World April 2012 Round-up: Maruti Swift & Mazda CX-5 impress
This is our second monthly World round up after March 2012, and if last month the focus was on the Toyota Prius family and its huge success in the US and Japan, April takes us to India where we witness a historical change... Don't get me wrong, the Prius is still one of the month's superstars, with the Prius family reaching a record 5th position in the US and the Toyota Aqua (aka Prius c) now threatening the Prius for the #1 spot overall in Japan. But I've talked a lot about the Prius in the last month so let's mix it up a bit!
Back to India. In April the Maruti/Suzuki Swift takes the lead of the models ranking with 19,484 sales and a record 8.9% market share, breaking 93 months of uninterrupted reign by the Maruti Alto. Add the sales of the sedan version, called DZire in India, and the Swift family delivers almost 35,000 sales this month for a mammoth 16% share! But this is not the big news. The Indian market is generally so stable that before now only 3 models had managed to rank #1 there since 1950: the Hindustan Ambassador, Maruti 800 and Maruti Alto. Make this 4.
The other model starting to make some noise worldwide is the Mazda CX-5, particularly Down Under: the new small SUV reaches its highest ranking worldwide so far in New Zealand for its first month of sales there at a fantastic 6th place (in a very small market, granted) and is already knocking at the Australian Top 10's door at #11 there with 1.8% of the market.
The third star of the month is Korean. Hyundai has not waited for sales of the i30 to slow down to replace it, and the new generation of the model, built in Nosovice in Czech Republic, already looks like it is establishing itself as the next best thing to a Skoda in Eastern Europe. No mean feat given Skoda's domination in the region. This month it ranks #3 in Slovakia and Czech Republic and is leader in Croatia.
After a fantastic First Quarter that saw it become General Motors' best-seller worldwide for the very first time, the Chevrolet Cruze continues to progress in April, and one of its big achievements is breaking into the Russian Top 10 for the first time. The new generation BMW 3 Series is a success: it is up to a shiny 9th place overall in Europe with 17,171 sales, its first time in the Top 10 since December 2008, due in big part to a fantastic 2nd place in Germany.
The fall in Southern Europe intensifies, with Greece down 57%, Spain down 22% and at its worst level in 25 years, and Italy down 18%. In Italy, the most affected provinces are Florence (-66%) and Rome (-61%) and UNRAE now predicts 2012 at 1,434,000 registrations, the worst figure in 35 years. For the first time since the car started mass production in 1946, with more cars being disposed of than ones being bought, 2012 may be remembered as the year the process of “demotorisation” started in Italy!
In this sombre context, the Fiat Panda continues its brilliant run, enjoying its 4th consecutive month atop the models ranking in its native country, and reappearing in the European Top 10 at #8, its highest European ranking since February 2010. But the best news for Fiat come from abroad: this month the Fiat 500 ranks within the UK Top 10 for the first time in over 2 years.
In China, two new low-cost brands make their appearance in the ranking after Linian (Honda) and Baojun (GM) last year, Honda launches the Ciimo Si Ming (#118) and Nissan launches the Venucia D50 (#122) this month. In Iran, we are starting to see the effects of Peugeot's withdrawal and the big winner is Renault: the Tondar 90 -aka Dacia Logan- is up 35% to a best-ever 4th place this month while the Megane is up 48%...
In France the Peugeot 208 breaks into the Top 10 for the very first time at #9 and the Dacia Lodgy...lodges its first true month of sales at #67. I predict a Top 10 ranking there in the next year or so for the Lodgy: it has been the case for all recent Dacias in France: the Logan peaked at #7 in December 2007, the Sandero at #2 in March 2010 and the Duster at #5 in November 2011.