From North Cape to Gibraltar – Part 5: Driving through Lapland, Finland

bjorn-arctici-circleI never thought crossing back the Arctic Circle would feel so southernly…

This is Part 5 of our North Cape to Gibraltar series. You can also check out Part 1: Stockholm and Central SwedenPart 2: Kustvägen to FinlandPart 3: The journey to North Cape and Part 4: To the Russian border. We are looping the loop with this 5th part and coming back to Stockholm. The 1.700km-long journey takes three days but the most interesting part of the trip is the first 550km section from the Russian border in Grense Jakobselv to Rovaniemi, crossing the iconic Lapland region of northern Finland.

grense-jakobselv-stockholm-map

welcome-to-finland

2-degrees-outsideWe are back in Finland to explore the northern tip of the country.

After watching the sunset in Grense Jakobselv metres away from the Russia border, Björn and I take the 215km journey to Inari on the shore of Inarijärvi (Lake Inari) at night. The scenery is magical: a constant succession of lakes and immense forests, with the almost full moon bathing the landscapes with a surreal glow. The temperature goes down to a lowest-for-this-trip 2 degrees Celsius, which in fact isn’t that low given how far up north we are: above Iceland and almost as far north as where we started our U.S. North to South adventure, in Barrow Alaska. The reason behind this relatively mild climate is weather systems warmed by the northern Atlantic Gulf Stream drift into Northern Europe. Driving in darkness is the best opportunity to test Björn’s headlights. In contrast with the particularly weak lights of the two Ram pickups I drove in the U.S., the Volvo XC90’s lights are so strong I often though the trees were either illuminated artificially by street lights and I was entering a village or they were lit by a car coming my way behind the bend. Talk about powerful.

inarijarvi-4

inarijarvi-3

inarijarvi-2
work-is-for-people-who-dont-fish

inarijarvi-1The shores of Inariyärvi

Inari is every bit the quiet, unassuming fishing village I thought it would end up being. With a population of only 550 people, it’s a peaceful nature retreat where life flows in slow-motion. Inarijärvi (Lake Inari) is a constant calming presence throughout the village. It is Lapland’s largest lake at 1.153 sq-km and contains over 3.000 islands. The endless forests surrounding the village give the impression to be cut out from the rest of the world. The locals are laid back and friendly, the Hotel Inari is so perfectly comfortable I decided to stay another night to recharge batteries that were starting to go low after almost 4.000km driven in five days. Here I saw my second aurora borealis, but once again it was so fleeting and faint that I had no way of bringing back a photographic proof. It’ll have to be next time I’m in this neck of the woods as we are almost at the southernmost point where auroras can be seen at this time of the year (mid-September).

sami-museum-1

sami-flag

sami-shoesSiida Sámi culture museum

Although it is a fantastic location to unwind, Inari’s main pull is its status as Finland’s most significant Sámi centre. The best place to learn about the Sámi culture is the Siida museum in town, which I strongly recommend you visit while in Inari. The Sámi, totalling 137.500 people, are the oldest remaining indigenous people in the whole of Europe. Since prehistoric times, they have lived and worked in an area covering the present-day northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Russian Kola Peninsula. In order to acquire aboriginal rights, the Finnish government claims the Sámi must “prove” their land ownership, an idea incompatible with the traditional reindeer-herding Sámi way of life. In 1973, the Finnish Sami Parliament was established in Inari and Finland recognized the Sámi as a “people” in 1995, but they have had very little representation in Finnish national politics. The Siida museum is a fascinating display (indoors and outdoors) of the past and present Sami traditions and culture.

reindeer-herds-on-road

bjorn-1000km-fuel-autonomyBjörn warns me of herds of reindeers coming up on the road and achieves its best fuel autonomy.

We are now back on the road towards Rovaniemi, driving through one of Europe’s last great wilderness areas. There are 326km between Inari and Rovaniemi, and roughly halfway is Sodankylä with its bustling population of 5.540 souls. This is the main service centre for one of Europe’s least-populated areas with a density of just 0.75 people per sq km. There were herds of reindeers wandering on the road, but I knew about it beforehand thanks to on-point warnings from Björn’s GPS system. Impressive. Some pretty constant driving at 120km/h pushed the autonomy to 1.030km on a full tank of fuel during this stretch of the trip.

bjorn-santa-claus-village

bjorn-santa-claus-post-officeBjörn paying a visit to Santa Claus.

8km before arriving in the capital of Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi, lies the Arctic Circle – the southernmost line at which the sun doesn’t set on at least one day a year. I never thought it would feel so southernly to cross the Arctic Circle again… But most importantly this point is the official residence of Santa Claus! I was bracing for an unhealthy dose of cringeworthy attractions but the Santa Claus village is actually quite tastefully executed. You can visit the Santa Claus Post Office and, wait for it, actually meet the real Santa Claus every day of the year in an impressive grotto. There is a massive photo board showing all celebrities and politicians that have paid Santa a visit (pretty much every head of state). Did I meet Santa? Of course I did! And it was a pleasure: he acted as an ambassador to the region and inquired about my travel itinerary, while never getting out of character. Santa Claus must have a degree in public relations! An experience I recommend also, especially if you are visiting with kids!

toyota-auris-lapland-2

toyota-auris-lapland-1

toyota-proace-lapland

kia-ceed-lapland

honda-civic-tourer-finland

tesla-charging-stations-scandinaviaLapland car landscape and Tesla charging stations in northern Scandinavia

Leaving Finland to return into Sweden means it’s time to share a few notes about the car landscape in Lapland. Here too, there is a very strong bias towards station wagons, but one segment smaller than in Sweden: the Toyota Auris SW is particularly successful, as are the VW Golf and Kia Cee’d. I also spotted a handful of Honda Civic Tourer: the first time I saw this variant in the flesh. Last but not least, I saw the very first Tesla of this trip – a Model S. You may wonder why I have not seen any in Norway, a market where it ranked #1 in September 2013, December 2013 and March 2014. The explanation is simple: the charging stations don’t extend that far north (see map above) and I spotted the Model S near the second northernmost grey point on the Finland map.

swedish-border

bjorn-hoga-kustenbron

bjorn-review-2Over 4.800 km later, Björn is back home in Stockholm…

We cross back into Sweden, and the trip to Stockholm swallowed in a little more time than I would have wished for, due to low speed limits and a constant flow of trucks making any passing attempt perilous on this one lane “highway” After a 4.821 km loop that saw us reach North Cape, it’s now time to (reluctantly) return Björn home, hop on a plane to Paris and take delivery of our Mercedes C-Class Coupe responsible for stretching this trip all the way to Gibraltar. But first, a quick review of Björn, our Volvo XC90, awaits.

bjorn-review-1Time to (reluctantly) give the keys back.

bjorn-great

  • The entire driving experience is utterly comfortable and sophisticated. All sound indicators/alerts are gentle, piano-like notes. The ride is plump and the seats are plush. The Volvo XC90 is an optimal mix of luxury and liveability.
  • Very intuitive and practical touch-screen console. Able to monitor all elements at once while zooming on a particular one such as the GPS function for example. Pinch and zoom function great to use.
  • Line-assist aid is faultless and deeply reassuring. It progressively nurtures a more relaxed way of driving and, interestingly, a faster drive: no hesitation while passing trucks at high speed as you know the car will stay within its lane no matter what. You can watch beautiful Finnish lake landscape a little longer than you normally would, and you can also change clothes while driving as you can remove your hands from the steering wheel with no impact on the car’s trajectory for a few seconds (don’t do this at home!). It’s like driving on rails.
  • The car “won’t” let you overtake unless you indicate (it will gently resist the lane change). Puzzling at first, but a great way to ensure safe driving.
  • Discreet night lights throughout the cockpit, under seats and inside the door knobs ensure visibility of all essential functions at all times.
  • Fantastically coordinated stop-start system that restarts the car just
  • Very strong and effective headlights.
  • Incredible Bowers & Wilkins sound system. Sound doesn’t abruptly starts or stops, it always comfortably phases in and out.
  • Aggressive yet classy exterior design.

bjorn-improve

  • Driving aids can become overbearing over long periods of driving (such as 5.000km in a week, but who in their right mind would do that?). It’s impossible to do something out of the ordinary without being told off: overstepping on the opposite lane to check the road ahead before passing a truck will invariably trigger a “time for a rest” alarm for example, even if you are just starting your day of driving. The tricks of computer-assisted driving, which Volvo will without a doubt iron out as this technology becomes even more sophisticated.
  • GPS (seemingly based on Google Maps) had a few inconsistencies in really remote areas of far north Norway, which made me lose one hour on Day 4. This is probably more of a Google Maps issue but Volvo needs to carefully double-check and iron out the interaction between Google Maps and its own GPS.
  • Wobbly rear end at high speed on dirt track is a little disconcerting for an SUV.
  • Cruise control sometimes quits abruptly and wouldn’t set back. Needs a car restart to function again.
  • Windscreen wipers aren’t always reacting to rain automatically.
  • Some speed limits weren’t correctly read by the car’s cameras – tricky ones such as roadwork-specific limits, or superseded limits that were still indicated on the side of the road. This potentially something Volvo could work on in cooperation with Scandinavian road networks to ensure all signs are displayed in a way that can be read by a computer, not just a human.

Stay tuned for the second part of this Europe series taking us to Gibraltar!

Netherlands November 2016: Renault Clio snaps YTD lead

Renault Clio Netherlands-november-2016The Renault Clio is now the #1 nameplate in the Netherlands so far in 2016. 

* See the Top 40 All-brands and Top 262 All-models by clicking on the title *

The Dutch new car market continues to struggle in November at -20% to 32.271 units, pulling the year-to-date tally down 9% to 347.286 deliveries. Market leaders Renault (+43%) and Opel (+37%) go completely against the grain and both post spectacular year-on-uyear gains, as opposed to Volkswagen (-43%) and Peugeot (-52%). This is illustrated in the models ranking on one hand by the Renault Clio (+51%) in the November lead and snapping the year-to-date lead off the VW Golf at 9.562 sales vs. 9.527, and the Mégane up 277% to #6 thanks to the new generation. In the Opel aisle, the Astra up a whopping 186% to #2 overall while the Karl is up 79% to #3. Volkswagen remains however leader year-to-date with 11.1% share vs. 9% for Renault, its most immediate follower.

kia-niro-netherlands-november-2016The Kia Niro shoots up to #16 in November. 

Kia (+47%), Hyundai (+97%), Suzuki (+19%), Tesla (+12%) and Alfa Romeo (+10%) are the only other manufacturers registering double-digit growth inside the Top 30. On the other hand, Volvo (-64%), Audi (-31%), Citroen (-38%), Seat (-25%), Fiat (-27%), Mitsubishi (-72%) and Dacia (-57%) suffer. These outlandish year-on-year evolutions are the result of the discontinuation of a green tax system Katy the end of 2015 that favoured eco-friendly variants. Other notable models evolutions include the Peugeot 208 up 73% to #5, the Peugeot 108 up 105% to #11, the Kia Niro up 39 spots to #16 overall with 580 sales, the BMW 3 Series up 73%, Hyundai i10 up 110% and the Peugeot 2008 up 91%. We welcome the Toyota C-HR at #54 and the Suzuki Ignis at #147.

Previous month: Netherlands October 2016: Opel Astra takes charge in market down 22%

One year ago: Netherlands November 2015: Peugeot 308 jumps to #1 year-to-date

Full November 2016 Top 40 All-brands and Top 262 All-models below.

(more…)

Denmark November 2016: Opel Astra shines in market > 200.000 units

Opel Astra Denmark November 2016The Opel Astra leads its segment in Denmark above the VW Golf and Peugeot 308. 

* See the Top 43 All-brands and Top 224 All-models by clicking on the title *

Nothing can stop the Danish new car market: up a further 6% to a record 18.007 sales in November which brings the year-to-date tally up 8% to 203.757 units, the first time Denmark crosses the 200.000 unit-benchmark after 11 months only and only a few thousand units shy of the all-time annual record of 207.717 established last year. Volkswagen continues to dominate the brands ranking with a splendid 14.8% market share vs. 11.9% so far in 2016. The German manufacturer distances Peugeot (11.2%), Opel (7.8%), Renault (6.7%) and Toyota (6%), while Mercedes soars 4 spots on October to break into the Top 10 at #9. Model-wise, the Peugeot 208 is back to the #1 spot it holds year-to-date with 5.5% share ahead of the VW Up (4.8%), Polo (3.2%) and Opel Astra (3%) up a further two ranks to #4, leading its segment above the VW Golf (#5) and Peugeot 308 (#6). Notice also the VW Passat up 84% to #7, the Hyundai i10 up 26% to #8 and the Citroen C3 up 47% to #11.

Previous month: Denmark October 2016: Volkswagen (+26%) outpaces record market

One year ago: Denmark November 2015: Peugeot 208 back to #1, Tesla Model S up to #4

Full November 2016 Top 43 All-brands and Top 224 All-models below.

(more…)

From North Cape to Gibraltar – Part 4: To the Russian border

bjorn-russian-borderBjörn at the Russian border.

This is Part 4 of our North Cape to Gibraltar series, check out Part 1: Stockholm and Central SwedenPart 2: Kustvägen to Finland and Part 3: The journey to North Cape. Now that we’ve reached the northernmost point of our adventure, instead of flatly driving back the way we came, why not drive east instead, to see where Norway meets Russia. This would end up being the easternmost point of this adventure, as we find ourselves further East than Cairo in Egypt… I have no plans to get into Russia per se, for three reasons: I have already been there in 2013 (Check out the 20 posts in our Trans-Siberian Railway series here), I have no visa and – most importantly – Björn is not allowed to leave the European Union. But that doesn’t mean we can’t check out the border.

russian-border-mapGoogle Maps doesn’t venture as far as the Russian border in Grense Jakobselv, but we did.
bjorn-northern-norway-1

vadsoVadso

From Nordkapp we drive back south to Smørfjord then Lakselv, then follow the coast east to Kunes, Ifjord and Torhop. It doesn’t look like much distance on the map, but I spent the morning going back to Nordkapp to take sunlit pictures, and Björn made its first GPS mistake of the trip: he kept wanting me to drive all the way down south to Finland and then straight back up northeast to Tana – an additional 3 hours – so I went on the wrong route to start with. To his credit, Google Maps does the same mistake, weirdly, as the section from Isfjord to Torhop seems to be recorded as unpassable.

northern-norway-1

northern-norway-2The road to Vadso

As a result, I had to stop in Vadso, the closest town with a hotel. Pause. Yes, the closest town with a hotel. Although we are not as isolated as in the Australian desert, this part of Norway and the world is only very sparsely populated, with villages and cars painting a lonely picture in the landscape. Distances are stretched between settlements and the roads can be windy as they trace through the harshly indented coastline. It’s another rhythm altogether and now that I am used to the line-assist aid of the Volvo XC90, the feeling of driving on rails is growing on me. I feel like a train conductor combing out unchartered territory. There’s definitely a frontier feel in Vadso. An impression of calm before the storm: a quiet town with wild east streaks such as people driving dangerously (gasp!) and less-than-welcoming hotel personnel. One can definitely smell Russia in the air.

russian-border-gps-1The Russian border is the grey linerussian-border-point-1First Russian border point

The next day I retrace my steps from Vadso to hop back on the E6 to get up close and personal with the Russian border. A few km after Elvenes, I have my eyes glued to the GPS map as it seems the road I am driving on actually forms the border between Norway and Russia (see map above). The weather is grey, the clouds are low and the air wet, combining to create an eerie feeling of forbidden. Out in the real world though, there’s no sign yet that I am touching Russia with Björn’s wheels, and without GPS I wouldn’t have guessed. There’s not a single Russian car on the road. Things change where the E105 to Murmansk splits just before the official Russian border point. It’s a highly secured area and I had to take the above picture while still driving as stopping is strictly forbidden. I turn left on the 886 to Grense Jakobselv.

bjorn-hagglunds-bandvagn-2016-norway-2016

bjorn-to-grense-jakobselvBjörn on the way to Grense Jakobselv

The road suddenly gets a lot narrower and Björn’s GPS is starting to seriously stress out, gently but repeatedly suggesting a sharp u-turn. This part of Norway is another unchartered GPS area, including on Google Maps which can’t for the life of it tell that there’s actually a road – granted, sometime a dirt track – that leads to Grense Jakobselv. I persist as the skies get greyer and more menacing by the minute. To add to the tension, I start to spot a few military vehicles parked on the side of the road. As I snap a few pics including the one above, a Norwegian military squadron on quads appears out of nowhere. Have I taken the wrong picture? It wouldn’t be the first time… (I had a similar experience in 2013 in Moscow) But no. Big waves, big smiles and big hellos as they drive off into the wilderness. I stand there astounded.

russian-border-gps-2The dirt track hugs the Russian border (grey line on the GPS) bjorn-russian-border-2Russia is literally at a stone’s throw from Björn’s window.

At one point the road curbs sharply to the left and becomes an unmaintained dirt track. The only sound is the river flowing to my right. It turns out this is the Russian border. We are now driving northbound straight to the see and the track hugs the river so close it even acts as riverbank a few times. The air is electric with tension. Whats the big deal? I hear you ask, it’s only Russia. The natural feature forming the river is totally passable: you could even walk through the river easily, so shallow it is. Except no one is allowed to cross here. Beacons and captors are lined up at regular intervals along the water and although the only sound is of the river flowing, I could swear I’m hearing the regular beeps of cameras filming.

russian-border-point-3

russian-border-point-2“The border runs in the river”

Björn my Volvo XC90 suddenly feels like one of James Bond’s high tech cars taking me to a dodgy encounter in a god forsaken location. Many signs pepper the riverbank, explicitly indicating that crossing the borderline – aka the river – is strictly prohibited by any means (land, motor or air). Not only that, but it is also prohibited to “throw items across the borderline (!), to intentionally make contact with, or act in an insulting manner towards persons on the other side of the border and to photograph Russian military personnel and equipment in an aggressive or provocative manner”… At the point of the track where the river is the narrowest, there is a roadside shelter with a bench, tarpaulin, covers, donnas and basic food supplies. It seems river crossing is in fact happening here, and the Norwegian authorities have decided to soothe the experience rather than aggressively deter it. A fascinating sight.

grense-jakobselv-1

grense-jakobselv-2

grense-jakobselv-gps-locationGrense Jakobselv

The arrival in Grense Jakobselv is as haunting and mysterious as it looks. This place is actually not fully inhabited and could very well qualify as a ghost town. No wonder Google Maps didn’t want me here! There’s no more than a handful of houses and a gaunt church towering the location. Although the entire area feels tense today, I can’t help but imagine how heavily the stink of paranoia would have suffocated this part of the world during the Cold War years. This tiny river flowing in a barren landscape used to be the material illustration of the iron curtain, the frontier between two ideologies, the gaping pit between the East and the West, for decades.

Mazda CX-5 Vadso September 2016. Picture courtesy caradvice.com.auThe Mazda CX-5 and CX-3 are the best-selling nameplate in the Vadsø district.

Exclusively to BSCB, we can also share the detail of the best-sellers in the two districts we have traversed in this Part 4 of our North Cape to Gibraltar series. The Vadsø district is Mazda territory, with the CX-5 and CX-3 brilliantly leading the sales charts so far in 2016. It’s also SUV territory with the Top 5 best-sellers belonging to this segment, and 7 out of the Top 10. The Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan Qashqai shine, while the national #1, the VW Golf, has to settle for a discreet #9 ranking.

Vadsø district – 1/1-18/9/16:

Pos Model Vadsø % Norway % Nor FY15
1 Mazda CX-5 23 11.6% 2,022 1.7% 11 10
2 Mazda CX-3 16 8.0% 1,778 1.5% 12 32
3 Toyota RAV4 16 8.0% 3,683 3.2% 4 7
4 Mitsubishi Outlander 14 7.0% 4,561 3.9% 2 6
5 Nissan Qashqai 14 7.0% 1,446 1.2% 19 12
6 VW Passat 11 5.5% 3,711 3.2% 3 8
7 Nissan X-Trail 10 5.0% 787 0.7% 47 36
8 Ford Mondeo 8 4.0% 1,386 1.2% 21 14
9 VW Golf 6 3.0% 10,664 9.2% 1 1
10 VW Tiguan 6 3.0% 1,758 1.5% 13 28

Source: OFV. Norway data is 1/1-30/9/16

Nissan Pulsar Norway September 2016The Nissan Pulsar ranks 4th in the Kirkenes district.

Eastwards in the Kirkenes district which includes Grense Jakobselv, Volkswagen holds the two top spots with the Golf and Passat while Nissan vastly over-performs, placing the Qashqai, Pulsar and X-Trail inside the Top 5. Carbuyers in this part of Norway are also very keen on SUVs, with 5 out of the Top 10 best-sellers inside that segment. The Suzuki Vitara in particular is favoured here at #7 vs. #32 in the whole of Norway.

Kirkenes district – 1/1-18/9/16:

Pos Model Kirkenes % Norway % Nor FY15
1 VW Golf 24 19.5% 10,664 9.2% 1 1
2 VW Passat 15 12.2% 3,711 3.2% 3 8
3 Nissan Qashqai 9 7.3% 1,446 1.2% 19 12
4 Nissan Pulsar 8 6.5% 126 0.1% 122 98
5 Nissan X-Trail 7 5.7% 787 0.7% 47 36
6 Toyota RAV4 7 5.7% 3,683 3.2% 4 7
7 Suzuki Vitara 6 4.9% 1,180 1.0% 32 29
8 Toyota Auris 6 4.9% 3,554 3.1% 5 2
9 Suzuki SX4/S-Cross 5 4.1% 689 0.6% 51 41
10 Toyota Prius 5 4.1% 1,572 1.4% 17 43

Source: OFV. Norway data is 1/1-30/9/16

peugeot-expert-vestre-jakobselv

vw-transporter-kirkenes-2016Peugeot Expert and VW Transporter near Vadso.

We’ll finish on a few comments on the (rare) car landscape of the area, filled with VW Transporter and Caddy LCVs. These two models do not appear in the sales charts we publish every month, simply because we have stopped covering Light Commercial Vehicles sales for Norway. However these category sells in great numbers here, and the latest launches seem to already have resonated with buyers: I spotted a few examples of the the twins Toyota ProAce and Peugeot Expert (pictured above).

Best-selling LCVs in Norway – January-November 2016:

Pos Model Nov-16 % 2016 % Pos
1 VW Caddy 470 13.7% 4,282 14.0% 1
2 VW Transporter 362 10.5% 3,637 11.9% 2
3 Mercedes Vito 256 7.5% 2,354 7.7% 4
4 Ford Connect 231 6.7% 1,907 6.2% 5
5 Peugeot Partner 219 6.4% 2,475 8.1% 3
6 Isuzu D-Max 175 5.1% 841 2.7% 8
7 Toyota Hilux 171 5.0% 715 2.3% 10
8 Toyota ProAce 148 4.3% 601 2.0% 13
9 VW Amarok 115 3.4% 666 2.2% 12
10 Citroen Berlingo 113 3.3% 1,114 3.6% 7
11 Toyota Land Cruiser 110 3.2% 750 2.4% 9
12 Ford Ranger 110 3.2% 669 2.2% 11
13 Ford Transit Custom 105 3.1% 1,153 3.8% 6
14 Opel Vivaro 72 2.1% 525 1.7% 14
15 Peugeot Expert 63 1.8% 473 1.5% 16

Now that we have hit the Russian border, it’s time to head back south. Next, for the last iteration of the Scandinavian side of this North Cape to Gibraltar series, we cross northern Finland to visit the Sami people and Santa Claus. Stay tuned!

Russia November 2016: Lada outpaces market up for 1st time in 2 years

lada-vesta-russia-november-2016The Lada Vesta sells a record 5.661 units in Russia in November. 

* See the Top 55 All-brands and Top 25 models by clicking on the title *

Finally! The Russian new car market manages a slight year-on-year gain in November (+0.6%) after 22 consecutive months of decline – the last gain was seen in December 2014. It’s too early to tell whether the market has bottomed out indeed though and this is confirmed by Joerg Schreiber, Chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee: “It is good to be able to say such a thing after all, but it is far too early to read a trend turnaround into this. For now, all eyes are on December which has the potential to demonstrate that the market continues to move in the right direction”. Lest we forget the year-to-date tally is down 12% to 1.279.987 and that November 2016 is only the third month of year-on-year gains in the past 46.

jaguar-f-pace-russia-november-2016-picture-courtesy-zr-ruThe F-Pace boosts Russian Jaguar sales up 265% this month. Pictures zr.ru 

The Top 5 best-selling carmakers all outperform the market: homegrown behemoth Lada is in excellent shape this month with a 18% surge to 19.3% share, fast outpacing its immediate followers Hyundai (11.9%) and Kia (11.1%) both up 4%. Renault soars 13% to #4, distancing Toyota (+7%), Volkswagen (-8%) and Nissan, in great difficulty again at -18%. Chery (+10%), GAZ (+18%), Lexus (+22%), Porsche (+29%), Mini (+32%), Jeep (+38%), Subaru (+45%), Volkswagen Vans (+61%), Jaguar (+265%) and Smart (+352%) post the most spectacular sales improvements in November, while at the other end of the performance ladder Datsun (-16%), Suzuki (-20%), Land Rover (-23%), Mitsubishi (-30%), Audi (-32%), Peugeot (-34%), Volvo (-37%), Fiat (-41%), Dongfeng (-64%) and Geely (-80%) all fall sharply.

hyundai-creta-russia-november-2016-picture-courtesy-zr-ruPerfect scoresheet for the Hyundai Creta in Russia: 4 months out of 4 as #1 SUV. 

In the space of two years, the Russian models ranking has made a sharp U-turn: a Lada leading it is now a rarity, something that used to be utterly unthinkable. In November, the Lada Granta reclaims the title of best-selling nameplate in the country for the first time since last May, but its meagre advantage over its rivals the Kia Rio (108 sales) and Hyundai Solaris (257) do nothing to change anything in the YTD ladder. After 11 months, the Solaris has a comfortable lead at 82.338 sales (-23%) vs. 79.633 for the Kia Rio (-10%) and 78.953 for the Granta (-27%). In other words, we are headed towards the first annual win for a foreign nameplate in Russia since the Lada marque was launched in 1970! This even though the Solaris hatchback was discontinued to give way to the Creta on the Hyundai St Petersburg factory… The culprit for the Granta’s dive: the Vesta, up 11% on October to post a new record monthly volume at 5.661.

nissan-qashqai-russia-november-2016-picture-courtesy-zr-ruThe Qashqai is up 44% but doesn’t prevent Nissan from freefalling 18% in November.

Four months on sale in Russia and four month as the best-selling SUV in the country: it’s a full strike for the Hyundai Creta ranking 5th overall with 4.814 deliveries and distancing the Renault Duster at 3.569 (-17%), the Chevrolet Niva at 2.664 (-11%) and the Renault Kaptur at 2.327, the other instant blockbuster in the country and the segment. With the Logan at #9 (-11%) and the Sandero at #10 (+17%), Renault even places four nameplates inside the November Top 12 vs. just three for Lada. Other great performing SUVs include the Lada XRAY at its best since last May at #16, the Nissan Qashqai up 44% to #18 and the Toyota Prado up 22% to #22.

Previous month: Russia October 2016: Kia Rio dominates again in market down just 3%

One year ago (1): Russia November 2015: Hyundai Solaris #1, Lada Vesta lands in Top 20

One year ago (2): Russia November 2015: Now with Top 306 All-models (BSCB Exclusive)

Full November 2016 Top 55 All-brands and Top 25 models below.

(more…)

India November 2016: Maruti breaks market share record at 52.2%

Maruti Baleno India November 2016. Picture courtesy motorbeam.comThe Maruti Baleno breaks its ranking and volume records in India this month. 

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 20 brands and Top 80 models – click on title to see *

The aftermath of the highly disruptive demonetisation process that India is going through has slowed down the growth of new wholesale car deliveries in the country, with a slim 2% year-on-year improvement to 241.840 units. However the year-to-date tally still showcases a very dynamic 10% gain to 2.729.807 deliveries. Local behemoth Maruti-Suzuki goes from strength to strength this year thanks to a string of perfectly-targeted new launches. Suzuki’s Indian subsidiary even smashes its all-time market share record in November, hitting a gargantuan 52.2% thanks to 126.220 sales. BSCB records show that the only other time Maruti-Suzuki crossed the symbolic 50% share barrier was in July 2015 (50.4%), however the market total did not include luxury brands such as Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover, meaning Maruti’s try share was in fact below 50% then.

tata-tiago-india-november-2016-picture-courtesy-ibtimes-co-inThe Tata Tiago ranks among the 10 best-selling cars in India for the first time. 

Maruti illustrate this record-breaking performance by placing seven vehicles in the Top 8 and monopolising the Top Five for the first time in history with the Alto (+6%), DZire (-9%), Wagon R (+11%), Swift (+23%) and Baleno breaking its monthly volume and ranking records at #5 and 11.093 units (+22%). Hyundai (-8%) and Mahindra (-33%) are hit full frontal by the demonetisation effect but Tata (+21%) is back with a vengeance at #3 after years of paltry results thanks to one nameplate: the Tiago, accounting for 47% of the carmaker’s total sales in November. The small hatch posts a second consecutive month above 6.000 units and ranks among the ten best-selling passenger cars in the country for the first time ever (SUV excluded), #13 overall. Renault (+22% thanks to the Kwid), Volkswagen (+107% thanks to the Ameo) and Datsun (+143% thanks to the Redi-GO) also shine in the brands ranking.

Previous month: India October 2016: Hyundai breaks volume record in biggest month ever

One year ago: India November 2015: Maruti Baleno strong, cannibalises Swift

Full November 2016 Top 20 brands and Top 80 models below.

(more…)

Europe October 2016: Discover the Top 340 models and Top 55 brands

Renault Megane Europe October 2016The new model pushes Renault Megane sales up 42% across Europe. 

* See the Top 55 brands and Top 340 models by clicking on the title *

Final October data for Europe 29 countries is now available, with the overall score almost 9.ooo units below preliminary figures at 1.132.112 delivers for a 0.9% year-on-year drop. The year-to-date tally remains however in frank positive territory at +6.8% to 12.682.782 sales or over 800.000 additional sales compared to the same period a year ago. There are a few changes atop the brands ranking now that sales figures have been confirmed. Renault (-2%) manages to recapture the 2nd spot year-to-date off Ford (-6%) at 889.068 vs. 888.974. It will be a photo finish for the final annual ranking next month. Peugeot for its part (-4%) advances to #5 for the month, overtaking Audi (+1%) at 66.446 vs. 66.180 sales and in a slew of bad news for Audi, Mercedes retains the #6 overall spot at #1 luxury year-to-date at 703.950 vs. 702.769. Another photo finish for next month…

peugeot-3008-europe-october-2016The Peugeot 3008 is back inside the European Top 50 thanks to the new generation. 

Beyond the Top 10, Hyundai (+5%), Kia (+7%), Seat (+13%) and Mini (+20%) post very dynamic gains among high-volume brands, while on the opposite Mitsubishi (-20%), Citroen (-9%), Volvo (-8%) and Mazda (-6%) struggle. Smaller but impressive performers include Alfa Romeo (+22%) thanks to the Giulia, Lancia (+23%), Jaguar (+78%) thanks to the F-Pace and XE, Infiniti (+61%) thanks to the Q30 and Maserati (+46%) thanks to the Levante. Chinese MG surges 62% with the GS SUV but remains extremely discreet at 257 sales. DS (-28%), Tesla (-25%), Ferrari (-28%), Aston Martin (-36%) and Lotus (-40%) are in difficulty this month.

Hyundai Ioniq Europe October 2016-picture-courtesy-autoexpress-co-ukThe Hyundai Ioniq is already level with the Toyota Prius in Europe.

In the models aisle, the only change in the Top 20 compared to preliminary figures is the Peugeot 2008 (now #16) and Skoda Fabia (#17) exchanging positions. The Renault Clio ranks 4th year-to-date below the Ford Fiesta at 252.882 (+0.3%) vs. 253.180 (-6%) which is the reverse order vs. preliminary data. Below, the Renault Mégane is up 7 spots on September and 42% year-on-year to #22 vs. #32 YTD, the Hyundai Tucson is up 52% to #23, the Audi A4 and Kia Sportage both up 24%, the BMW X1 up 137%, VW Touran up 67% and Peugeot 3008 up 52% on October 2015 and 45 ranks on last month to rally back into the Top 50 thanks to the new model. The Fiat Tipo (#60) and Seat Ateca (#80) are the only two recently launched nameplates (<12 months) inside the Top 100 with the Ford Ka+ (#108) catching up and gaining 64 ranks on September while the Hyundai Ioniq is up 72 to #175 and only 60 units below the Toyota Prius. We welcome the Skoda Kodiaq at #285.

Previous post: Europe October 2016: Opel Astra and VW Tiguan shine in market down

Previous month: Europe September 2016: Discover the Top 340 models and Top 52 brands

One year ago: Europe October 2015: Now with Top 340 models and All-brands

Full October 2016 Top 55 brands and Top 340 models below.

(more…)

From North Cape to Gibraltar – Part 3: The journey to North Cape

bjorn-nordkapp-1Spectacular sunset over North Cape.

This is Part 3 of our North Cape to Gibraltar series, click here to check out Part 1: Stockholm and Central Sweden and Part 2: Kustvägen to Finland, a succession of impossibly stunning fishing villages. Today is the big day: the road to North Cape – Nordkapp in Norwegian, roughly 600km from our Finnish pitstop, Ylläsjärvi. We cross into Norway as Finland has no access to the sea northbound. I had imagined a spectacular end-of-the-world location, but not only is it absolutely breath-taking, the journey to reach North Cape is actually the most spectacular part of the trip…

yllasjarvi-nordkapp-with-reference-mapnordkapp-2Road to Nordkapp. Map from Google Maps.

Our first milestone is the Norwegian border, and to reach it we need to cross through some of the most isolated parts of Finland for close to 200km, skirting the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park for almost the entirety of this stretch of the itinerary. It’s the first time we travel through Finland in daylight which gives me an opportunity to confirm that the most popular new cars in this part of the country are consistent with the 2016 sales charts. Even though we are a whopping 1.000 km from the capital Helsinki, the Skoda Octavia – almost exclusively as station wagon –  Nissan Qashqai, Opel Astra (already a few new generation) and Toyota Auris – also as station wagon, are the most frequent nameplates I encountered in and around the border-town of Muonio.

destination-nordkappIt’s not every day we set a car’s GPS destination to Nordkapp…reindeer-caribou-world-distributionWorld distribution of caribou (green) and reindeer (red). Picture Wikimediawhite-reindeerCurious reindeer isn’t fazed by the ballet of cars around.

But for once I have to admit it’s not the cars that fascinated me the most in Finland. A mere few km after leaving Ylläsjärvi and as a potent signal that we’ve entered into their territory (see map above), a full herd of about twenty reindeers find itself peacefully grazing by the side of the road, crossing nonchalantly to explore greener pastures. Not in the least disturbed by whirling ballet of cars slowing, stopping and u-turning to capture the moment. Most of them have grey fur but a few a sparkling white. Little did I know that this ritual would now become par for the course.

norwegian-frontierBjörn is now setting its wheels into Norway.

We now cross the border into Norway to enter a region confusingly called Finnmark – a mix of Finland and Denmark located in northern Norway. Still with us? First is the Finnmarksvidda Plateau, a stark expanse of land sparsely populated with Sámi people. My first encounter with this native people of the area was at a at roadside petrol station/restaurant in Muonio, an elderly woman wearing a full and bright red outfit. I may have stared a bit, but it was from sheer surprise, admiration and awe. Much more on the Sámi people in a next iteration of this Series.

reindeer-sign

norway-towards-nordkappIt’s a straight road north in the barren Finnmarksvidda Plateau.

Thanks to Jan our correspondent in Norway we can share with you exclusive sales data for this region of the world. In the Alta district, the first section we crossed, the best-seller is the Skoda Octavia. Even though the Octavia only ranks 8th overall in Norway, this isn’t that illogical given the district’s proximity to Finland where the Octavia leads. We have a surprise in 2nd place though: the Peugeot 208, up from #57 in Norway. Another smashing success here is the new Mercedes GLC at #5 and #2 SUV below the VW Tiguan. The Skoda Superb (#7) and Kia Sportage (#9) also over-perform.

Alta district – 1/1-18/9/16:

Pos Model Alta % Norway % Nor
1 Skoda Octavia 30 7.4% 2,838 2.4% 8
2 Peugeot 208 26 6.4% 574 0.5% 57
3 VW Golf 23 5.6% 10,664 9.2% 1
4 VW Tiguan 20 4.9% 1,758 1.5% 13
5 Mercedes GLC 16 3.9% 936 0.8% 43
6 VW Passat 14 3.4% 3,711 3.2% 3
7 Skoda Superb 14 3.4% 1,600 1.4% 16
8 Mazda CX-5 13 3.2% 2,022 1.7% 11
9 Kia Sportage 13 3.2% 956 0.8% 42
10 Mitsubishi Outlander 12 2.9% 4,561 3.9% 2
11 Volvo V70 12 2.9% 1,206 1.0% 31

Source: OFV. Norway data is 1/1-30/9/16

bjorn-brennelvBjörn in Brennelv along the E69 leading to Nordkapp.mercedes-cla-hammerfest-september-2016The Mercedes CLA is the best-selling vehicle in Norway’s Hammerfest district.

The Hammerfest district is the northernmost in Norway, and the 2016 sales charts up to the time I visited are even more of a surprise: it’s a Mercedes festival here, with the German luxury carmaker placing no less than five nameplates inside the Top 7. Granted, the market is small (152 sales YTD) but it’s still a stunning achievement nonetheless. The Mercedes CLA holds 11.2% market share thanks to 17 units finding a buyer – and we will assume the majority of these sales are for the Shooting Brake station wagon variant given the particular taste for this format in Scandinavia. The Toyota RAV4 and VW Golf complete the podium.

Hammerfest district – 1/1-18/9/16:

Pos Model H’fest % Norway % Nor FY15
1 Mercedes CLA 17 11.2% 551 0.5% 60 49
2 Toyota RAV4 12 7.9% 3,683 3.2% 4 7
3 VW Golf 10 6.6% 10,664 9.2% 1 1
4 Mercedes A Class 9 5.9% 513 0.4% 65 58
5 Mercedes GLA 9 5.9% 355 0.3% 75 62
6 Mercedes B Class 8 5.3% 1,652 1.4% 15 20
7 Mercedes E Class 6 3.9% 601 0.5% 52 63
8 Toyota Auris 6 3.9% 3,554 3.1% 5 2
9 Toyota Avensis 6 3.9% 1,264 1.1% 28 27
10 Ford Focus 5 3.3% 1,141 1.0% 34 18
11 Mercedes GLC 5 3.3% 936 0.8% 43 94
12 VW Tiguan 5 3.3% 1,758 1.5% 13 28

Source: OFV. Norway data is 1/1-30/9/16

bjorn-nordkapp-5

nordkapp-road-detailNordkapp arrival detail 

355 km north of Ylläsjärvi we hit the Barents Seat in Alta. Then, a further 120km northeast we arrive at Olderfjord for the start of one of the most spectacular roads I’ve ever had the chance to travel on. The E60 kisses the east coast of the peninsula that leads to Nordkapp (pictured above). Peppering the voyage are only a handful of fishing settlements too small to be called villages with only four to five houses at most. It’s drizzling, the sky is grey and menacing. The drama goes crescendo as I drive Björn on the 130km leading to Nordkapp. I stop many times. To grasp the silence, hear the wind and smell the rain. It’s the end of the world.

nordkapp-road

nordkapp

midnight-sun-nordkapp-picture-courtesy-wikipediaNordkapp at sunset – above the cloud base – and a sunlit picture courtesy of Wikimedia.

Just as I thought this couldn’t get any more spectacular, the 7km-long North Cape tunnel makes the journey that much more mysterious, enabling Björn and I to cross the Magerøysundet strait between the Norwegian mainland and the island of Magerøya where Nordkapp is located. After a couple more tunnels on the flank of the cliff we’ve been hugging for over 100 km, we arrive at Honnigsvåg which is the only village on the island. A few more hills as we elevate our position to roughly 300m above see level and finally, around a bend, I suddenly come face to face with Nordkapp just as the sun blazes the sky pink. I can’t avoid a big loud gasp, as it looks almost too beautiful to be true. I quickly park the car at a viewpoint to snap a few photos including the one atop this article. Then, as if in a fairy land far, far away from common sense and lives, three curious reindeers quietly and softly come close to the car, all the while continuing to graze. Nordkapp is a magical land.

nordkapp-3

bjorn-nordkapp-4Nordkapp sunset, and Björn stretching its wheels on the Magerøya island leading to Nordkapp.

While I had Nordkapp in my field of vision, it is another 20 km to actually hit the North Cape, where there is only a visitor centre that was closed when I arrived. There is an earth globe to mark the spot and a steep cliff coupled with strong winds and chill factor all combined to make this visit a rather haunting one. The sun finally set under the clouds below us and all was back to darkness, like a dream had sailed off. This cliff is located at 71°10′21″N 25°47′04″E, 2.102 kilometres south of the North Pole. But there’s a catch: although North Cape is often referred to as the northernmost point of Europe, this title actually belongs to neighbouring Knivskjellodden point, just to the west, which extends 1.457 metres further to the north but is only accessible by foot. There’s more: given both of these points are situated on the Magerøya island, the northernmost point of mainland Europe is actually Cape Nordkinn, 5.7 km south. According to Wikipedia, the northernmost point of Europe including islands is several hundred miles further north, either in Russia’s Franz Josef Land or Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, depending on whether Franz Josef Land is considered to be in Europe or in Asia.

bjorn-nordkapp-2Spectacular scenery on the Magerøya island near Nordkapp. Click on picture to enlarge.

Returning to Honnigsvåg for the night, I was welcomed by a full hundred people-strong marching band all smiles in the town’s main (and only) street. Yes, today is a day to celebrate as we’ve reached one of the two extreme points of the European saga. But it’s far from the end. Tomorrow we are headed to the Russian border… Stay tuned!

More photos below.

(more…)

USA November 2016: Incentives revive annual record hopes

gmc-acadia-usa-november-2016-picture-courtesy-caranddriver-comGeneral Motors gains 10% in November, with the GMC Acadia up 35%. Pictures caranddriver.com

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 285 models by clicking on the title *

It’s a nice surprise this month for the U.S. new light vehicle market. After three consecutive months of decline and just as most analysts (including myself) had given up on the hope of a seventh consecutive year of gains – it would a century first (up nine years up to 1917) – and a second consecutive annual record, November sales rally back up 3.7% to 1.380.558 units on the back of very generous incentives and two additional selling days. This a new November record, with the previous best dating back to 2001 at 1.328 million. The year-to-date tally is back into positive territory – just – at +0.1% to 15.859.922 vs. 15.839.783 a year ago. The seasonally adjusted, annualised sales rate (SAAR) is strong however down 1.1% year-on-year to 17.83 million vs. 18.07 a year ago and 17.98 in October.

bmw-3-series-usa-november-2016-picture-courtesy-caranddriver-comDespite the largest incentives on the market, the BMW Group is down 16%.

The elephant in the room is the record level of incentives which is almost entirely fuelling the current market growth, with Ford even warning against this artificially-boosted sales environment a couple of days ago. Average incentives per vehicle skyrocket up 13% vs. November 2015 to $3.475 according to TrueCar. Only Daimler has cut on incentives at -4% year-on-year to $4.660 but all other manufacturers have increased them. The most generous are BMW at $6.279 (+25%), General Motors at $4.305 (+13%), Nissan at $4.209 (+13%), FCA at $4.154 (+18%), Ford at $3.982 (+23%) and Volkswagen Group at $3.751 (+6%). Below average are Kia at $3.164 (+6%), Hyundai at $2.468 (+13%), Toyota at $2.420 (+3%), Honda at $1.936 (+6%) and Subaru at $1.145 (+100%).

Ford F-Series USA November 2016. Picture courtesy youtube.comThe Ford F-Series is up 11% vs. +1% for the Chevy Silverado and +8% for the Ram Pickup

According to Automotive News, GM cut $10.000 on some Chevrolet Silverado and Suburban while Hyundai cut prices on 2016 car models by 21% to 40%. The good news is incentives are down 1.4% from October. Once again, low gasoline prices spur light truck sales up 8.5% to 849.450 whereas passenger cars drop 3.1% to 531.108, bringing the truck/car ratio to 62/38. Year-to-date, these figures at +7.1%, -8.4% and 59/41. Out of the 49.500 additional vehicles sold this month vs. November 2016, there was 43.000 additional crossovers, 25.000 additional pickups, 10.000 additional SUVs but 17.000 less cars. In the detail, Pickup trucks are up 13%, crossovers up 12% and SUVs up 10%.

audi-a4-usa-november-2016-picture-courtesy-caranddriver-comFirst year-on-year gains in 12 months for the Volkswagen Group, 85th consecutive gains for Audi.

General Motors posts the largest increase in the Top Seven and its largest so far this year at +10% to 252.644 deliveries, with retail sales up 8% to 197.609 and rental deliveries up a whopping 27%, translating into a 16% gain at Buick 14% at Cadillac and GMC and 8% at Chevrolet. Toyota Motor also has its biggest lift of 2016 at +4% to 197.645, climbing to #2 for the first time this year. Ford Motor ends a four-month negative trend by rising 5% to 196.441 thanks notably to a 19% up at Lincoln. Ford retail sales are up 10% while fleet shipments at down 9%. If Honda Motor (+6%), Nissan Motor (+7.5%) and Hyundai-Kia (+9%) all outpace the market, FCA falls flat at -9% and is the only large group to lose ground due to drastically reduced fleet volumes (-42%) while retail sales are down 2%. Former golden child Jeep (-12%), Fiat (-14%), Dodge (-21%) and Chrysler (-47%) all falling heavily with Ram (+12%) the only brand remaining afloat.

Subaru Outback USA November 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comSubaru celebrates its 60th consecutive month of year-on-year gains in the U.S.

Off a very low base in November 2015, Volkswagen Group ends twelve consecutive months of decline at +16% to 52.690 units, with the Volkswagen and Porsche brands both up 24% and Audi up 3% to extend its winning streak to 85 consecutive months. Subaru for its part marks the 60th consecutive month of gains at +11% to a November record 51.308. Mercedes has all but secured the #1 luxury spot with 338.670 sales so far this year including commercials, vs 290.046 for Lexus (-4%), 280.339 for BMW (-10%) and 187.018 for Audi (+3%). Among smaller brands, Maserati is up 27%, Tesla up 46%, Ferrari up 86%, Bentley up 106% and Jaguar up 217%.

Jaguar F-Pace USA November 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comJaguar gains 217% thanks mainly to the F-Pace, its new U.S. best-seller.

Over in the models aisle, the Ford F-Series remains the most popular vehicle in the United States in November and by a large margin thanks to sales up 11% to 72.089 vs. just +1% to 45.280 for the Chevrolet Silverado and +8% to 36.885 for the Ram Pickup. The Toyota Camry is up to #4 despite a 9% drop and the Toyota RAV4 is the best-selling crossover at 28.116 sales (+3%), distancing the Nissan Rogue at 26.629 (+18%) and YTD leader Honda CR-V at 25.758 (-1%). Boosted by doubling incentives, the Toyota Highlander soars 67% to a record 13th place. The Ford Explorer (+18%), Chevrolet Malibu (+72%), Subaru Outback (+16%), Ford Edge (+32%), Jeep Renegade (+30%) and GMC Acadia (+35%) are among the largest gains inside the Top 50.

toyota-highlander-usa-november-2016-picture-courtesy-caranddriver-comThe Toyota Highlander leaps to a record 13th place helped by generous incentives. 

Among recent launches, the Chrysler Pacifica returns inside the Top 50 at #46, the Cadillac XT5 gains five spots on October to #78, as does the Tesla Model X at #145 but the Buick Envision is down 14 to #149. The Lincoln Continental continues to gear up at 1.419 sales and #170, the Volvo S90 is up 27 ranks to #205 and the Genesis G90 is up 28 to #235. No new nameplate enters the ranking in November: although at record levels, the U.S. market remains markedly less dynamic than its Chinese counterpart where six to eight locally-produced newcomers maker their entry each month.

Previous month: USA October 2016: Record year now unlikely as market drops again

One year ago: USA November 2015: Volkswagen crumbles down 25%

Full November 2016 Top 40 brands and Top 285 models below.

(more…)

Germany November 2016: Mercedes hits high point at 10.3% share

Mercedes E Class Germany November 2016The view from the luxury competition: Mercedes snaps 10.3% of the German market.

* See the Top 50 All-brands and Top 315 All-models by clicking on the title *

New car sales in Germany are up 1.5% year-on-year to 276.567 units, with the year-to-date tally now up 4.6% to 3.095.074 deliveries with just one month to go in 2016. Volkswagen continues to deliver paltry performances at -7% to a still vastly dominant, however, 19.5% share. Mercedes takes a definitive advantage over its luxury rivals thanks to sales up 6% to 10.3% share, according to BSCB files the highest market share hit by the brand in Germany in at least 6 years – and potentially ever – and only the second time it breaks the 10% barrier after last August. Mercedes distances BMW at 8% (+8%) and Audi at 7.4% (-6%). Below, Opel (+2%), Ford (-5%) and Skoda (-1%) all disappoint, whereas Renault, up 17% thanks to the Mégane up 165% and Seat, up 33% thanks to the Leon up to #13 and the Ateca breaking into the Top 50 at #44, both impress. Further down, outstanding performers include Peugeot (+16%) thanks to the new 2008 and 3008, Volvo (+20%) thanks to the S/V90, Porsche (+24%) thanks to the Cayenne up 58%, Suzuki (+29%) thanks to the Vitara, Alfa Romeo (+80%) thanks to the Giulia, Infiniti (+112%) thanks to the Q30, Maserati (+114%) thanks to the Levante and Jaguar (+115%) thanks to the F-Pace.

toyota-c-hr-germany-november-2016The Toyota C-HR has landed in Germany. 

The VW Golf remains by far the most popular nameplate in the country despite sales dropping 16%, ahead of the Polo (+13%) and Passat (-28%) while the Mercedes C-Class is up two spots on October to land at #4 above the VW Tiguan already slowing down its new generation-induced growth (+24%). The Opel Astra does the same at a timid +15% in 6th place but the Mercedes E-Class soars 29% to break into the Top 10. Notice also the Audi A4 up 35%, the Renault Clio up 40%, BMW X1 up 64%, Skoda Superb up 42% and Hyundai i20 up 61%. Among recent launches, The Audi Q2 is up 29 spots to end November 50 sales off its first Top 100 ranking at #101 and the Ford Edge gains 32 ranks to #124. This month we welcome three all-new nameplates in the German charts: the Toyota C-HR lands directly at #138, the Suzuki Ignis arrives at #249 and the Nissan NV300 at #266.

Previous month: Germany October 2016: Volkswagen drops 20% but monopolises Top 4

One year ago: Germany November 2015: Volkswagen Group resists, 2 Skodas in Top 8

Full November 2016 Top 50 All-brands and Top 315 All-models below.

(more…)