Australia May 2017: Hilux vs. Ranger new iconic rivalry in record market

The Toyota Hilux remains the best-selling nameplate in Australia…

* See the Top 50 All-brands and Top 283 All-models by clicking on the title *

According to figures released by VFACTS, the Australian new vehicle market posts an all-time record May figure, up a sizeable 6.4% year-on-year to 102.901 units. As a result, the year-to-date tally is now down just 0.9% or 4.190 sales on the 2016 record to 465.381 units after five months and could get even next month in the case of a strong June showing. This month the growth is spread through private sales up 3.4% to 49.051 and business sales up 5% to 40.538. Rental fleet sales surge 48% to 5.910 and government sales are up 10% to 4.187. Looking at the country provenance of vehicles sold in Australian this month, Japan comes first with 29.907 units followed by Thailand at 25.729, South Korea at 14.868, Germany at 7.964 and Australia at 4.965.

… but its advantage over the Ford Ranger is only 85 units in May. Picture

Another piece of good news is the fact that in May all States and Territories gain ground bar the Australian Capital Territory (-3%). Victoria performs the best at +11.3%, followed by the Northern Territory up 8.1%, Queensland up 5.7%, New South Wales up 5.1%, South Australia up 3.1%, Western Australia up 2.8% and Tasmania up 2.5%. This result is particularly encouraging for Western Australia, a State that had been stuck in negative territory for a couple of years. SUVs resume their domination of the market and outsell passenger cars for the third time in the past four months thanks to sales up 9.4% vs. +1.6% to passenger cars. SUVs hold 38.5% of the Australian market this month vs. 37.7% for passenger cars, with light commercials (mainly “utes” or pickup trucks) also up 9.4% in May. Year-to-date, passenger cars are down 7.1%, SUVs up 3.2% and light commercials up 3.5%. Other notable progressions include business sales of SUVs up 14.9% and government purchase of light commercials up 31.7%.

The new generation helps the Mazda CX-5 remains atop the SUV sales charts in Australia.

Brand leader Toyota frankly outpaces the market with a 15.6% surge to 19.3% share vs. 18.2% year-to-date. This is Toyota’s best May result since 2012 and the fifth time in the past 11 months that the Japanese carmaker is above 19% share in Australia. Toyota sells more than double the #2, Mazda, up a timid 3.1% while Hyundai is down 7.7% on volumes boosted by deep i30 discounts a year ago. Ford is the other winner of the month with deliveries up a splendid 15.7% to 7.4% share, historically overtaking its archenemy Holden down 6.6% to 6.7% share. This is only the second time this millennium after April 2016 that Ford is above Holden in Australia, the previous one being January 1999 exactly when Ford sold 8.591 units vs. 8.335 for Holden…

Kia sales are up 41.3% year-on-year and surpass 5.000 for only the 2nd time in history.

Ranking at #9 below Volkswagen (+11.3%), the “most improved” award in the Top 10 once again goes to Kia up 41.3% to 5.005 sales, its second ever month above 5.000 units after June 2016 (5.170) and its second best market share at 4.9% below the 5% hit last month. Just outside the Top 10, Honda does even better at +43.4% thanks to the new generation Civic (1.311 sales), with Isuzu Ute (+26.2%), Renault (+40.1% thanks to the Koleos), Foton Light (+125%), Alfa Romeo (+86.5%) and Maserati (+30.6%) also impressive. At the other end of the scale, BMW (-18.9%), Jeep (-28.1%), Land Rover (-28.9%), Peugeot (-32.9%) and Citroen (-47.8%) all struggle.

The Holden Colorado (+36%) outsells the Commodore (-18%) for the 2nd straight month. 

The Australian models ranking is fast settling into a new normal: having two pickup trucks (or “utes” as they are called here) atop the sales charts. It had never happened before last October, but it’s now the third consecutive month and the fifth time in the past eight months that the Toyota Hilux (+13%) and Ford Ranger (+31%) dominate the market. This month the Hilux only wins by the skin of its teeth with a tiny 85 unit-advantage, both nameplates commanding a 4% share of the market. As it has now become the routine, the Ranger 4×4 outsells the Hilux 4×4 (3.384 vs. 3.036) while the Hilux 4×2 compensates at 1.018 vs. 685 for the Ranger 4×2.

The Mustang hits its highest volume, helping Ford above Holden. Picture

The two utes are followed by three passenger cars all in decline: the Toyota Corolla (-5%), Hyundai i30 (-29%) back up two spots on April now that the new generation is in dealerships but off an exceptionally high, rebate-boosted volume a year ago, and the Mazda3 (-20%). The Mazda CX-5 gains 9% with the help of the new model and holds onto the #1 SUV spot ahead of the Hyundai Tucson (+30%) now #7 year-to-date, the Nissan X-Trail (+30%) and Toyota RAV4 (+17%) all improving drastically and making it four SUVs in the Top 10, a record. Notice also the Toyota Camry up 54% to #7, the Holden Colorado up 36% and outselling the Commodore for the 2nd straight month, the Mitsubishi ASX up 40%, Kia Cerato up 69%, Toyota Prado up 38% and Mitsubishi Outlander up 34%. Finally, the Ford Mustang hits its highest ranking at #23 and delivers its first four-digit monthly sales figure at 1.351.

Previous month: Australia April 2017: Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger cement leadership

One year ago: Australia May 2016: Hyundai i30 leads, 133 units off YTD top spot

Full May 2017 Top 50 All-brands and Top 283 All-models below.

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Saudi Arabia January-April 2017: Toyota Camry takes the lead

The Toyota Camry is the best-selling nameplate in Saudi Arabia so far in 2017.

* See the Top 40 brands and Top 200 models by clicking on the title *

After dropping 21% during the same period a year ago, the Saudi Arabian new vehicle market plunges another 30% over the first four months of 2017 to just 158.690 units. Toyota follows the market at -30% and sees its share thaw slightly to 30.2% but Hyundai loses four percentage points of market share to 18.5% due to a 43% drop. Kia improves to 7.9% thanks to sales down ‘just’ 18%, overtaking Nissan down 33% to 7.7%. Isuzu (-27%) rounds up the Top 5 again, while Chevrolet (-32%) and Mazda (-16%) take advantage of Ford’s freefall (-52%) to gain one spot each to #6 and #7 respectively. The best performances in the Top 10 are delivered by Honda (+33%) and Renault (+41%) going against the grain to post significant gains. Further down, Dodge (+204%), Jeep returning to market (+1172%), Land Rover (+27%), BMW (+72%) and Chrysler (+439%) all impress while Genesis lands at #23.

After the Hyundai Accent took control last year, we have another leader this year in Saudi Arabia: the Toyota Camry, thanks to a 37% year-on-year surge to almost double its market share to 7.7%. The Hyundai Accent (-39%) is knocked down to 2nd place and 5.7% share, with the Toyota Corolla (-38%) and Hyundai Elantra (-41%) also receding one spot compared to a year ago. The Hyundai Sonata (-25%) gains one ranking to break into the Top 5, meaning there are now three Hyundais in the Top 5 vs. two Toyotas. The Hilux (-46%) and Yaris (-40%) struggle while the Nissan Sunny gains 92% to land in 7th place vs. #17 a year ago. The Mazda6 restrains its fall to -6% and breaks into the Saudi Top 10. Justifying its spectacular jump, Renault has the Captur at #21 (#60 a year ago) and the new Talisman at #31. We have two newcomers in the Top 100: the Genesis G80 at #77 and the Geely X7 Sport at #81.

Previous post: Saudi Arabia Full Year 2016: First ever crown for Hyundai Accent

One year ago: Saudi Arabia January-April 2016: Hyundai Accent takes the lead

Full January-April 2017 Top 40 brands and Top 200 models below.

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United Arab Emirates January-April 2017: Nissan Patrol beats all Toyotas

The Nissan Patrol is #1 in the UAE. Picture courtesy

* See the Top 43 brands and Top 250 models by clicking on the title

New vehicle sales in the United Arab Emirates are down a harsh 23% year-on-year to 88.781 units. Leader Toyota remains ultra-dominant and manages to lose less ground than the market at -20%, resulting in a 29% market share. Nissan also holds its head above water at -22% to 16.1% share but Mitsubishi freefalls 45% to 9.2%. BMW (-13%), Chevrolet (-13%) and Lexus (-14%) lose less ground than the market inside the Top 10 but the best performer by far is Kia managing a 17% improvement to 4.3% share in 5th place vs. #7 over the Full Year 2016. Dodge (+24%), Hino (+10%), Peugeot (+42%), Maserati (+46%), Geely (+25%) and Lincoln (+43%) also manage a year-on-year gain inside the Top 30 albeit with much smaller volumes. At the other end of the scale, Ford (-30%), Volkswagen (-31%), Audi (-35%), Land Rover (-36%), Hyundai (-43%) and Renault (-49%) struggle.

The Geely X7 Sport has landed in the UAE. Picture

The UAE models ranking is the theatre of a rare event: a non-Toyota new leader. The Nissan Patrol manages to take the lead thanks to a much improved 7.8% market share vs. 4.9% over the Full Year 2016. It is the first time the Patrol leads a YTD ranking in the UAE since BSCB started following this market in 2005. It outsells its archenemy and 2016 leader the Toyota Land Cruiser by over 1.200 sales, a frank victory. The Toyota Hilux remains in third place while the Mitsubishi Lancer EX and Pajero exchange positions to #4 and #5 respectively. The Toyota Camry and Hiace both jump three spots to #7 and #9 respectively, making it six Toyotas in the Top 10 along with the Prado and Land Cruiser pickup. The BMW X5 brilliantly stays inside the Top 10 with an improved 2.7% share. Notice also the BMW 7 Series up to #19, the Kia Cerato up from #50 in FY2016 to #20, the Honda City up from #92 to #37 and the Mitsubishi ASX up from #98 to #39. The Nissan Kicks (#59) and Geely X7 Sport (#119) are the most popular newcomers.

Previous post: United Arab Emirates Full Year 2016: Toyota Land Cruiser takes control

One year ago: UAE January-April 2016: Mitsubishi Lancer EX stays #1, Pajero up to #3

Full January-April 2017 Top 43 brands and Top 250 models below.


Canada May 2017: Ram teases F-Series in all-time record month

The Ram Pickup smashes its monthly volume record by 52% this month.

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 35 brands and Top 270 models by clicking on the title *

Far from running out of steam, Canadian new light vehicle sales post their first double digit year-on-year gain of the year in May at +11.2% to break the all-time record monthly volume established in April 2016, lifting it to 216.861 units. This is only the second time in Canadian history that monthly sales surpass 200.000. Accordingly, the year-to-date tally now stands at a record 835.582 units, up 4.7% on the same period a year ago. In May, passenger cars are back in positive territory, up 2.9% to 75.172 with light trucks up 16.3% to 141.689 but year-to-date PCs are down 2.5% to 273.405 while light trucks are up 8.5% to 562.177, commanding a 67.3% market share vs. 64.9% a year ago. The best performing segment this month is by far pickup trucks, up 38.2% to 46.873 units.

Chevrolet sales are up 37.7% and the Cruze is up 122%. Picture

Ford Motor Co. surges 17.4% to 15.9% share, reclaiming the group lead it holds year-to-date. FCA trails the market at +4.6% to 15.3% but gains one spot year-to-date to #2, overtaking General Motors despite the latter posting a spectacular 35.8% year-on-year gain in May. GM is up a stunning 18% so far this year, by far the largest increase among the Top 10 groups in Canada. Looking at the other groups further down the ranking, it becomes apparent that Ford and GM are the true engines of growth this month: Toyota Motor (+7.8%) and Hyundai-Kia (+3.8%) trail the overall growth but Honda Motor (+11.8%) is slightly above.

Ford towers above the rest of the market in the brands ranking with a 17.3% gain, followed by Toyota (+7.4%) and Honda (+11.6%) but the real heroes are below: Chevrolet takes off at +37.7%, Ram does even better at +61% and GMC surges 35.3%. Subaru (+17.6%), Audi (+16.6%) and Lexus (+11.9%) are the only other carmakers registering a double-digit gain inside the Top 20 while below, Cadillac (+57.9%), Lincoln (+21.4%), Jaguar (+166.2%), Maserati (+80.6%) and Alfa Romeo (+871.4%) impress. Reversely, Jeep tumbles down 31%, Chrysler is down 25%, Volkswagen down 9.9% and Dodge down 9%.

The Nissan Qashqai has (finally) landed in Canada. 

The fight for first place is heating up in the models ranking: although the Ford F-Series posts its second highest ever monthly volume at 15.307 (+20%), the Ram Pickup manages to smash its record volume established last month (9.883) by more than 5.000 sales and 52% to lift it to an incredible 14.990 deliveries. That’s up 62% year-on-year and just 317 sales below the F-Series: never had the two nameplate been so close sales-wise. As mentioned above, it’s a pickup-dominated top of the ranking with the GMC Sierra (+43%) and Chevrolet Silverado (+45%) posting the next two biggest gains in the Top 10. The Ford Escape (+26%) takes the lead of the crossover ranking but it’s the Toyota RAV4 (+10%) that overtakes the Honda CR-V (+26%) to take the lead of the category year-to-date. The Chevrolet Cruze (+122%) also shines.

A few new nameplates make their first appearance in the Canadian ranking this month: the Toyota C-HR leads them all at #77, followed by the Nissan Qashqai at #164, the VW Atlas at #181, the Land Rover Discovery at #206 and the Lexus LC at #253.

Previous month: Canada April 2017: Ram Pickup breaks record in market down 1.5%

One year ago: Canada May 2016: FCA scores strongest month ever, market down 2%

Full May 2017 Top 15 groups, Top 35 brands and Top 270 models below.


Argentina May 2017: Market up 28%, on track for 2nd best-ever year

The previous generation Chevrolet Onix remains on sale in Argentina as the Onix Joy 

* See the Top 43 All-brands and Top 210 All-models by clicking on the titlAfter a soft 6% gain in April, the Argentinean new car market is back to double-digit year-on-year gains for the 4th time this year at a splendid +28% to 75.570 registrations. The year-to-date tally is up an even more impressive 30% to 365.556 units. At this rate, 2017 will be the second biggest year for new car sales in Argentina below the all-time record of 955.023 hit back in 2013. Brand leader Volkswagen follows the market at +29% to 15.9% share, slightly below its YTD level of 16.6%, and the brands ranking is once again exceptionally stable with the Top 11 unchanged on April (and March). Chevrolet (+53%) and Fiat (+40%) beat the market but Ford (+10%), Renault (+12%), Toyota (+12%), Peugeot (+4%) and Citroen (+15%) all underperform. It’s below that we witness extravagant gains: Honda (+188%) and Mercedes (+54%) round up the Top 10 while just outside, Nissan (+93%), Jeep (+120%), BMW (+132%), Hyundai (+365%), Audi (+109%) and Volvo (+100%) all post spectacular improvements. Chinese Lifan (+330%) continues to climb, ranking just outside the Top 20.

The Ford Ka ranks third in May and sixth year-to-date. 

Over in the models ranking, we witness a concentration process towards most popular nameplates, with the top five best-sellers each more than doubling their sales year-on-year, an extremely rare feat. The VW Gol confirms it has reclaimed its hold on the Argentinean market with close to 4.000 sales this month and 16.808 year-to-date (+47%). The Gol led the Argentinean sales charts in 2014 and 2015 before being toppled by the Toyota Hilux last year. The Chevrolet Onix jumps 197% year-on-year and 3 spots on last month to #2, with sales split almost evenly between the previous generation, renamed Joy (1.650), and the current one (1.517). The Ford Ka is up 157% to #3 and now ranks #6 year-to-date, the Renault Sandero is up 118% to #4 and climbs to #2 YTD and the Chevrolet Prisma is up 273% to #5. Market leader at the same time last year, the Toyota Hilux (-18%) is down to #6 this month and #3 year-to-date. Among recent launches, the Fiat Mobi (#14) and Toro (#17) hit record rankings in Argentina (in the case of the Mobi also hit last month), the Peugeot 301 flies off to #60 vs. #154 in April and we welcome the Audi Q2 at #142.

Previous month: Argentina April 2017: VW Gol cements leadership in market up 9%

One year ago: Argentina May 2016: Toyota Hilux takes the YTD lead

Full May 2017 Top 43 All-brands and Top 210 All-models below.


Media post: A new type of turbocharger

BorgWarner turbocharger. Picture courtesy

There’s a lot to like about electric vehicles and one would think they are ready to become the dominant technology on our roads. Except they aren’t. Electric cars make great replacements for passenger automobiles, but trucks are an entirely different matter. Until electric propulsion technology offers the performance and affordability of gas and diesel-powered engines, the status quo will reign – i.e. internal combustion engines.

Keeping the venerable internal combustion engine up-to-date, though, isn’t easy. The challenge for automakers lies in keeping up with ever stricter fuel economy requirements and emissions regulations while delivering the performance that consumers demand. Fortunately, there are automobile companies with a lot of bright engineers that keep new technologies coming. BorgWarner is one of those companies.

BorgWarner is an industry supplier that has a history of building innovative and durable automotive components. According to Trinity of Taylorville, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Taylorville, IL, it was BorgWarner that Dodge went to when they needed an ultra-strong manual transmission for their Viper sportscar. Today, a new BorgWarner technology has been developed to make engines more fuel efficient and it is taking the industry by storm. It’s a new type of supercharger technology.

First, a word about turbochargers. They are essentially a small turbine, driven by exhaust gasses, that forces more air into an engine. Since this means more oxygen is driven into the engine, it develops more power from the same amount of fuel. Ah, but turbochargers have one key weakness: When you quickly need power, such as when passing a car, when you step on the pedal, it can take a few seconds for the engine to respond because the turbo needs to start spinning. Engineers call this delay lag.

Over the years, various improvements have reduced supercharger delay lag but BorgWarner has developed a technology that all but eliminates it. They call it an “e-booster” and it is basically an electric motor connected to a turbocharger that spins the turbo up fast (70,000 rpm in three-tenths of a second!) providing a performance boost until the turbocharger gets up to speed. The company claims it greatly improves efficiency and could increase fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent.

BorgWarner first toyed with this idea in the late 1990s, but decided the e-booster needed too much power. But the recent introduction of 48-volt electrical systems in cars has changed the picture. 48-volt systems can prove four times the power of a traditional 12-volt system this allows automakers to power a lot of devices with electric motors.

Even though the e-booster technology is thoroughly fleshed out, it will be several years before you will see one in your standard car. Automotive engineers are working on other electrically-driven engine components and the 48-volt systems that they require.

USA May 2017: Market down 0.5% despite strong light truck sales

The Toyota RAV4 now outsells the Camry year-to-date. Picture

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 295 models by clicking on the title *

The U.S. new light vehicle market has yet to post a positive month this year with May sales down slightly at -0.5% to 1.519.175, bringing the year-to-date tally down 2% to 6.978.089. This time passenger cars are solely responsible for the market’s drop with a 9% year-on-year decline to 584.005 units whereas light trucks are up 6% to 935.170 or 61.6% market share. In the detail, pickup trucks are up 9.3% to 236.429, crossovers are up 5.2% to 449.046 and SUVs up 2.8% to 155.855. Once again, the crossover+SUV category outsells passenger cars at 604.901 (+4.6%). Year-to-date, passenger cars are down a harsh 11% to 2.682.955, light trucks are up 4.7% to 4.295.134 with pickup trucks up 4.1% to 1.095.974 and crossovers/SUVs the everlasting engine of growth at +7.3% to 2.799.085.

The Ram Pickup outsells the Chevy Silverado for the third consecutive month. 

Group-wise, Ford Motor Co. takes the lead this month thanks to deliveries up 2.3% to 240.250, overtaking General Motors down 1.3% with Toyota Motor Co (-0.5%) and FCA (-1%) also in decline. Honda Motor (+0.9%) and Nissan Motor (+3%) buck the trend and post positive results as do the Volkswagen Group (+4.1%) and Jaguar Land Rover (+13.9%). Hyundai-Kia (-11.5%) and the BMW Group (-11.1%) suffer this month.

Ford is also the most popular brand in the U.S. this month, up 2.2%, distancing Toyota up 3.7% and Chevrolet down 3.8%. Honda and Nissan round up the Top 5, with Kia (-7%), Jeep (-15%) and Hyundai (-18%) falling heavily whereas Subaru (+12.1%) and Ram (+18%) continue to climb up. Subaru still has the lowest average incentives in market and is headed towards a 9th consecutive record year. Further down, Volvo (+12%), Infiniti (+15.6%), Buick (+28.5% thanks to the Envision), Maserati (+33.9%), Tesla (+37.3%), Jaguar (+43.9%) and Alfa Romeo (+1988.6% thanks to the Giulia) all post spectacular gains.

The VW Atlas has landed in the U.S. sales charts… 

Over in the models ranking, the Ford F-Series surges 13% to post its strongest May figure in 13 years at 76.027. It is followed for the third consecutive month by the Ram Pickup up 16% to once again outsmart the Chevrolet Silverado (-3%). The Silverado remains #2 year-to-date for now. The Toyota RAV4 jumps 19% to land in 4th place overall, overtaking the Camry year-to-date to become the brand’s best-seller in the U.S. If the RAV4 keeps this spot until the end of the year it would be a first. The Honda Accord (+5%) is the best-selling passenger car in May ahead of the Corolla (-10%) and Camry (-12%). The Nissan Rogue (+19%) and Honda CR-V (+10%) retreat to the bottom of the Top 10 but still post very strong figures. They rank #4 and #5 respectively year-to-date.

…as well as the Lexus LC. 

Notice also the Ford Explorer up 18%, the Jeep Grand Cherokee up 14% and the Toyota Highlander up 23%, all strong performing SUVs inside the Top 20. The Chrysler Pacifica nudges up to #35 with a record 11.720 sales, the Hyundai Tucson is up 44%, the GMC Acadia up 38%, the Chevrolet Camaro up 35% and the VW Golf up 61%. The Kia Niro is now the most popular recent launch (<12 months) at #127 but the Toyota C-HR (#150) and Hyundai Ioniq (#153) are catching up fast. We welcome two new nameplates inside the U.S. ranking this month: Volkswagen’s long awaited seven-seat SUV, the Atlas directly at #160 and the Lexus LC at #227.

Previous month: USA April 2017: Fourth consecutive month of year-on-year decline

One year ago: USA May 2016: Market down 6%, largest drop since August 2010

Full May 2017 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 295 models below.


Japan May 2017: Toyota Prius back to top spot, C-HR #2

Toyota Prius Japan June 2016. Picture courtesy Toyota Prius reclaims the title of best-selling vehicle in Japan. Picture

* See the Top 53 brands, Top 30 cars and Top 35 kei cars by clicking on the title *

The Japanese new car market posts a very solid 12.4% year-on-year gain in May to 372.576 registrations, lifting the year-to-date tally up 8.4% to 2.305.072 units. Regular cars are up 6.1% to 237.512 but it’s kei cars that really pull the market up at +25.3% to 135.064. Partly explaining this rebound: the stop sale in April 2016 of the Nissan Dayz and Mitsubishi ek, both selling no units that month. Accordingly, below Toyota up 9% to 32.4% share, Nissan catches up on lost time with a 75.7% gain to 14.2% share – also helped by the success of the Note – and Mitsubishi is up 110.9% in 8th place. Daihatsu (+25.5%) and Subaru (+28.9%) are the other winners this month. Mercedes (#10 overall) continues to top foreign carmakers above Volkswagen (-3.7%), BMW (+4%) and Audi (-13.1%). Renault (+94.1%), Smart (+70.3%) and Maserati (+58.3%) also make themselves noticed.

Toyota Alphard sales are up 65% year-on-year in May. Picture

After the Toyota C-HR historically took the lead of the models ranking last month, in May the Toyota Prius returns to the pole position for only the second time this year after last February and despite sales down 30% year-on-year. With the Nissan Note below 10.000 sales, the Prius also reclaims the year-to-date lead at 73.300 units (-36%) vs. 72.610 (+66%) for the Note. The C-HR, although not #1, remains at a very high level just under 13.000 sales in 2nd place. The Honda Freed is once again the brand’s most popular car with deliveries flying off 254% thanks to the new model. It ranks 4th this month and 5th so far this year, now getting dangerously close to toppling the Toyota Aqua year-to-date, down another 33% this month.

The new model boosts Suzuki Swift sales up 166%. Picture

The Toyota Vitz (+39%) and Subaru Impreza (+81%) lodge the other two impressive year-on-year gains inside the Top 10 whereas the Toyota Sienta struggles at -37%. Further down, the Toyota Roomy (#13) and Tank (#16) both retreat five spots on last month but remain at satisfying levels. The Honda Fit (-44%) tumbles down to #14 overall vs. #4 over the FY2016 and now desperately needs a facelift. Toyota’s MPVs are in great shape this month: the Noah is up 21%, the Vellfire up 24% and the Alphard up 65%. Other impressive gainers inside the Top 30 include the Toyota Harrier (+39%), Mazda CX-5 (+44%) and Suzuki Swift (+166%), the latter two boosted by new models.

The Daihatsu Mira is up 96% thanks to its facelift. Picture 

In the kei minicars aisle, the Honda N-BOX remains in the lead, improving 14% year-on-year to 13.118 units. The big event is the ascension of the Daihatsu Mira from #10 in April to #2 this month with sales up 97% year-on-year thanks to a long-awaited new model. The Mira stays #10 year-to-date for now. It distances this month the Move (+106%) and Nissan Dayz, the only two other kei car nameplates to post five-digit figures for the month. Helped by a new model as well, the Suzuki Wagon R gains 54% on April 2016 but drops two spots on last month to #6. The Toyota Pixis (+23%), Subaru Pleo (+44%) and Mazda Flair (+46%) also shine this month.

Previous month: Japan April 2017: Toyota C-HR climbs into pole position

One year ago: Japan May 2016: Nissan (-26%) and Mitsubishi (-51%) sink

Full May 2017 Top 53 brands, Top 30 cars and Top 35 kei cars below.


China May 2017: Focus on the All-new models

Lifan Xuanlang

* See the May 2017 Top 414 All China-made models and Top 74 brands here *

As is the case every month, we pay special attention to the new locally produced launches in China so you stay aware of the latest development in the fastest-evolving car market in the world. May marks the second consecutive month of year-on-year decline for the light vehicle market in China, and fittingly it is a very slow month for newcomers with only three new nameplates this month, all Chinese.

1. Lifan Xuanlang: 2.541 sales

With the recently launched Myway 7 seat SUV, Lifan had started to reassure us that they were back in the race. Unfortunately, here comes the Xuanlang. No, this is not a Ford S-Max, but an almost identical clone, up to the crease lines in the door and the alloys. The S-Max isn’t currently sold in China so unlike the Range Rover Evoque and its Landwind clone we can’t make a price comparison. The Xuanlang signals the fact that cloning is still very much present in the Chinese auto industry and not limited to Landwind and Zotye which we thought were the latest culprits of this dubious practice.

Lifan Xuanlang interior. Picture  

Seating seven and powered by a choice of three petrol engines:  1.8 (133hp), 2.0 (141hp) and 1.5T (141hp), the Xuanlang is priced very competitively from 69.800 to 106.800 yuan (US$10.250-15.700). This places it squarely against the #2 best-seller in the segment, the Baojun 730, as well as the Dongfeng Fengxing S500, Chana Ousheng and Changan Linmax. Already by far the most successful entrant this month with over 2.500 sales, this is unchartered territory for Lifan that hasn’t had a similar offering before. Doubling this initial monthly score would cement the Xuanlang as a force to be reckoned with in the MPV market.

Bar for success: 4.500 monthly sales

2. Zotye T700: 107 sales

Just as Lifan tests the murky waters of cloning, Zotye seems to have emancipated from it with this T700. Agreed, there is an air of Range Rover in the silhouette but the latest Zotye offerings had been almost identical clones so there is progress. Cue the Damai X7 (VW Cross Coupe GTE concept), T600 (Audi Q5), Damai X5 (VW Tiguan), SR7 (Audi Q3) and SR9 (Porsche Macan). The T700 is the new flagship of the brand and impresses with sharp design both exterior-wise and inside the cockpit featuring a 14 inch-touch screen.

Zotye T700 interior. Picture

The T700 is powered by a choice of three turbo engines a 1.8 (177hp) and two 2.0 (190 and 220hp) mated with a five-speed manual or six-speed DCT for the 1.8 and six-speed DCT for the two 2.0. It is priced from 106.800 to 155.800 yuan (US$15.700-22.900) and will aim at taking some business away from Haval. Zotye has been struggling lately with overall sales down 25% in May and its best-seller the T600 only gathering 3.654 deliveries, so our bar for success for the T700 is lowered down to 4.000 which would place it as the brand’s best-seller this month.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

3. Geely Yuanjing X1: 104 sales

Going from strength to strength with sales up 87% year-to-date thanks mainly to a series of new SUVs, Geely launches its smallest SUV to-date, the Yuanjing X1, unveiled at the last Shanghai Auto Show in April. Unfortunately, under a new nameplate and a seemingly new car hides a hastily facelifted version of the Geely Panda. The interior is its best asset with a huge 11.6 inch touch screen.

Geely Yuanjing X1 interior. Picture 

The X1 keeps the Panda’s 1.0 68hp engine and replaces the 1.5 by a 1.3 88hp engine, and its price range is at a tiny 39.900-57.900 yuan (US$5.850-8.500). It seems everything Geely launches is a success these days, but this X1 will have a tougher job in a segment that has traditionally struggled with big volumes. It will compete with the Baojun 510 (that proved this struggle wrong), the Haval H1 and the JAC Refine S2mini.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Previous month: China April 2017: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago: China May 2017: Focus on the All-new models

China May 2017: Second consecutive month of decline at -2.6%

The VW Tiguan hits its highest ranking in two years at #6. Picture

* See the Top 74 locally produced brands and Top 414 models by clicking on the title *

The Chinese light vehicle market is starting to really feel the effect of a 5% to 7.5% tax hike on vehicles with engine displacements up to 1.6L last January. For the second consecutive month, overall sales of locally-produced light vehicles are down, this time dropping 2.6% to 1.75 million units according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The continued strength of SUVs and crossovers, up 12% to 719.455 units, isn’t enough to compensate for the other segments’ losses anymore. Sedans drop 9% to 840.661, MPVs are down 14% to 142.665 and microvans down 25% to 48.100. Most tellingly, sales of small engine vehicles (1.6L or less) affected by the tax hike are down 9.2% year-on-year to 1.15 million units, representing 66% of the overall light vehicle market. Thanks to a relatively strong first quarter, the Chinese market is still in positive year-to-date though, at +1.5% to 9.42 million units.

The Baojun 510 is inside the Chinese Top 10 for the 2nd month in a row. 

According to retail sales data released by manufacturers themselves and including imports (this differs from the wholesale locally produced data provided in our data tables), General Motors posts stable sales at 294.425 units this month and shows very varied fortunes for its stable of brands: Cadillac is up 65% to 14.154 – the brand’s 15th consecutive double-digit year-on-year gain – and Baojun up 47% (wholesales up 72%), but the remainder of the brands are down: Buick (-6.8% to 94.023), Chevrolet (-1.4% to 37.571) and Wuling (-19% to 84.602 including microvans). Reversely, the Volkswagen brand manages to gain 4% to 241.600 units thanks notably to surging sales of the Tiguan (+71%) and Magotan (+77%). Adding Skoda, Audi and Porsche should make the Volkswagen Group the #1 Group in China although official figures aren’t available at this stage.

The Civic helps push Honda Motor Co. up 16%. Picture

Honda Motor Co. remains the best-selling Japanese carmaker this month thanks to a 16% year-on-year surge to 115.584 units, edging past Toyota Motor Co. up 12% to 112.800 and Nissan Motor Co. up 5.7% to 112.085. Brand locally-produced wholesales show a different picture with Honda brand sales up 18%, Toyota down 5% and Nissan up 27%. Honda benefits from the new Civic up 191% while the XR-V is up 4% and both the Vezel (-13%) and CR-V (-25%) struggle. Nissan has the Sylphy up 3% and the Qashqai up 22%. Japanese carmakers are likely to have benefitted from a sudden anti-Korean sentiment stemming from U.S. anti-missile defences deployed in South Korea. Hyundai (-65%) and Kia (-67%) both crumble this month. Ford Motor Co. for its part is down 3% to 87.733, adding up to a 11% loss year-to-date to 436.961.

Geely Vision SUV. Geely sales are up 87% so far this year. 

The luxury ranking continues to be reshuffled with the BMW Group taking first spot this month thanks to retail deliveries up 27% to 50.996, thanks to strong sales of the 3 Series (+57%) and X1 (+29%). Daimler AG is just below at 50.015, up 32% thanks to the new E-Class (+385%). Audi slows down its fall now that the dispute with its dealers over a new sales channel – postponed – is over but trails both its German rivals at -4% to 48.012.

Geely remains the star of Chinese brands with sales up 66% to 76.616 and up 87% year-to-date to 437.359. The brand outsells Changan (-26%) for the second consecutive month. Great Wall Motors on the other hand posts a second consecutive drop at -3.8% to 68.942 including 58.390 Haval sold (-6%). GAC Trumpchi surfs on the tremendous success of its GS4 and GS8 SUVs with sales up 47% to 44.148 but Dongfeng (-10%), Beijing Auto (-29%), Chery (-4%) and BYD (-21%) all retreat. Roewe is revived (+140%) thanks to the RX5 and the i6 sedan beating its sales volume record at 7.148, Soueast is up 43% thanks to the DX3 crossover and MG is up 87% thanks to the ZS crossover.

The Compass is now Jeep’s best-seller in China.

There are a few additional notable performances in the brands ranking: Jeep (+122%) stabilising around 20.000 monthly sales now has the Compass as best-seller (8.300), Mazda is up 24% mainly thanks to additional sales from the CX-4 and Mitsubishi is up 110% on the new Outlander. Just as French long-time local producers Peugeot (-38%) and Citroen (-63%) falter, newcomer on the China production scene Renault is gaining momentum above 6.000 sales for the third consecutive month. This places Renault only 1.500 units below Citroen in May.

Renault Koleos. Renault (+221%) is now teasing Citroen (-63%). Picture

The VW Lavida/Gran Lavida is the best-selling nameplate in China for the third consecutive month despite deliveries down 12%. It distances the Wuling Hongguang down 19% and the Haval H6 down 6% in a podium strikingly 100% in negative. The Nissan Sylphy (+13%), GAC Trumpchi GS4 (+22%) and VW Tiguan (+71%) follow, trying to compensate for these losses. The Baojun 510 beats its volume record once again at 24.108 units and remains inside the Top 10, confirming it has all but “killed” the 560 (-46%), and the Geely Boyue posts another stunning month at 21.142 units just outside the Top 10 at #11. Among recent launches posting strong results, the FAW Besturn X40 racks up 8.781 sales for its third month in market, the Chevrolet Equinox is up to 6.278 units and the VW Teramont up to 6.033.

Previous month: China April 2017: Market marks a pause at -3.7%

One year ago: China May 2016: Price cuts lift market up 11%, Wuling Hongguang back to #1

Full May 2017 Top 74 locally produced brands and Top 414 models below.