Strategy: Was killing Chevrolet in Europe a good idea?

August 20th, 2014 3 comments

Chevrolet Cruze crash. Picture courtesy of autoblog.comGeneral Motors crashed Chevrolet down in Europe. A good thing?

On paper yes, in practice no.

In December 2013, General Motors announced it would kill the Chevrolet brand in Europe to concentrate on ailing Opel and its UK sister brand Vauxhall. A reshuffling of priorities that made sense given Opel racked up an incredible $18 billion in losses over the past 12 years. GM cited damaging in-house competition that had eroded the profitability of both Opel/Vauxhall and Chevrolet in the region to justify the cull. Harsh but clean-cut, killing Chevrolet Europe is one of these decisions that is strategically sound but could potentially oversee the reality on the ground and changing consumers perceptions as a result.

Chevrolet Bel Air ImpalaChevrolet’s heritage is still present in European consumers’ minds.

Too big to kill?

Killing a brand such as Chevrolet in such a large market as Europe – 13 million new vehicles this year – is a huge deal and is not likely to happen smoothly. In troubled times, General Motors has made the decision to sacrifice the smaller of two struggling brands, but perhaps not the less healthy. By 2011 Chevrolet was selling just under 200,000 annual units on the continent through a network of 1,900 dealers, a little below Volvo and more than Mini, Honda, Suzuki or Mazda. Granted, the brand perception of Chevrolet may have morphed from badass American cars to dubious Korean imports by the time most models in the range had a Daewoo origin, but Chevrolet enjoys almost 100% awareness in Europe due to its long American heritage.

It’s not like GM killed a young, tiny brand in the bud like Nissan could be tempted to do with Infiniti in Europe if sales don’t increase dramatically in the near future. And it’s certainly not the same as killing Cadillac which had repeatedly struggled to sell more than a few thousand cars annually in Europe over the past two decades. Chevrolet is a brand that, if segmented well and properly differentiated with Opel, could definitely have kept growing on the continent. Heck, if Peugeot/Citroen PSA, in a similar precarious situation in Europe as GM, can finally decide to significantly differentiate its two brands while adding a third premium one (DS), why can’t the #3 manufacturer in the world do so?

Chevrolet Spark Europe 2014The Spark was Chevrolet’s best-seller in Europe in 2013.

Is the Opel brand really more healthy than Chevrolet?

By killing Chevrolet instead of Opel, did GM make a big mistake and cull the healthier of the two brands? The plan was that in the process, two things would happen: first most Chevrolet sales would transfer to Opel, then Opel, now GM’s only mass market brand on the continent, could return to profitability and its long lost days of teasing Volkswagen as Europe’s favourite brand. Does this mean that the health of the Opel brand is so tarnished that it needs its internal competitors shut off to prosper? It would appear so. Again on paper, it looks like the first thing happened: as Chevrolet abruptly died, losing 40,000 sales year-on-year in Europe in H1 2014, Opel gained almost as much (35,400). But there is nothing to say that these additional sales came from buyers who would have otherwise bought a Chevrolet.

Opel Corsa Europe 2014GM is counting on a clumsily facelifted Corsa to revive Opel sales in Europe…

In fact the detail by model over the period shows that Opel’s gains are in fact due to two new models (the Mokka and Adam), quite independently from Chevrolet’s death. The Corsa is only up 1% on the back of massive rebates continent-wide and stronger-than-usual sales to rental companies, plus I don’t believe the new ‘generation’ is ground-breaking enough to trigger a sudden surge upwards. The Astra (-9%) is outside the Top 10 for the first time since the nameplate was launched over two decades ago. The Insignia is up 35% but that’s not coming from the Chevy Malibu, stillborn here. The Meriva (2%) and Zafira (+8%) are ok but not selling in enough numbers to lift the brand, the Agila (-8%), Antara (-51%) and Ampera (-64%!) are sinking while the Cascada (+41%) is merely a blip on the radar at just 4,200 sales continent-wide. Only the Mokka (+62%) and Adam (+28%), both launched a bit over a year ago, logically step up, but what will happen when they stabilise?

Opel Mokka Europe 2014…but this responsibility falls on the Mokka for now.

Another concerning element is the definite lack of appeal of the Opel brand with private buyers, and this is a consistent situation all over Europe. Having a large part of its sales going to rental companies or fleet impacts a brand’s resale value extremely negatively as lots of ‘young’ used cars flood a market that never had a natural demand for it in the first place. For example, at home in Germany where you would expect a minimum amount of loyalty for the brand, the Corsa and Astra are the least popular models in their segments in terms of private sale ratio (17% on average). In comparison, Chevrolet was above 40% private sale ratio across most segments before last December’s announcement…

General Motors says ”Opel showrooms will become bigger, this is a really good opportunity to strengthen the Opel brand. We will try to capture customers who were in the low-price segment of the market.” So Opel has been rid of Chevrolet to get bigger showrooms and compete with Skoda and Dacia, whereas it couldn’t make a profit even when competing with Volkswagen? More than an uninspired facelift of its best-seller Corsa will be needed to achieve that. Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann has said in April that the automaker could reach break-even as soon as 2015, which would be a year ahead of target. However GM lost $305 million during Q2 2014, compared with a $114 million loss a year earlier, saying most of the losses were related to the closure of Opel’s assembly plant in Bochum. A lot of mixed messages indeed.

Chevrolet closing down. Picture courtesy of Auto PlusChevrolet closing down, Opel opening up?

How is the transition going at dealership level?

This is potentially the worst sign. The brand is supposed to sell cars up until 31 December 2015, yet in the Netherlands, Europe’s 6th biggest market, not a single Chevrolet was sold in July! And only one in Latvia, 4 in Finland and 6 in Estonia. This is a particularly abrupt fall even for a brand that has announced it would close down shortly. Saab didn’t fall that fast that early. A few days ago General Motors announced that “the dealer transition from Chevy to Opel is working extremely well: 85 percent have converted to selling only Opel.” This may be the case as a European average but is actually incorrect in France.

Over the decade up until 2013, Chevrolet was the third fastest growing brand in France below just Dacia and Kia with sales up 452% between 2003 and 2013 and its standalone dealership network growing from 93 to 170. Here the sudden announcement of the death of Chevrolet in Europe has angered a large part of Chevy dealers which felt they were left with no future while having built a brand from scratch for nothing. As a result, according to French magazine Auto Plus, the relationship between the General Motors France head office and the dealers is currently at its worst and that cannot be a good sign of healthy sales in the country. 140 dealerships have reportedly already closed down, not selling a single new vehicle this very minute, and as a logical consequence no Opels either – although the magazine is unclear on this point.

Fine, we can’t buy any Chevrolets in France anymore, or close to that. How about current owners that need repairing and/or spare parts? This is where it gets worse. Officially, over 160 service centres affiliated with Chevrolet are still in operation across the country, and General Motors has vowed to maintain Chevrolet after-sales service in Europe up to 2025. In practice, Auto Plus magazine reports French Chevy owners having trouble getting spare parts under reasonable delays and, more worringly, even getting latent defects taken care of!

Chevrolet Camaro Europe 2014The Camaro & Corvette are your only hope of getting a new Chevrolet in Europe after 2015. Or are they?

But Chevrolet is not dead…

But fear not, everything will be fine because “Opel will develop a range of models targeting former Chevrolet buyers” said Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann recently. So let me get this straight. We kill Chevrolet, then start from scratch again and create a whole new range of Opel models that will undercut the current ones price-wise the same way Chevrolet undercut Opel. All this while counting on current Chevrolet owners that can’t even get their cars repaired (even though they’re supposed to until 2025) to not be angry enough to give up on either Opel or Chevrolet altogether?

The Corvette and Camaro will supposedly remain available after 2015 though. Only there won’t be anyone to sell them.

Not such a good idea after all.

Categories: Europe, STRATEGY

Spain August 2014: Barcelona Photo Snapshot

August 20th, 2014 3 comments

1. Seat Ibiza Barcelona August 2014Seat Ibiza in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain – August 2014

Over the past few days I had the honour of visiting Barcelona in Spain, and this is a great opportunity to share with you my impressions on the car landscape in the capital of the Catalunya region. Remember to click on any picture to see the full size version! The first striking element looking at the cars in the streets of Barcelona is the low prevalence of shining new cars. The recession the market has endured here between 2008 and 2013 is showing clearly in the composition of the car landscape. Also, a very large portion of the cars in circulation in the city are taxis which may flaw some observations a little. A lot of these taxis are new, indicating that fleet sales do play a big part in the Spanish new car market’s current recovery.

2. Seat Toledo Barcelona August 2014bSeat Toledo in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain – August 2014

As is often the case in mid-weight cities, taxi nameplates are very specific in Barcelona with only a few models forming the vast majority of the park. Logical: the Seat Altea, Skoda Octavia, Superb and now Rapid are very popular with taxi companies. Large boots, understandable. More interesting: the Toyota Prius is among the two or three most frequent taxis here. Even more interesting: the Seat Toledo is everywhere as a taxi. Let’s be frank, it’s a flop in the Spanish sales charts as well as all other European countries, and it seems the little amount of sales it garnered at home since launch are devoted to endure the long and tiring life of being a taxi here.

3. Seat Leon Barcelona August 2014Seat Leon in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain – August 2014

As far as passenger cars are concerned, the latest generations Seat Ibiza and Leon do confirm they are the two most popular vehicles in the country at the moment with a significant amount driving around in town. The new Peugeot 308 is also an instant hit in Barcelona in line with country-wide sales figures of the past few months.

4. Skoda Rapid Barcelona August 2014Skoda Rapid in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain – August 2014

5. Renault Twizy Barcelona August 2014bRenault Twizy in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain – August 2014

Barcelona is now the city in the world where I saw the most Renault Twizy! They are used as security vehicles around the main touristic attraction (as below in Park Güell), but also available to rent and I saw quite a few tourists happily driving around town, with the passenger holding onto the driver’s seat a little bit like on a motorbike…

6. Renault Twizy Barcelona August 2014aRenault Twizy in Park Güell, Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain – August 2014

7. Peugeot 308 Barcelona August 2014Peugeot 308 in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain – August 2014

8. Dacia Dokker Barcelona August 2014Dacia Dokker in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain – August 2014

If you are a regular BSCB reader, you will know that Dacia has been met with tremendous success in Spain, with the Sandero flirting with the pole position of the models private sales charts. This gets confirmed in Barcelona, and I even saw way more Dacia Dokker than I ever did in France…

9. Seat Toledo Barcelona August 2014aSeat Toledo in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain – August 2014

10. Tata Hispano Barcelona August 2014Did you know Indian manufacturer Tata had a Spanish subsidiary called ‘Tata Hispano’? 

Categories: Spain

Europe July 2014: Nissan Qashqai hits best ranking in 16 months

August 20th, 2014 No comments

NISSAN QASHQAINissan Qashqai

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

European new car sales mark an 11th consecutive month of year-on-year gains in July at 1,081,195 registrations, up 5.4%. The year-to-date total now stands at 7,917,269 units after 7 months, up 5.8% on the same period last year. In the models charts, the VW Golf remains sovereign, even growing twice as fast as the market at +11% to 41,914 sales, almost 20,000 units above the second best-selling car… Talk about ultra-domination… Inside the Top 5, the Ford Fiesta (+6%), Renault Clio (+12%) and Opel Corsa (+17% thanks to run out prices on the outgoing model) also outperform, as opposed to the VW Polo, down 4% in spite of its mid-life facelift.

Skoda Octavia Europe July 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frSkoda Octavia

Ousted by a record-breaking Renault Captur and the ever-young Fiat 500 last month, both the Skoda Octavia (up 35% yoy to #7) and Audi A3 (up 23% to #9) reclaim their traditional spot among the Top 10 most popular models on the continent in July. Notice also the Nissan Qashqai hitting its best European ranking since March 2013 at #6 and the Peugeot 208 down a harsh 10% to #10.

Audi A3 Europe July 2014Audi is the 5th best-selling brand in Europe in July, above Peugeot and #1 premium.

In the brands ranking, the Top 4 best-sellers return to their year-to-date order this month with Volkswagen in the lead (+8%) ahead of Ford (+1%), Opel/Vauxhall (+8%) and Renault (+5%). Surprise in 5th place: Audi outsells Peugeot for the first time since last August to break into the Top 5 for only the third time in two years with 63,817 sales and 5.9% share (+8%) vs. 63,634 for the French manufacturer. The premium Germans are in great shape with Mercedes up 7% to #7 and BMW up 9% to #8. Finally, let’s salute the outstanding performance of Skoda, up 28% on July 2013 to 9th position with 51,876 units.

Previous post: Europe First Half 2014: Trusted nameplates outperform market

Previous monthly post: Europe June 2014: Discover the Top 340 best-selling models!

Previous month: Europe June 2014: Renault Captur first small SUV in Top 10 at #7

One year ago: Europe July 2013: Ford Focus at highest in almost a year

Full July 2014 Top 10 models and brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Europe

Portugal July 2014: VW Polo and Fiat Punto in command

August 20th, 2014 1 comment

VW Polo Portugal July 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frVW Polo

* See the Top 210 All-models and Top 33 All-brands by clicking on the title! Thanks Antonio *

+31% in July: the Portuguese new car market is definitely in recovery mode, bringing the year-to-date total to 89,949 units or a 37% improvement over the same period last year… Similarly to Croatia which we covered yesterday, this month is heavily influenced by rental car sales, which could explain the somewhat extraordinary models ranking: the VW Polo brilliantly takes the lead for the first time since BSCB has started following the Portuguese monthly models charts (June 2013) thanks to 710 sales and 5% share vs. #3 and 3.9% year-to-date, and the Fiat Punto is up 9 spots on June to a fantastic 2nd place at 586 units and 4.1% vs. #9 and 2.4% so far in 2014. The Renault Clio remains leader year-to-date (5.6%) but drops to third place at 4% share in July. The Seat Ibiza is strong at #4 vs. #7 ytd, as are the Audi A3 at #8 vs. #14, Toyota Yaris at #12 and Seat Leon at #13.

Peugeot 108 Portugal July 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frPeugeot 108

Further down, the Peugeot 108 lands directly at #34 for its very first appearance inside the Portuguese charts with 115 sales and 0.8%, the Citroen C4 Cactus is down 3 spots on June to #39, the BMW 4 Series down two to a still very impressive #41, the Mercedes V-Class lands at #103, the new generation Nissan X-Trail at #173 and the BMW i8 sells its very first two units this month in Portugal. We also welcome the Maserati brand into the Portuguese sales charts after a couple of years of absence, with one unit sold this month (a Quattroporte). In the brands ranking, Volkswagen (+61%) overtakes Renault (+38%) but remains #2 year-to-date, while Seat (+80%), Dacia (+180%) and Porsche (+105%) are on fire.

Previous month: Portugal June 2014: Mass brands reclaim market up 24%

One year ago: Portugal July 2013: Discover the Top 250 All-models ranking!

Full July 2014 Top 210 All-models and Top 33 All-brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Portugal

World: BMW’s global premium crown now threatened

August 19th, 2014 7 comments

Mercedes BMW Audi picture courtesy of carmagazine.co.ukBMW is under attack from Audi and Mercedes, with all 3 manufacturers breaking records.

Worldwide results are in for the first 7 months of the year for German premium brands and according to Automotive News it looks like BMW’s crown is starting to be in danger from Audi and Mercedes. But let’s get one thing cleared up first. All 3 manufacturers are hitting all-time volume highs so far in 2014! An incredible group performance indeed. BMW has been the global premium car sales leader since overtaking Mercedes in 2005. Audi has ranked second since 2011. Both Audi and Mercedes have said they want to take the top spot by the end of the decade… A fascinating battle indeed.

Over the period BMW brand sales gained 10% year-on-year to 1.03 million units, the first time BMW has passed the million mark this early in the year and a pretty impressive performance if you ask me, helped by the launch of the 2 Series, 4 Series, i3 and X4. But the issue is: both Audi and Mercedes are doing even better. At #2 Audi grew by 11% to 1.01 million units, (also the very first time the brand sells over 1 million units globally in just 7 months) helped by a 52% yoy increase for the A3 last month to 22,450 units due to the arrival of the sedan variant. At the same time Mercedes rose 13% to 920,000 units, thanks mainly to the success of the new C-Class and its new compact range: the  A-Class, CLA and GLA.

Mercedes Benz; C-Klasse T-Modell Fahrvorstellung, Frankfurt/Deidesheim, C-250 Brillintblau met. AvantgardeGlobal Mercedes brand sales are up a splendid 13% so far in 2014.

Because the three competitors are now so close to each other in overall sales, the growth percentage differences were reflected in actual volumes too: BMW sold about 77,000 more units in the seven months this year than last year, but Audi sold about 101,000 more and Mercedes about 104,000 more. Of course, the overall picture is more complex and the 3 premium Germans experience very diverse fortunes in key global markets. Audi is the market leader in both Europe and China, while BMW is the best-seller in the United States.

Audi A3 World July 2014. Picture courtesy of automobile-magazine.frAudi A3 Sedan

China

China has been the big growth market for all three premium German manufacturers in recent years. Here Audi remains the clear leader, with 316,945 units sold in the first seven months — an increase of about 46,000 units equal to 17% growth. Second place BMW grew in volume terms by a similar amount, about 45,000 units, representing a 22% rise, lifting its seven-month sales there to 245,558. Mercedes showed the most dramatic growth in China over the period with a 34% gain, but it is coming from well behind and that increase equated to about 40,000 additional units, bring its 7 months total to 156,843. However this explosive growth may slow since the manufacturer was found guilty of price fixing for after-sales services.

Europe

In Europe, Audi sold 474,000 units in the first 7 months this year, up 7% on last year. Mercedes ranks 2nd with a 30,000 increase in units sold to 411,178, but up 8% because it is working off a lower initial base. Against these two, however, BMW lost ground. It sold a total of 396,066 units in Europe, an increase of 6%, or of about 22,000 units, over the same period last year.

BMW 3 Series World 2014BMW 3 Series (US model shown)

United States

In the United States, BMW has the top spot. In the first 7 months it sold 183,791 vehicles, up about 19,300 units or 12% on the same period last year. Mercedes was the country’s No. 2-ranked premium brand with a volume of 178,816, up about 13,200 units or 8% on the same period last year. From a much lower base, Audi’s U.S. sales of 98,965 units represented growth of 13%, but the increase in actual units sold was about 11,000. Audi ranks 4th among premium brands in the U.S. market behind No. 3 Lexus.

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer World 2014Will the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer decide the global premium crown for 2014?

Who will win in 2014?

If Mercedes still seems one notch below its two competitors even though it is gaining more ground so far this year, the battle is totally open between BMW and Audi for the year-end global premium crown. Only 20,000 sales separate the two brands after 7 months vs. 26,500 one year ago, however this difference grew to 80,000 at the advantage of BMW at the end of 2013. The A3 sedan is only starting to climb up the sales charts both in the United States and China so I predict Audi to remain extremely close to BMW all through 2014. The arrival of the 2 Series Active Tourer towards the end of the year in Europe could be the decider.

My prediction for the Full Year 2014 is: 1. BMW (1.83 million units, +10%), 2. Audi (1.79 million, +13%), 3. Mercedes (1.65 million, +13%)

Categories: World

The car buyer of the Future: Porsche Macan vs. Range Rover Evoque

August 19th, 2014 No comments

Porsche Macan 1. Picture courtesy of Jack MacKenzie

As we know for a long time Porsche have been making sports cars. One of the most well known is the 911, which celebrated its fifty year anniversary last year. You would think a car selling for fifty years would be a company’s best-selling car – but no. Porsche’s best-selling car is actually the Cayenne, even though as far as I am concerned it is not exactly what one could call very good looking. I don’t think it’s a car people would lust after, but maybe Porsche’s new SUV will change that. The Macan is a cut down version of the Cayenne, and is far more desirable to me.

It comes as a diesel, diesel S, petrol, petrol S and turbo models. Unfortunately, unlike the Cayenne there are no V8 models. Instead they come with 3.0 litre V6 bi-turbo and single turbo engines. In Australia where I reside, prices range between $84,500 to $122,900. Each Macan comes with the 7 speed PDK gearbox as all new Porsches do. I like this car a lot and to give the car a bit more jazz they have given it the same steering wheel as the 918 hyper-car. The exterior and interior are exceptionally good as well.

Porsche Macan 2. Picture courtesy of Jack MacKenzie

However, I can’t let this car off the hook yet because like the A class Mercedes I wrote about a few months ago, the Macan has a direct rival. If you are a badge snob, the Range Rover for many years has been the SUV to go for and a few years ago they launched the Evoque, which is roughly the same size as the Macan. So let’s compare the two. In terms of pricing the Macan is in trouble because the entry level Macan is nearly double the price of an entry level Evoque and even the top of the range Evoque will still set you back less than the entry level Macan. I personally think the Macan is far better looking.

To compare both models in terms of power we will use The Macan diesel S and the Evoque TD4. This is where Macan wins out because it has 190kw, which is 80Kw more than the Evoque. The Macan also has much more torque (which you will need for towing stuff) because it has 580 Nm compared to the Range Rover’s 400 Nm. Now onto fuel economy, an important factor however wealthy you are. The Porsche beats the Range Rover again at 46.3 mpg whereas the Rover only does 45.6 mpg. Boot space is also important as well and this is where the Rover beats the Porsche, but not by much: it has 550 litres of boot space compared to the Porsche’s 500 litres.

Range Rover Evoque

So in my opinion it comes down to choice. They are both very desirable and very good cars. A Porsche sports car would normally be the more desirable car, however the Macan is not a sports car therefore it is competing in a market that Porsche are relatively new to; the SUV market. On the other hand the Macan is so good it can tackle the most desirable. But is that Porsche badge worth double the cash? That battle must be fought in the comments.

Croatia July 2014: VW Golf, Up and Polo on podium!

August 19th, 2014 3 comments

VW Up! Croatia July 2014VW Up

* See the Top 20 best-selling models and Top 34 All-brands by clicking on the title! *

Ouch. After 10 consecutive months of year-on-year gains, the Croatian new car market stops its recovery this month: down 5% on July 2013 which coincidentally marked the first month of growth in 17 months. Not to worry: the year-to-date total is still up a very robust 30% on 2013 to 24,193 units. July means Summer holidays in Croatia, and as one of the most touristic regions in Europe it also means massive rental car registrations. Add to this the fact that Volkswagen Group’s distributor in Croatia, Auto Zubiak, also owns the biggest car rental business in the country – Oryx Rent and like July 2013 we have a mammoth month for Volkswagen at 21.6% market share vs. 16.6% year-to-date. The models podium is logically monopolised by the German brand (here too like in July 2013) with the Golf in pole position at a huge 7.8% share ahead of the Up at 5.4%, its highest ranking in Croatia since it surprised the world and took the lead back in June 2012, and the Polo at 4.8%. The Skoda Octavia is back up 3 spots on June to complete a Top 4 100% VAG and remains leader year-to-date, while the Renault Clio is up 9 ranks to #6 and the Citroen C4 back inside the Top 10 at #10.

Previous month: Croatia June 2014: Opel Astra and Corsa dominate

One year ago: Croatia July 2013: VW Golf, Polo and Up! on top

Full July 2014 Top 20 models and Top 34 All-brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Croatia

China 7 months 2014: Haval H6 up to record 7th place

August 19th, 2014 2 comments

Peugeot 301 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of autohome.com.cnThe Peugeot 301 is climbing up the Chinese sales charts fast. #71 after 7 months.

* See the Top 356 All-local models and Top 66 All-brands by clicking on the title! *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after exploring in detail Chinese July sales we now look at the year-to-date ranking to try an extract longer-term trends. As a whole the market is up 8% on the same period in 2013 to 13.3 million units excluding imports (up 11% to 10.992 million units if we exclude commercial vehicles). As the year goes by the year-to-date models ranking cements itself and as such this month there are only two changes in the Top 10 compared to the 1st Half ranking. The Wuling Hongguang becomes the first passenger car to sell over 400,000 units in the country in less than 7 months, adding up to 426,657 units (+53%) at end-July. It is followed like last year by the VW Lavida at a record 298,050 (+18%) and the Ford Focus at 232,688 (+6%), here too the nameplate’s strongest result after 7 months in China.

Haval H6 China July 2014Haval H6

Volkswagen manages to place no less than 4 models inside the Top 6 with the Santana at #4 (+118%) ahead of the Sagitar (+12%) and Jetta (+30%). The first change in the Top 10 is local SUV king Haval H6 up two spots compared to the H1 charts thanks to record ranking and sales in July to #7 with 169,662 sales, up 57% on 2013 and overtaking the Buick Excelle and Nissan Sylphy. The Chevrolet Cruze for its part gains 3 spots to reclaim a spot in the Top 10 at #10 with sales up 19% on 2013, while the VW Tiguan passes the Buick Excelle XT/GT to claim #12 and the VW Bora is now above the Chevrolet Sail for #14 and the VW Golf overtakes the Honda CR-V at #19.

VW Santana China July 2014. Picture courtesy of pic.autov.com.cnThe VW Santana is up 118% so far in 2014.

As far as Chinese models are concerned, the ChangAn Eado is third overall and up two ranks to #26 (+85%), taking its distance over the Chana Honor at #31 (+95%) and Dongfeng Future at #32 (+21%). The Emgrand EC7 falls deeper down the ladder at #38 (-32%), the Roewe 350 (#46), Venucia D50/R50 (#48) and ChangAn CS35 (#50) are the remaining locals in the Top 50, with the BYD S6 (#51), Dongfeng Joyear (#52) and Great Wall M4 (#53) not far behind.

Hyundai Mistra China July 2014. Picture courtesy of autoevolution.comHyundai Mistra

The Hyundai Mistra is once again the most popular model launched less than a year ago at #35 with 73,482 sales so far in 2014, still on track to finish 2014 way above the 100,000 units aimed at by Hyundai (120,000+ is more likely at this stage!). The Ford Mondeo gains 4 spots to #44 and 61,374 sales thanks to a blockbuster month of July, the Chery Tiggo 5 is down one to #67, the Toyota Yaris L up one to #68, the Peugeot 301 up 8 to #71 and now 5th most popular newbie with 43,849 units (vs. #7 last month), the Beijing Weiwang M20 down two to #77, the Chery E3 down a harsh 8 to #81 and the Honda Jade down one to #98.

DS 5 LS China July 2014DS 5 LS

Further down, other interesting developments include the DS 5 LS overtaking the DS 5 at #222 with 5,785 sales vs. #233 and 5,193 and the Qoros 3 up 5 spots from #261 after 6 months to #256 and 3,026 sales after 7… All-in-all, out of 53 all-new models younger than one-year old, two rank inside the Top 50 for now, 8 in the Top 100 and 27 in the Top 200.

Previous post (1): China July 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Previous post (2): China July 2014: Market up 10% thanks to MPV and SUV sales

One year ago: China 7 months 2013: Discover the Top 321 All-models ranking!

Full 7 months 2014 Top 356 All-local models and Top 66 All-brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: China

Latvia July 2014: Skoda Yeti reclaims top spot, Dacia Duster #2

August 19th, 2014 No comments

Skoda Yeti Latvia July 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frSkoda Yeti

* See the Top 80 models and Top 35 brands by clicking on the title! Thanks Peteris *

The Latvian new car market continues to go gangbusters at +29% year-on-year in July to 1,446 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 8,723 units, up 21% on 2013. Overtaken by the Peugeot 3008 last month, the Skoda Yeti reclaims the pole position both this month and year-to-date thanks to a very strong 93 sales and 6.4% share, adding up to 340 units and 2.9% year-to-date vs. 293 and 3.4% for the 3008 down to a paltry #11 in July. The Dacia Duster also impresses at 80 units and 5.5% in 2nd place vs. 2.6% and #7 year-to-date, lifting the French-Romanian brand up to #5 and 6.4% vs. #8 and 3.6% year-to-date. The Toyota Auris is up 10 spots on last month to round up the podium ahead of the Nissan Qashqai, VW Jetta and Golf. Up to an unbelievable third place in June, the BMW X6 is back down to a still very reasonable #25 this month with 1.4% share. Finally, notice the Porsche Macan at #82 and the Mercedes V-Class at #83.

Previous month: Latvia June 2014: Peugeot 3008 leads, BMW X6 up to #3!

One year ago: Latvia July 2013: VW Golf reclaims pole position year-to-date

Full July 2014 Top 80 models and Top 35 brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Latvia

China July 2014: Focus on the all-new models

August 18th, 2014 2 comments

Venucia R30 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of car.auto.ifeng.comVenucia R30

* See the Top 318 models by clicking on the title! Thanks Carnewschina for the pricing info *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after going through detailed sales figures for July, I spend a bit more time acknowledging the all-new entrants in the models ranking, to ensure you are across the latest news in the biggest car market in the world. After a surprisingly quiet month of June (no new model!), July is back to the traditional 4 all-new models making their first appearance in the Chinese ranking, like in April and May. Keep in mind all models detailed here are locally produced as import data for China is not communicated.

First in line we have the Venucia R30 landing at #164 with 1,662 sales. Quick reminder for you readers that Venucia is the low-cost brand created by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture, for the moment only selling in China and distributed via the existing Nissan dealer network. The R30 is based on the current Nissan March and is the 4th model launched under the Venucia brand after the D50 and R50 both based on the previous generation Nissan Tiida and the Morning Wind, a rebadged Nissan Leaf with a very unfortunate name. This makes Venucia the most prolific low-cost Chinese brand so far, taking the lead on SAIC GM’s Baojun.

Venucia R30 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of autofan.com.cnVenucia R30

The R30 will primarily be marketed in second and third tier cities where price matters more than badge, as the R30 is very conveniently priced indeed: starting at a cut-throat 39.900 yuan (US$ 6.490) and ending at 49.900 (US$ 8.100): straight in the territory of the legendary Chery QQ which is more expensive, smaller, less powerful and losing 47% year-on-year in July at a low #117… Another model in the R30′s line of fire is the (also smaller and less powerful) BYD F0, itself down 30% to #154, with the R30 already not far below for its first month of sales in the country. As a reference point, the R50/D50 currently ranks #48 year-to-date with just over 60,000 sales, so a monthly Top 100 ranking very soon for the R30 seems unavoidable, and a Top 50 ranking this end of Christmas would mark a significant change of guard and the advent of a new Chinese brand that could do wonders overseas…

Mazda CX-7 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of xgo.comLanding as all-new this month: the Mazda CX-7!

Just below at #179 with 1,328 sales we have a well-known nameplate but its appearance as a new model is rather puzzling. Discontinued in 2012 to make room for the CX-5, the Mazda CX-7 just launched as an all-new locally-produced model in China by the FAW-Mazda joint-venture! This is actually a pretty clever move in an SUV market growing at 20%+ with room for many more models than the US for example. Priced between 199.800 and 237.800 yuan (US$ 32.500-38.700), the CX-7 could help Mazda sandwich SUVs like the VW Tiguan (#10 this month), Toyota RAV4 (#23), Nissan X-Trail (#24) and Honda CR-V (#66) along the CX-5 at the other end. Keeping in mind the CX-5 is currently #110 so far in 2014, I don’t see the CX-7 climbing too much higher than #120 but then again, it could go much higher in a market that tend to like their SUVs bigger and doesn’t mind them old-fashioned – see the Nissan Qashqai first generation still on sale…

Haval H2Haval H2 at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show

The most promising all-new model to make its first appearance in the Chinese ranking this month is the Haval H2, the little brother of the tremendously successful Haval H5 and H6, landing at #184 with 1,260 sales. If you are a regular BSCB reader, you will know that Haval has been the best-selling SUV brand/sub-brand in China for the past 12 years and that it impressed me so much at the last Beijing Auto Show that I chose it as the Show’s ballsiest Chinese carmaker. More on this here. With a sporty bi-colour outfit, the H2 is already heralded as one of the best-looking SUVs on sale in China. Priced around 100.000 yuan (US$ 16.300), it competes with the Chery Tiggo 5, Haima S7, and Geely GX7, and is extremely important for Great Wall’s SUV brand in order to cement its domination in the segment even further.

Haval H2 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of autosina.comHaval H2

Needless to say the H2 won’t stay at its current level very long, but the jury is out as to how far up it can go. Given the popularity of small SUVs in China at the moment and sporting a very attractive design, the sky is the limit for the H2 but will almost certainly involve a reasonable level of cannibalising of the H5 and H6. With the H6 ranking at an out-of-this-world (and, let’s be clear, unattainable for the H2) #6 overall in July but the H5 at a low #125, a Top 50 ranking in the next few months for the H2 would seal its success, anything further up will mean it will most probably bring the H6 down along with it, exactly how the H6 did to the H5 a couple of years ago. Are the glory days of the H6 atop Chinese SUV charts counted? The answer could very well be yes. Reveal in a few months…

Maxus V80 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of xcar.comMaxus V80

Finally the 4th all-new model in China in July is the Maxus V80, landing at #267 with 208 sales. SAIC bought Maxus from bankrupt British LDV in 2010 and set up production in China. If the Maxus G10 that launched last May at a much lower #303 was a truly all-new model, the V80 isn’t exactly. It started production as an LCV back in July 2011, and may owe its sudden appearance in the passenger car ranking to both a new front and potentially a MPV version hitting dealerships now. The V80 is priced between 145.800 and 239.800 yuan (US$ 23.700-39.000) so clearly not a cheap investment for Chinese entrepreneurs out there, although these vehicles are used by many businesses as mobile offices, and by taxi companies for VIP transport. Given the recent appearance of the brand inside the ranking it is almost impossible to predict the V80′s long-term sales level, but let’s just note that the more modern and cheaper G10 is now #234 with 491 units sold in July, so a Top 200 ranking is within the ream of possibles for the V80.

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Full July 2014 Top 318 All-models Ranking Table below.

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