Renault Kwid is one good-looking Dacia!

One is used to cars designed for the Indian market often looking rather ridiculous: think tall and narrow Nano, the booted Renault Thalia (Clio), or, even worse, the Suzuki Swift sedan. That is why the newest Renault for the Indian market, the Kwid, is a very pleasant surprise – it not only looks good, it looks European-good! Not only that, it is based on an all-new CMF-A platform from the Renault-Nissan alliance, though a 0.8-liter petrol unit will likely ensure its more “show” than “go”. Still, starting at below $5,000 in India, the car looks to be a great hit, and will surely be sold in markets around the world.

Renault-KWID-5

What is weird about it, though, is that it looks a whole lot like another car from Renault’s sister company: the Dacia Sandero Stepway. A smaller, better-executed version, sure – but the family resemblance is undeniable.

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Chevy aims to out-pony the Mustang with its new Camaro (w/ historical sales)

Following months of teasers Chevrolet finally revealed the all-new Camaro, and a handsome beast it is too! It also represents the best trend in recent years among car-makers: to make the new-gen cars smaller and lighter. Here it scores some major points over the Ford Mustang, which grew both larger and heavier in the new generation, making it less of a pony and more of a slightly overweight steed. The Camaro, on the other hand, looks lean, mean, and ready for action!
2016-Chevrolet-Camaro-07

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European car sales analysis March 2015 – models

After discussing the brand ranking for European car sales in March 2015, we now look at the models ranking. Like the brands, this ranking is also influenced by the traditionally strong selling month in the UK, as this market took three out of every ten cars sold in March, compared to two out of every ten over the course of an entire year. As a result, the models that sell relatively well in the UK benefit from strong March volumes. These include the Ford Fiesta and Focus (UK’s # 1 and #3), Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Astra, Nissan Qashqai, Fiat 500, Mini and Audi A3.

Nissan-Qashqai-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeFor example, like I already predicted in the February models ranking, the Ford Fiesta has a blockbuster month which helps it move ahead of its main competitors Corsa, Clio and Polo year-to-date after falling behind the trio after the first two months. In fact, the Fiesta has its best selling month in three years, the Corsa its best month in four years, while there are no less than five models in the top-30 that reach their best-ever sales month this march: the Qashqai, A3, 500, Mini and Nissan Juke break their own monthly sales records at over 31.500, over 24.500, over 23.000, almost 17.000 and almost 15.000 sales respectively.

A bit further below, both the Hyundai i10 and the i20 reach their highest volumes in Europe ever, the latter thanks to its new generation, which clearly has been well-received in this important market for the brand.… Continue Reading …

European car sales analysis March 2015 – brands

The European car market grew by an impressive 11,4% in March to 1.643.607 units, pushing up the Year-To-Date increase to 8,2% at over 3,6 million cars sold. This is the largest monthly year-over-year gain in at least five years and possibly a decade, indicating the recovery of the European car market is picking up speed.

Ford_Fiesta-European-sales-March-2015March sales are traditionally skewed towards brands that are popular in the United Kingdom, as this is the kingdom’s biggest selling month of the year thanks to the bi-annual license plate change-over. Brands that benefit more than others are Ford, Opel-Vauxhall, Nissan, Jaguar-Land Rover and Mini. For example, Nissan moves ahead of Toyota to become Europe’s best selling Asian brand, like it did in March 2014. However, Nissan now also outsells Toyota year-to-date thanks to its strong March sales, and this is the first time it does so in the 21st century.

Volkswagen Group and Renault-Nissan are still the biggest volume winners, with VW now also leading the way year-to-date. In March, PSA also joined the top-3 of fast-growing manufacturers, while General Motors is the only manufacturer to lose sales compared to March of last year.… Continue Reading …

Unpopular opinion: Mercedes R-class

Sometimes there are cars that, in theory, make a lot of sense, but when they arrive on the market it suddenly turns out that customers are just not interested. Not necessarily because they’re “bad cars” per se, but just because they don’t resonate with the audience. The Mercedes R-class is one such car that I think was unfairly shunned by the market. More than that, it is probably my favorite non-AMG car Mercedes made in the late 2000s.

Mercedes-Benz-R-Class-2008-1600-06

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Piëch ousted as VW-chairman, but keeps pulling the strings

When Kriss documented the “Game of Thrones”/House of Cards-like power battle between Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch and CEO Martin Winterkorn last week, I posted the reaction that Piëch is a tough businessman and a shrewd Machiavellian whom I suspected of backing off because he couldn’t win the fight, but already had some play in mind to win the battle.

Ferdinand_Piech-Volkswagen-board-photo_credit-ReutersThis week it became obvious he did indeed have such a play in mind, but he must have confided in at least one wrong person. After he lost support from the rest of VW’s top decision makers, including his cousin Wolfgang Porsche and the state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), one of the largest non-family shareholders, Piëch publicly claimed that he would back Winterkorn as well. But in the background, he was secretly rallying other family members to support him in an all-out coup to kick Winterkorn out and replace him with Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller.

When this word of this coup spread, VW’s work council and Lower Saxony forced an emergency board meeting, in which they gave Piëch the choice to either resign on his own, or to be forced out after a vote. A casual observer would now think this was the end of it, but Ferdinand Piëch wouldn’t be Ferdinand Piëch if he wouldn’t still be pulling the strings behind the scenes. … Continue Reading …

Marchionne wants another merger, he should look to China

Sergio-Marchionne-black-sweaterFiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has again claimed that the automotive industry needs more consolidation, and that within a few years time, automakers that sell less than 6 million cars a year worldwide won’t be able to stay competitive. Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors currently sell at around 10 million units a year, Renault-Nissan 8,5 million and Hyundai-Kia 8 million, which means at 4,75 million sales in 2014, FCA is trailing both its main competitors and its own “bar for succes”. Before 2020, Marchionne envisions himself making another “huge deal” with another automaker in order to reach sufficient economies of scale. He has also hinted that he would like to get either General Motors or PSA Peugeot-Citroën at his table to negotiate the possibilities of a merger. But I think he’s looking in the wrong direction.

Managers at the new GM still flinch when they recall the last deal the old GM struck with Marchionne, the one that forced them to either buy the remaining 80% of the money-losing Fiat brand they didn’t already own, or to pay them $ 2 billion to get out of the contract. They opted for the latter and Marchionne used exactly that money to turn Fiat around before buying Chrysler out of bankruptcy. PSA has been saying for a while they’re only interested in partnerships and collaborations, not in mergers.… Continue Reading …

Shanghai Auto Show – The Bad and Ugly

After marveling at some nice metal revealed at the Shanghai Auto Show, now is the time to look at some of the blatant Chinese copies and other cars you wish no one wasted good metal on.

Honda Concept D

In a big upset, the Japanese company stole the Ugliest in Show title right from the Chinese automakers’ noses with the Concept D. I don’t think there are words that can do justice to just how awfully styled this car is, with some of the worst choices of color, intersecting lines, mismatched proportions seen in the past couple of years. The gold-brown alloys are the final insult…

Honda-Concept-D-1

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Chinese car sales data now available!

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Yema_T70-SUVGreat news! In the past 18 months, Left-Lane.com has quickly established itself as the leading source of European car sales data, sorted by brand and by model. And lately we’ve been working hard at expanding our database to the biggest car market in the world with almost 20 million annual sales: China. And today we launch the result of all that hard work, as you can use the second drop-down menu on the top right-hand corner of the page to search Chinese auto sales figures of every car sold in China from 2003. That means 72 brands and more than 550 models!

As you’re used from us, you can find annual sales figures by brand and by model from 2003 until 2014 and monthly sales data from 2013 until 2015, which will be updated monthly. And similar to the European monthly brand rankings and model rankings, I also plan to give monthly brand and model rankings for China, pointing out the latest trends and new model launches in the world’s largest car market.… Continue Reading …

Shanghai Auto Show – The Good

The first in a series of articles looking at the multitude of cars that made their debut at the Shanghai Auto Show, first we look at the Good, starting with…

Mercedes GLC Coupe Concept

Although it would seem more appropriate to start the list with a Chinese car, it is really hard to ignore arguably the star of the show. While its bigger brother GLE Coupe is a bloated-looking X6 copy, the GLC Coupe is all muscle and elegant lines. It makes you wonder how could BMW get the X4 so wrong…

Mercedes-Concept-GLC-Coupe-10

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