-class Coupe

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class remains the clear market leader, selling more than twice as many units as its nearest competitor. The model actually experienced a decline of 6% compared to previous year, a surprising result given that the model only came to market at the end of 2013. What makes this performance all the more surprising is that the second-placed BMW 7-series experienced growth of 11% in its final year on the market. Bizarre. Still, one can expect the new S-Class coupe to add handsomely to these numbers, not to mention the delicious-looking new S-Class cabriolet.

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US sales 2015 first half Premium Large segment

US premium large

The US Large Premium segment shrank by 13% year-on-year, the largest decline from among the Premium segments and the third largest from among the 25 segments we keep track of. Part of the reason may be that the segment leaders are aging, but overall there may be a shift away from the segment towards the smaller but ever-so-capable Premium Mid-sized offerings. It will be interesting to see how much the market will recover once the new BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class hit the market.

Lexus ES

For now, the market leader remains the Lexus ES, going strong in its fourth year on the market. For the European readers among you – not sure what the ES is? It is basically the last mainstream car that Lexus targets unashamedly at older customers, with its comfy suspension setting, homely FWD underpinnings from the Toyota Avalon and the softest version of its divisive design language. Even though Lexus may be chasing BMWs these days the ES remains popular with its target audience – while it lost 12% of sales in doing so it actually retained its share of the segment, and there is a facelift arriving in the second half of 2015.

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US sales 2015 first half Premium Mid-sized segment

US premium mid-sizedThe Premium Mid-sized segment grew by a healthy 10% year-on-year, a better performance than all the Premium segments combined (3%) or the market as a whole (4%). The growth is driven not just by the good performance of the new entrants into the segment (Mercedes-Benz C class, Lexus RC, Acura TLX), but also by the growth in sales of the evergreen BMW 3/4 series. In fact, this may well be one of the “freshest” from among the established segments, with only the aging Audi A4/A5 and Volvo 60 series being more than 4 years old. Such a healthy growth rate widens the lead the Premium Mid-sized segment has over the Premium Large segment, outselling the larger cars by more than 3-to-2, and that lead is only likely to increase when the new A4 enters the market.

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US sales 2015 first half Premium Compact segment

US premium compact

The Premium Compact segment is not only the fastest growing of the Premium segments, it is one of the fastest growing segments overall with a year-on-year growth of 59%. The largest contributor to this growth is the Audi A3, which has been selling like hot cupcakes ever since Audi introduced the sedan version (as if more evidence was needed that US consumers love sedans). In fact, it grew so quickly that it surpassed the Mercedes-Benz CLA to grab the #1 spot, despite the former being the slightly more established market player. This gives Audi a rare segment lead in the US, a place where usually BMW and Mercedes-Benz duke it out for the top spot, with Audi at best a distant third.

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