Bosnia & Herzegovina October 2015: Renault Clio triumphs

Renault Clio Bosnia October 2015. Picture courtesy largus.frThe Renault Clio holds 15% of the Bosnian new car market in October.

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

Thanks to Central European market data specialists, we can share with you today the latest available data for Bosnia & Herzegovina, a market up a very dynamic 19% year-on-year in October to 686 registrations, lifting the year-to-date total to 5.776 units, up 4% on 2014. Coming from outside the September Top 10 but now ranking 5th year-to-date, the Renault Clio shoots up to the Bosnian pole position this month thanks to 103 sales for a whopping 15% market share. That’s more than double the #2, the Skoda Octavia at 7.4% and still leader year-to-date at 6.5% share. The VW Golf, Toyota Yaris and VW Passat follow while the Hyundai Tucson breaks into the Top 10 for the first time at #8.

Previous month: Bosnia & Herzegovina September 2015: Top 5 is 100% Volkswagen Group

One year ago: Bosnia & Herzegovina October 2014: Audi Q5 in Top 10

Full October 2015 Top 10 models Ranking Table below.


Moldova October 2015: Hyundai Tucson and VW Passat tie for #1

Hyundai Tucson Moldova October 2015The Hyundai Tucson is the best-selling vehicle in Moldova in October.

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

Based on data published by Central European market data specialists CE Auto, new car sales in Moldova are down a harsh 59% year-on-year to 292, due to an October 2014 figure artificially boosted by fleet sales. The year-to-date total is down 28% to 2.843 units. Big surprise atop the models ranking this month: it’s not the perennial leader the Dacia Logan, down to #6 with just 11 sales, but the Hyundai Tucson and VW Passat holding the top spot, albeit only 18 units were enough to achieve this feat. The Suzuki Vitara remains 4th and the BMW X5 reappears at #10.

Previous month: Moldova September 2015: Hyundai Tucson soars to 2nd place

One year ago: Moldova October 2014: Dacia Logan at 31%, Porsche Cayenne in Top 10

Full October 2015 Top 10 models Ranking Table below.


Rep of Macedonia September 2015: Dacia Duster takes charge

Dacia Duster Czech Republic 2014. Picture courtesy of autobild.deThe Dacia Duster holds over 10% market share in the Republic of Macedonia in September.

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

Thanks to Central European market data specialists, we can share with you September data for the Republic of Macedonia. 484 new cars found a buyer this month, adding up to 3.863 year-to-date. The Dacia Duster takes charge with almost double the sales of any other nameplate and 10.5% market share. The Ford Fiesta follows at 5.4% while the Hyundai ix35 rounds up the podium but remains in the lead so far in 2015. Notice also Peugeot placing both the 308 (#5) and 301 (#8) inside the Macedonian Top 10 and the Seat Leon making a rare appearance at #9.

Previous post: Rep of Macedonia May-June 2015: Citroen C-Elysée impresses

Full September 2015 Top 10 models below.


Thailand October 2015: New Mitsubishi Pajero Sport jumps to 4th place

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Thailand October 2015Dealership deliveries of the new generation lift the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport to #4.

* See the Top 20 best-selling brands and Top 50 models by clicking on the title *

October new car sales in Thailand are up 10% on September to 67.910 registrations, the second largest monthly volume in 2015 below March (74.117), but still down 4% on October 2014. The year-to-date total now stands at 624.682 units, down 13% on the same period in 2014. Toyota and Isuzu still dominate the brands ranking as usual but drop faster than the market –  both at -14% – to stand at 33.9% and 15.8% share respectively vs. 34% and 18% so far in 2015. Honda is unaffected with sales up 10% year-on-year to 14.3% share thanks to very strong performances of the HR-V (#8) and Jazz (#10). Mitsubishi is the winner of the month with sales up a whopping 26% to 6.341 and 9.3% share, mainly due to dealership deliveries of the all-new Pajero Sport shooting up from outside the September Top 50 directly to 4th place overall with 3.289 sales. November data will show the normalised sales potential for this new strikingly designed and locally-produced SUV that goes full-frontal against the Toyota Fortuner.

Ford Everest Thailand October 2015Ford Everest

Other manufacturers to shine this month in Thailand include Ford (+21%), Mazda (+10%), Chevrolet (+8%), Suzuki (+11%) and Subaru (+58%). Over on the models ranking, the Toyota Hilux (-19%) and Isuzu D-Max (-13%) are muted, the Toyota Fortuner drops from a record 7.4% share in September to 6.3% this month, now threatened by the all-new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (4.8%). The Toyota Vios is the most popular of only four passenger cars in the Top 10 at 2.967 units (-33%) above the Toyota Yaris (-35%), Honda City (-16%) and Jazz (+7%). The Ford Everest reaches a new volume high at 936 units in 17th place, the Honda CR-V is up 63% year-on-year to #22, the MG 3 drops two spots but remains inside the Thai Top 30 for the 2nd month running at #29 while the MG 6 breaks into the Top 50 at #50.

Previous month: Thailand September 2015: Toyota Fortuner in unchartered territory

One year ago: Thailand October 2014: Toyota Vios, Nissan Navara up

Full October 2015 Top 20 brands and Top 50 models below.


Media post: Avoid a car breakdown this winter

8641983-Winter-car-breakdown-woman-try-to-repair-motor-Stock-Photo-snow. Picture courtesy 123rf.comjpg

With winter here, conditions on the roads will worsen, making journeys more difficult and putting increased wear and tear on your car. Particularly for you daily commuters, driving in a winter wonderland doesn’t have to be driving in a winter ‘worryland’ as there’s much you can do to avoid a winter car breakdown, whatever your car’s age. So, it’s time to get proactive, before the weather beats you to it, and stay one step ahead by following advice from the experts.

There’s some sound recommendations on GEM Motoring Assistand the article outlines 5 simple steps to avoid the winter driving blues. It’s easy to follow and will be as good for your car’s health as your 5-a-day fruit and vegetables are good for you.

Generally, it’s important to take care of the following:

Top of the list to prevent a winter breakdown has to be getting your battery checked. All batteries go through extra strain in cold, wet weather and probably won’t survive from the daily bashing they’ll receive if they’re not in peak condition. Battery failure is one of the biggest causes of winter breakdowns and you’re likely not to get off the drive in the morning if your battery is below par! Worse still, you might get stranded somewhere away from home when it’s cold and dark and your battery is as flat as a pancake. Yes, you can always call out the breakdown truck but remember that, in winter, they’re probably very busy attending to other unfortunate motorists just like you!

Up there with battery problems is running out of fuel. There’s a good video and follow-up article on Money Supermarketthat talks about the increased likelihood of running out of fuel in the winter, usually miles from a fuel stop. It’s potentially harder to estimate journey times and fuel consumption in the winter with traffic jams and detours caused by accidents and bad weather. So, always keep topped up with fuel way before you really need to.

Servicing and antifreeze
It’s a good idea to get your car serviced regularly and certainly before the winter sets in. When you get this done, make sure that the garage has topped up your antifreeze levels. It may sound like child’s play but inadequate antifreeze can wreak havoc on your engine and cause untold damage.

It’s really important to have good strong gripping tyres in the winter too. There’ll be ice, sludge, mud and grime all over the roads and your tyres need to be able to cope with everything thrown at them, which they won’t if the tread’s not sufficiently deep. You can even get special winter tyres fitted to your vehicle to stay on the road (literally) when the weather turns nasty and your local garage will be able to advise on this.

A potential problem for motorists is main headlights (and other peripheral lights such as brake lights, indicators and fog lights) not working properly either because of faulty bulbs or through an electrical fault. So, get all your lights checked and make sure everything’s working properly – you know it makes sense!

To maximise visibility in poor weather conditions, having a clear windscreen is critical, both inside if the windows are misted up or icy and, of course, outside. Don’t set off until your inside windows are fully clear. When you do move away, you’ll need your wipers to be at their most efficient when driving in heavy rain or when mud and dirty water get thrown up onto your windscreen by vehicles in front of you. Keep your washer bottle filled as nothing’s worse than having a smeary windscreen causing you to struggle to see the road ahead and your washer bottle is empty.

Your wipers need to be at their best so get the blades checked, or even renewed, to reduce the risk of them splitting and becoming inefficient. Also, have the brackets and fixings checked to minimise the risk of mechanical failure.

Being prepared
As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed and, for those who were in the Guides or Scouts, the motto ‘Be prepared’ has a lot of truth in it when it comes to winter driving. Finally, it could be that, despite all your best efforts, it’s not always possible to avoid a winter breakdown, so ensure that you carry essentials such as drinks, snacks, blankets and extra clothing as well as your mobile phone and car charger. Don’t forget to keep your fuel levels high because, if you get stuck, you’ll be able to warm the car for longer by keeping the engine running while waiting for the mechanic/tow truck.

Guangzhou Auto Show 2015: The highlights

Happy Audi fanHappy Audi fan at the Guangzhou Auto Show – November 2015.

** Click on any image to enlarge it **

An ever more precise coverage of the Chinese auto market goes hand-in-hand with BSCB’s attendance at the local Auto Shows, a little off the beaten tracks. For the first time I was lucky enough to attend Guangzhou Auto Show. Needless to say I was one of a tiny contingent of Western press present here. Witnessing the behaviour of local carmakers at a Show almost exclusively dedicated to the local press and customers is a great opportunity to find out what they’re up to “when no one is watching” so to speak – on the world stage that is… I’ve summarised the 12 things you need to know about the Show below.

Guangzhou Auto Show 2

1. This is not a small Auto Show

Guangzhou Auto Show may be secondary in China to the Beijing and Shanghai Shows alternating each year in April, yet by Western standards this is a large Auto Show, housed at the China Import and Export Fair in Pazhou. There were a total of thirteen exhibition halls on two levels with Chinese carmakers allocated roughly one third of the entire space, plus numerous outdoor stands, putting Guangzhou almost at the same level as Paris in terms of surface allocated to the Show…

Guangzhou Auto Show

Hyundai Elantra

2. Glamour is back

Banned from the latest Shanghai Auto Show, starlets are back in force in Guangzhou, adding that bit of spice some Chinese carmakers desperately need to make their range look a lot sexier… I was also able to attend the first day open to the public, and it was a song and dance competition between all manufacturers to try and grab the attention of the numerous visitors. Volkswagen had a mildly impressive dance show, BAIC featured a rather naively choreographed dance, but the winner in this contest hands down was, surprisingly, JAC, with a very glamorous catwalk indeed.

JAC fashion showJAC went all out with dozens of models on stage.

BAIC danceBAIC song and dance 

GAC i-Lounge ConceptGAC i-Lounge Concept

3. A chest-beating exercise for local manufacturer GAC Group

As the sole local manufacturer, the Guangzhou Auto Show is a great opportunity for GAC Group to show off. And so it did, booking an entire exhibition hall to itself, including in it its joint-ventures with Honda and Toyota. GAC unveiled two concept cars: the EV Coupe hatch and the lavish i-Lounge luxury MPV with an impressive and finally rather attractive grille. It was also an opportunity for me to check the quality of the manufacturer’s instant blockbuster: the Trumpchi GS4 which sold over 20.000 units in October alone. And the quality is here: the interior is refined with a modern designs and the exterior has nothing to be ashamed of compared to its Japanese and Korean competitors. GAC is ready to export in my eyes.

GAC EV Coupe ConceptGAC EV Coupe Concept

Haval H6 one millionThe Haval H6 no. 1.000.000 was on show at Guangzhou

4. Haval celebrates one million H6 sold

After topping my “most impressive Chinese carmakers” list both in Beijing 2014 and Shanghai 2015, Great Wall’s SUV-exclusive brand Haval is taking a breather in Guangzhou, with no new models exhibited. All is forgiven, after Haval revealed an avalanche of new products just six months ago in Shanghai. The Concept B and R (for Blue and Red) are here again, and the Haval stand is split in two with blue-logo’ed models on the right and red-logo’d ones on the left. On stage, the one millionth Haval H6 sold worldwide is showcased, a stunning achievement for the Chinese manufacturer.

Haval H6 CoupeSuit-and-tie ambiance on the Haval stand.

Haval impresses again with a plush atmosphere and distances itself from all other manufacturers at the Show by deliberately choosing a “smart SUV” positioning: absolutely all models displayed apart the two concepts were brown with suit-and-tie attire all round for the hosts. No starlets to be seen anywhere. Haval wants to be taken seriously, and it managed it today, again.

Haval H8Fun outdoor Haval stand

But my favourite part of the Haval display in Guangzhou was outdoors: while nearby BYD was pumping the loudest music but wasn’t doing much on its stand, Haval very generously allowed a constant flow of journalists or public to board either an H8 or H9 and go through a 4WD “skills” circuit, driven around by professionals. It cleverly enhanced the two models’ four-wheel-drive and acrobatic abilities and was in line with the seriousness and professionalism displayed inside the exhibition hall. Once again, well done Haval.

DS 4SThe all-new DS 4S hatch: not what DS needs to lift its sales in China. 

5. DS and Qoros continue to pump money into new launches

At 1.334 deliveries for DS and 1.403 for Qoros in October or 0.07% market share each, these two brands are stuck at minuscule sales levels in China. Yet PSA Peugeot-Citroen and the Chery-Israel Corporation joint-venture both keep pumping millions of dollars into new launches. Just as the Chinese SUV market cannot be hotter and consumers are migrating en masse from sedans to crossovers, DS is launching the 4S hatchback… Exactly the model the DS range needed to see its sales take off. Not! Chery is a little smarter with the Qoros 5 SUV that has a definite air of Range Rover Evoque. Like the previous 3 hatch, sedan and SUV, the Qoros 5 is looking and feeling good, robust and solid, but will sales follow? The answer by mid-2016.

Qoros 5 SUVThe 5 SUV: the key to unlock Qoros?

Chery Arrizo 5Chery Arrizo 5 

6. Chery Arrizo 5, ChangAn CS15, BYD Yuan and Dongfeng AX7 launch

Although much smaller than in Shanghai, the number of new launches in the Chinese manufacturers’ aisle was still significant in Guangzhou. Unsurprisingly, an overwhelming majority were SUVs. A notable exception was Chery, unveiling the surprisingly handsome Arrizo 5 compact sedan. Cleverly, Chery has restricted its models on display to its slightly more upmarket Arrizo range (3, 5 and 7) and Tiggo SUV range (3 and 5). Keep it this way Chery, it somehow is a little clearer now. ChangAn revealed a mini-crossover, the CS15, yet impossible to sit inside so I won’t be able to let you know whether it is closer in quality to the CS35 (low) or the CS75 (good).

Changan CS15ChangAn CS15

Dongfeng is catching on the SUV bandwagon with a station wagon-looking AX7, BYD unveiled the hybrid Yuan, its smallest SUV yet, and Jinbei had the S35 in store for us. Interestingly, Brilliance only had the V3 and V5 SUVs as well as the H330 sedan on its stand, having all but given up on selling sedans at home in China. A good choice. Last but not least, on the SAIC stand we could see the MG brand logo subtitled with “My Glamour”. It’s the first time I see this – it may have appeared before but I had not noticed. Where has “Morris Garages” gone?

Wuling Hongguang S1The all-new Wuling Hongguang S1

7. MPVs are not dead

Even though sales of the MPV segment have lost a bit of steam over the past six months, the segment is as dynamic as ever as evidenced in Guangzhou. SAIC-GM Wuling was proudly showing off the redesigned Hongguang S1, now looking very much similar to its more up-market sibling the Baojun 730. The Wuling stand was capped with a giant screen showing, among other ads, a striking and aspiring Baojun brand video that featured various landscapes and peoples of China. I have yet to find it online but will post it as soon as I do.

Lifan Lotto SLifan Lotto S: I see what you’re doing here…

The other interesting MPV news came from Lifan, presenting a top-spec, brown-coloured Lotto S with a rather appealing interior – at least more appealing than all Lifan models presented bar the 820. Same colour, same “luxury” trim: Lifan is doing a Wuling Hongguang S on us, and it might very well work.

BAIC Senova X55BAIC has decided to push the Senova sub-brand on its SUV range…

8. Chinese branding shenanigans

The adventures in branding of Chinese manufacturers are always entertaining to follow, and this year’s Guangzhou Auto Show is no exception. BAIC Motor is clearly struggling with taking pride in its own brand, and is trying different ways to push a couple of sub-brands up. First is Senova, with the X25 SUV recently launching in market and the X45 soon-to-follow, all positioned below the existing X55. Even though the grille features a BAIC logo, the back of all SUVs present at the show had the sub-brand “Senova” displayed in big letters, exactly like GAC is doing with its Trumpchi sub-brand. Fair, but BAIC is operating completely differently with its Huansu sub-brand…

BAIC Huansu H3…while the Huansu sub-brand has its own logo.

…this time giving it a full-blown different logo on the grille as pictured on the Huansu H3 MPV above. No sign of the Huansu sub-brand on the back of the car, even on the new Huansu S6 SUV displayed on the BAIC stand. Changhe for its part remains a separate brand with a separate logo yet twin models: the Changhe Q25 is none other than a rebadged BAIC Senova X25. Confusing much? Finally, Geely is doing almost everything right once again with a posh stand and significantly more refined models than in recent past – Volvo-designed GC9 sedan I’m talking about you – yet they still displayed a GX7 SUV with a Gleagle logo, a brand they killed almost two years ago (see below)!

Leaherd 1 Picture 2Leahead i1. Toyota what have you done?

8. Toyota goes astray with its new Leahead EV brand

Originally unveiled as a concept at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, with the Leahead i1 – based on the previous generation Toyota Yaris hatchback – the GAC-Toyota joint-venture shows us what the Chinese government is forcing them to do: cheap EV cars. The interior looks and feels cheaper than almost every car present at the Guangzhou Auto Show, actually damaging the brand reputation of Toyota as far as I am concerned. Quick Toyota, go hide this Leahead i10 far, far away from me right now.

Leaherd logo

Renault KadjarThe Renault Kadjar was officially presented to the Chinese press in Guangzhou.

9. Renault gearing up towards local production kick-start

In Guangzhou Renault officially unveiled the Kadjar SUV, already a success in Europe and the first vehicle it will produce in China, in a new plant in Wuhan, central China, run by Renault’s joint venture with Dongfeng. The Kadjar is due to hit Chinese dealerships in March 2016, before Renault adds the Koleos SUV, currently its best-seller in the country but imported only, towards the end of 2016. Renault sold 34.000 imported vehicles in 2014 and has a production capacity of 150.000 annual vehicles in Wuhan. The marketing push was clear and strong in Guangzhou, with giant banners above the road next to the venue, and a stand featuring Formula 1 and sporty Megane RS to give the brand a faster edge. We’ll have to wait the end of 2016 for the true verdict: sales.

Renault bannerGiant Renault banner in front of the Guangzhou – China Import and Export Fair

Nissan Show Young

10. Nissan is moving ahead with a very literal youth campaign

At this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, Nissan was all about attracting younger consumers through its new China-only Lannia sedan. They are now following through on their promise with a very literal advertising campaign “Show Young” that includes the Lannia, Murano and Qashqai. That’s because at long last, over two years after its worldwide launch the new generation Qashqai is finally available in China, now sitting alongside the X-Trail, Murano and Patrol in a Nissan SUV range that is starting to look mighty indeed.

Nissan QashqaiThe current generation Nissan Qashqai is finally available in China.

Honda Greiz

11. Honda launches a second China-only nameplate: the Greiz

Building on the tremendous success of the CRider – especially here in Guangzhou as I will detail in a Photo Report of the cars in town – Honda launched the all-new Greiz in Guangzhou. Manufactured by the Dongfeng-Honda joint-ventured, it’s actually not that all-new, as the Greiz is in fact a sporty version of the City, whose new generation also launched in Guangzhou and is manufactured by the other joint-venture the Japanese manufacturer has set up in China: with GAC Group. Honda had already done a similar move with the twin crossovers Honda XR-V (Dongfeng) and Vezel (GAC). Toyota also has done the same with the current generation Corolla (FAW) and Levin (GAC).

Volkswagen standFittingly, Volkswagen had the largest stand of all manufacturers at the Show.

12. Volkswagen is not loosening its focus on China

Following the diesel scandal that seems never-ending and ever-expanding, Volkswagen has already shown it will not loosen its focus on China, exempting a planned investment of 30 billion yuan in China from a worldwide cost-cutting campaign. That’s because Volkswagen’s worldwide profits heavily depends on China, by far its biggest cash cow in the world as I detailed in my series STRATEGY: Why Volkswagen is losing foot in China. The situation will only lean further towards China as profits in Europe and the U.S. are under intense threat following the scandal. In Guangzhou, the German carmaker had the largest stand of all carmakers present at the Show and unveiled nothing less than the new Lavida, its best-seller in the country. A lot more modern outside but still very boring inside, the new Lavida will nevertheless convince the Chinese masses as the previous generations of the nameplate have before it. On the public day I attended, the VAG Group exhibition hall was packed to the rafters, especially the ever-aspiring Audi stand. On a final note, Skoda has launched a new marketing line in China –  “Since 1895″  – that positions it even further away from the value-for-money box it currently masters in Europe.

Saudi Arabia September 2015: Toyota Hilux sovereign

Toyota Hilux Saudi Arabia September 2015. Picture courtesy Toyota FlickrThe Toyota Hilux keeps its crown in Saudi Arabia (1979 and 2015 models pictured).

* See the Top 25 best-selling brands and Top 100 models below.

After the UAE we are now able to share with you rare sales data for Saudi Arabia in September (72.796 sales) and year-to-date (660.886). Toyota celebrates 60 years of presence in Saudi Arabia by crossing the 40% market share milestone in September vs. 34.3% year-to-date. It is followed by Hyundai (16.5%), Nissan (7.5%) outpacing Kia and Ford, both at 6.2%. Add Chevrolet (3.6%) and Isuzu (3.4%) and you have 83.5% of the Saudi market in September, with no other manufacturer selling over 1.500 units or holding more than 2% market share. Compared to our previous updates, we can now see detailed sales data for Renault Samsung (#10) frankly outselling its parent company (#16), Geely leading the Chinese at #18, Porsche at #20 in-between BMW and Mercedes, and outside the Top 25 let’s single out Chinese carmakers MG (#28) and GAC Gonow (#34).

Toyota 60 years Saudi ArabiaToyota celebrates 60 years in Saudi Arabia (here in the early eighties).

Nissan Patrol Saudi Arabia September 2015Nissan Patrol (pictured in Dubai)

Logically, Toyota places no less than seven nameplates inside the September Top 10 models. The Hilux is sovereign, boosted even further up by the new generation to 10.3% share vs. 6.8% so far this year. The Hyundai Accent (5.7%) and Elantra (5.6%) impressively outmanoeuvre both this month and year-to-date the perennial passenger car leader the Toyota Corolla (5.2%), itself under threat by its smaller sibling the Toyota Yaris (5%). The Land Cruiser (#6) improves vastly on its FY2014 ranking (#14) as does its Pickup variant at #9 vs. #23. The Fortuner makes it to the Top 10, just. Notice also the Nissan Patrol shooting up to #13, the Nissan X-Trail appears at #51, the Geely Emgrand EC7 leads all Chinese nameplates at #60 and the Volvo XC90 is up to #68 thanks to the new model. Complete rankings are below.

Previous post: GCC 1st Half 2015: All Toyota models data now available (BSCB Exclusive)

Previous year: Saudi Arabia Full Year 2014: Toyota Hilux #1, Yaris in Top 5

Full October 2015 Top 25 brands and Top 100 models below.

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United Arab Emirates September 2015: Toyota Land Cruiser 200 on top

Toyota Land Cruiser 200 UAE September 2015The Toyota Land Cruiser 200 reclaims the UAE Top spot off the Toyota Hilux in 2015.

* See the Top 20 best-selling brands and Top 50 models by clicking on the title *

A rare treat: UAE returns to BSCB with a Top 20 brands and Top 50 models for September (41.410 sales) and year-to-date (414.637). Toyota holds almost one-third of the market this month at 31.7%, followed by Nissan and Mitsubishi both well above their respective year-to-date at 17.1% and 11.3%. Reversely, Hyundai, BMW, Kia, Ford and Lexus are all a notch below and round up the Top 8.

Mitsubishi Pajero UAE September 2015The Mitsubishi Pajero ranks 6th in the UAE this month.

Model-wise, after losing to the Toyota Hilux in 2014, the Toyota Land Cruiser 200, helped by its facelift, reclaims its title this year, even breaking the symbolic 10% market share milestone this month. The Hilux, also boosted by a new model, excels too at 8.1% share in September vs. 4.7% year-to-date even though it is trailing the Land Cruiser so far this year. Similarly impressive from the Nissan Patrol at #3, Toyota Land Cruiser 70 at #4, Mitsubishi Lancer at #5 and Pajero at #6. Notice also the Nissan Patrol Pickup leaping to #13 vs. #32 year-to-date, the Jeep Grand Cherokee up to #21 and the Volvo XC90 shooting up to #26 vs. #84 so far this year thanks to the new generation.

Previous post: Gulf 1st Half 2015: All Toyota models data now available (BSCB Exclusive)

Previous year: UAE Full Year 2014: Toyota Hilux overtakes Prado

Full September 2015 Top 20 brands and Top 50 models below.

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U. S. North to South: Seattle WA and Portland OR, welcoming Bob

1. Bob Seattle 3Bob will be my ride for the next three weeks. 

If you thought I got lost somewhere in southern Alaska, you thought wrong! After last stopping in Ketchikan Alaska, we are now hitting Seattle in Washington state and for the remaining part of this U.S. North to South series I have the privilege to drive a 2015 Ram 2500 Tradesman Crew Cab 4×4 Turbo Diesel. I baptised last year’s Ram 1500 Albert, and this year I will follow the letters of the alphabet, just like for hurricanes. My ride for this U.S. North to South drive will be named Bob. First impressions below, where we also elucidate the mystery of Ford Seattle license plates 2.000 miles up north in Barrow, Alaska…

2. Bob Seattle 4

But first, I hear you ask: why a male nickname? Here’s the thing: in France where I am from, everything is sexualised (nothing new here) and everything has a gender. Trucks, including pickups, are male, while passenger cars are female. So even though I have now called Australia home for thirteen years, naming my truck Barbara is just wrong, very wrong to me. So Bob it is. This Ram 2500 Tradesman Crew Cab 4×4 8′ Box Turbo Diesel retails for $48.565.

Bob is a Heavy Duty Turbo Diesel

A little bit over a year ago when I took the wheel of Albert the Ram 1500, I was surprised at how car-like nimble it was. Bob is a whole different story altogether. Even though it is part of the same family of pickups and counted together in the monthly sales charts, stepping up from a Ram 1500 to a Ram 2500 is exactly like going from a car to a truck. Last year I would have liked Albert to sound more manly: as astoundingly frugal as it was (I reached 30 mpg), the 3.0L Ecodiesel did not sound like I was driving an actual truck. With its 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel engine, Bob is every bit of the truck I had always dreamt of driving across the United States. Sounds like a truck, and feels like a truck to drive too.

3. Bob Gearbox

Being European I am used to handling manual gearboxes, I have done so all my life to the point where automatic feels eerily unnatural to me. Here too Bob is a step-up though. Contrasting with the automatic rotary shifter featured on the Ram 1500, Bob’s manual lever is gigantic and lodged on the dashboard – not the floor – feeling like a good old-fashioned truck – or bus for that matter. Giving away its primary function as workhorse, Bob’s first three gears are very short, making for interesting starts at red lights and a full contrast to the Tesla Model S I drove earlier this year!

4. Bob Seattle 2

Bob sits very high on its wheels, requiring a windshield-side handle and muscled legs to jump in. Its 8′ box makes it a longer vehicle than most in the city, so I feel taller and bigger, and I also take a lot more space on the road. All this combines very nicely to give a quintessential U.S. truck experience. It took me a day to get used to his little quirks, but Bob and I are now ready to roll! First stop: downtown Seattle. Navigating this monster in the (very) steep and narrow Seattle streets is a baptism-by-fire akin to my Manhattan experience with Albert last year. Parking on the street is no option: there are no (free) parking spots large enough. My only way out was the outdoor oversize section of an underground parking lot. Full-size pickup trucks are definitely frowned upon in green-obsessed Seattle…

5. Seattle Chowder queueOnly in Seattle: two hour-queue for a chowder.

5. Seattle Elephant Garlic

Now onto Seattle as a city. I had no expectations, but wasn’t thrilled either. Healthily grounded after two full weeks spent in mostly remote Alaska, I was somehow looking forward to a more “sophisticated” experience for lack of a better word. But the town’s crowd of latte-sipping hipsters, suit-wearing buskers and queue-making chowder-eaters have left me unimpressed. Pike Place Market is a must-see but nothing out of the ordinary for a Frenchman. It was however nice to enter the very first Starbucks coffeeshop ever built, located nearby. I think it’s time to hit the road.

4. Toyota Prius Taxi SeattleToyota Prius Taxi in Seattle 

But before we do so, a word on the best-selling cars in Washington state (See all the sales figures for the ten states visited here). With Seattle as the main population hub, it’s a passenger car-dominated state with the Top 3 sellers belonging to that segment: the Toyota Camry, Corolla and Subaru Outback. Although less prominent than in Alaska, the Subaru craze is still raging here indeed, as is the case the entire Northwestern part of the United States. A healthy amount of privately-owned Subaru Outbacks can be spotted all through town and outside as I witnessed during a day trip to Snoqualmie Falls. In fact, the best-selling “light truck” in WA and 4th overall is the Subaru Forester, outselling the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado in a rare achievement.

6. Toyota Prius SeattlePike Place Market in Seattle

Seattle is the kingdom of eco-friendly cars. The tone is given as soon as we leave the airport with a Tesla depot in full view housing dozens of Model S awaiting delivery. A multitude of Toyota Prius can be seen streaming along its streets, with the majority of the town’s taxis being Priuses too. All recent launches in the category are well represented, including the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and three BMW i3 spotted in a matter of hours.

7. Ford F-150 Seattle2015 Ford F-150 in Snoqualmie Falls.

Compared to Alaska, the car and truck landscape is definitely newer: there are no more old F-Series on the roads while they are still legion up north: I only spotted one 1980s model in two days. I also saw my first Scion iA and new generation Hyundai Tucson of the trip. On this last point, Hyundai is grabbing a much higher market share on the Washington car market than it was in Alaska, with a constant flow of Elantras (#4 passenger car here so far in 2015) gracing the Seattle roads.

8. Chrysler 200 SeattleChrysler 200 in Seattle

Seattle may be green, yet it is still socially awkward: while the traffic was at a standstill for miles on all lanes of the highway on the way back from Snoqualmie Falls, the two-people vehicle lane was totally empty…

11. Plymouth Seattle

Just miles south of Seattle in Renton near the Seattle Tacoma airport, I was able to elucidate a mystery I mentioned while still in Barrow in Northern Alaska. There I spotted a number of Fords with a Sound Ford license plate. According to the Sound Ford website, it is about to celebrate 40 consecutive years as the #1 Volume Ford dealer in Washington. A quick chat with Derek, salesman at Sound Ford Renton, tells us why we can find cars from this dealership all the way up northern Alaska 2.000 miles away: “Yes we do ship a lot of cars to Alaska indeed. Here around Seattle you have a dozen Ford dealers in the area, so the competition is intense. Our retail prices are much lower than what Ford is able to charge in Anchorage, Alaska. Customers purchase their cars on our website, give us instructions as to which port and barge to drive the car to, we unload the car in the barge and they pick it up in Barrow. Barge transport to Alaska costs around $1.000 and even when factoring that cost in, these customers end up saving $5.000 to $10.000 per vehicle by purchasing it here instead of in Anchorage.” It all makes sense now, and looking at the most frequent cars in Barrow I would guess a lot of Ford F-150 pickups have made the leisurely 3-week barge trip around the Bering straits, waving at Russia on the way.

10. Bob Optimus PrimeBob and Optimus Prime

It’s now time to take Bob on the road and for his first day of highway we are headed south to Portland, Oregon. On the way and thanks to a tip from fellow TTAC writer Cameron Aubernon I got Bob to meet with Optimus Prime from the latest Transformers blockbuster movie, keeping him on his toes and showing him that even though he was a monster on the road, he was still no match for the modified Mack truck…

12. Smart Fortwo PortlandSmart Fortwo in Portland

According to the Lonely Planet, Portland is “an up-and-coming destination that has finally arrived and a can’t-miss stop on your adventures in the Pacific Northwest”. Once again and I’m sorry I feel this way, but I found it to be an over-rated snobbish town. This is not what I am doing this drive for, rather big skies and National Parks. The car park in Portland however makes for interesting observations: more Smart Fortwos here than in the rest of the U.S. combined (only a slight exaggeration), Teslas Ecocab taxis and customers that have fully embraced the revived Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickups.

11. Subaru Outback PortlandFavourites in Portland: the Subaru Outback and Forester.

Looking at the official car sales figures for 2015 in Oregon, we find an eerily similar picture than that of Alaska: the overall best-seller is the Ram pickup, so Bob feels right at home, followed by the Subaru Outback, Toyota Camry and Subaru Forester. The Ford F-150 is knocked out to 4th overall, with the Toyota Tacoma at #4 light truck confirming the taste of Oregon customers for mid-sized pickups.

I won’t spend the night here but will drive a further couple of hours east to sleep in The Dalles, at the border between Washington and Oregon, in the first of many Motel 6 hotels I will stay at during this trip. The good news in this part of the country is the low gas prices: from $2.729 a gallon of diesel in Anchorage to $2.299 Seattle and $2.599 in The Dalles. That’s up to a full dollar per gallon less than what I was paying last year, and will make up for the weaker fuel economy of my Ram 2500, standing in the low twenties for now.

Next we cross Idaho to reach Glacier National Park in Montana. Stay tuned!

Bulgaria October 2015: Nissan Qashqai distances Dacia Dokker & Sandero

Nissan Qashqai Bulgaria October 2015The Nissan Qashqai is the best-selling new vehicle in Bulgaria in October.

* See the Top 30 All-brands and Top 170 All-models by clicking on the title *

The Bulgarian new car market is up an estimated 11% year-on-year in October to 2.424 registrations, lifting the year-to-date total to 23.990 units, up a robust 12% on 2014. Dacia remains the most popular manufacturer with 12.3% share above Toyota (10.5%), Renault (10%), Skoda (8.4%) and Volkswagen (8%). This month the Nissan Qashqai leapfrogs all Dacia to install itself in pole position with 5.9% share above the Dacia Dokker (4.7%) – still comfortable leader year-to-date – and Sandero (3.4%). The Renault Captur jumps back up 11 spots on September to #4, the Toyota Aygo is up 10 to #11 vs. #33 year-to-date and the Great Wall Steed 5 reappears inside the Bulgarian Top 20.

A caveat to these results is the fact that Bulgaria sales figures are skewed by re-exports to other European Union countries, with a large portion of new car sales in the country never making it to local roads – as much as 30% – thanks to Bulgaria displaying some of the lowest car prices in the EU. See here for more on this phenomenon.

Previous month: Bulgaria September 2015: Dacia Dokker leads, Toyota Corolla up to #4

One year ago: Bulgaria October 2014: Skoda Octavia shines, Dacia Dokker #1 YTD

Full October 2015 Top 30 All-brands and Top 170 All-models below.