Italy February 2017: Market up 6.2%, Suzuki Ignis breaks into Top 50

The Suzuki Ignis has struck a chord with Italian buyers: #42 this month.

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The Italian new car market gains 6.2% in February to 183.777 registrations, which means the year-to-date total is now up 8.1% on the same period last year at 355.656 units. Once again though, this growth can be labelled as artificial.  Italian sales are pushed up by business sales up 43.9% to 33.700 units and 18.2% market share as well as rental sales up 6.3% to 45.555 and 24.6% share. Long-term rentals do the heavy work with a 21.1% gain to 24.445 while short-term rentals are down 6.8% to 21.110. Private sales are actually down 2.5% to 105.778 and 57.2% share vs. 60% year-to-date and 62.1% a year ago in February 2016. A caveat to this analysis is the fact that long-term leases can intersect with both private sales and business sales.

The Renault Clio signs the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 10. Picture by quattroruote.it 

Brand-wise, the entire Top 10 remains unchanged on January, with Fiat remaining largely in command at home, following the market at +6% to 38.896 deliveries and 21.2% share. It distances Volkswagen (+7%), Ford (+2%), Renault (+5%), Peugeot (+3%) and Opel (+3%). Toyota (+15%) and Citroen (+17%) deliver the biggest year-on-year gains in the Top 10. Further down, let’s single out Kia (+12%). Nissan (+12%), Skoda (+21%), Alfa Romeo (+23%), Honda (+33%), Seat (+34%) and Suzuki (+83%). Among smaller brands, Maserati (+122%), Infiniti (+130%) and Jaguar (+154%) shine, all boosted by their new SUV lineup.

 The VW Tiguan is up 5-fold on the previous generation a year ago.

Over in the models aisle, the Fiat Panda edges past the market growth at +8% to comfortably retain the pole position at home with 15.997 units. It distances the Lancia Ypsilon (+6%) back to its long-term 2nd place and the Fiat 500L (+8%), this month the leader of the 500 series as the Fiat 500 drops back down to #5 from #2 in January and the 500X is up 7 spots on last month to #7. The Renault Clio (+23%) signs the largest year-on-year increase in the Top 10. Outside, the Hyundai i10 (+43%), Nissan Qashqai (+43%), Ford Kuga (+44%), Citroen C3 (+54%) and Fiat Tipo (+79%) impress, but none as much as the VW Tiguan, up 5-fold or 379% on its January 2016 score thanks to the new generation.

The Toyota C-HR leads hybrid sales in Italy for the second month running.

Among recent launches, the Toyota C-HR is up one spot on January to #28, the Suzuki Ignis is up 18 spots to break into the Top 50 for the first time at #42 and the Audi Q2 repeats at #46. Looking into the segment rankings in more detail the Fiat Tipo remains the best-selling station wagon in Italy with 1.069 ahead of the Audi A4 (1.024), Ford Focus (938) and Skoda Octavia (821). It also leads year-to-date at 2.664 units above the Audi A4 (1.849), Peugeot 308 (1.779) and Ford Focus (1.670). The Toyota C-HR once again leads the hybrid sales charts with 1.599 units or 93% of its total sales, distancing the Toyota Yaris (1.153), Auris (868), RAV4 (495) and Kia Niro (310). Year-to-date, the C-HR adds up to 3.141 above the Yaris (2.384), Auris (1.368) and RAV4 (930).

Previous month: Italy January 2017: Fiat 500 up to 2nd place, Toyota and Citroen shine

One year ago: Italy February 2016: Entire Fiat 500 family fits within Top 5 for 1st time

Full February 2017 Top 45 All-brands and Top 50 models below.

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Italy January 2017: Fiat 500 up to 2nd place, Toyota and Citroen shine

The Fiat 500 ranks #2 at home for only the third time in its decade-long career. 

* NOW UPDATED with actuals for the Top 45 All-brands and Top 180 models – see title *

The December 2016 and Full Year 2016 articles have now been updated with Top 230 models.

Helped by two extra selling days compared to January 2016, new car sales in Italy jump up 10% to 171.556 registrations, the highest score for the month since 2010 and the 32nd consecutive month of year-on-year gains. Adjusted for the same number of selling days, the market is in fact down 0.6%. Private sales are up just 4.7% to 108.685 for a 62.9% share vs. 65.9% a year ago, rental sales are in line with the market at +9.4% to 35.335 (short-term rentals -10.8%, long-term +24.5%) but it’s business sales, spruced up by tax breaks, that pull the Italian market up this month at +33.2% to 28.647, going from 13.6% share in January 2016 to 16.6% now. Sedans and hatchbacks surprisingly outpace the market with a 11.8% gain to 96.545 sales but once again crossovers are the most dynamic with a 19.2% surge to 34.885 units and 20.2% share vs. 18.6% a year ago.

The Fiat Tipo is the best-selling station wagon in Italy. 

Brand-wise, the leading trio outpaces the overall market and add up to 36.9% share: Fiat is up 15% to 21.8%, Volkswagen up 12% to 7.7% and Ford up 14% to 7.4%. Renault has “period start fatigue”: down to #4 with 5.8% share, ahead of Peugeot (+17%) and Opel (+14%). Toyota (+30%) and Citroen (+26%) post the largest gains in the Top 10 while Audi (-1%) remains the luxury king at #10 above BMW at #12 (+13%) and Mercedes at #15 (-9%). Dacia soars 25% to a splendid 11th place, Alfa Romeo is up 28%, Suzuki up 35%, Honda up 61%, Jaguar up 110% and Maserati up 160% thanks to the Levante accounting for 72% of the brand’s January sales. Infiniti is up a whopping 560%, overtaking Lexus (+13%) for the third time ever after last May and July and while Lexus outsold Infiniti 5 to 1 in December…

The new model earns the Citroen C3 its first Top 10 ranking in four years

In the models ranking, the Fiat Panda (+12%) further widens the gap with the next most popular nameplate in Italy, now selling 2.4 times more than the #2 model. That ranking is held by a reinvigorated Fiat 500 up 35%, and as strange as it sounds this is only the third time in a decade-long career that the Nuova 500 manages to rank #2 after September 2008 and June 2014. The Lancia Ypsilon (+4%) is knocked down to #3 above the Renault Clio (+22%). The Fiat Tipo (+235%) soars back up to 5th place, with its station wagon variant accounting for 35% of its January sales and by far the best-seller in its segment (1.591) ahead of the Peugeot 308 (993) and Audi A4 (823).

The Toyota C-HR breaks into the Italian Top 30. 

The new generation boosts the Citroen C3 up 75%, allowing it to return inside the Top 10 for the first time in four years (January 2013). Further down, the VW Tiguan is up 349% to #16, the Dacia Sandero up 48% to #18, the Opel Mokka up 42% to #20 and the Peugeot 2008 is up 34% to #21. The big news in the Top 50 is the thunderous arrival of the Toyota C-HR at #29, already leading the hybrid sales charts (1.536) ahead of the Yaris (1.226), Auris (496), RAV4 (432) and fellow newcomer Suzuki Ignis (189). Two additional recent launches break into the Italian Top 50 for the very first time this month: the Audi Q2 at #46 (+24 spots on December) and the Ford Ka+ at #47 (+19). Other great January performers include the BMW X1 up 44% to #38, the Ford Kuga up 45% to #33, Opel Astra up 53% to #35 and the Peugeot 3008 up 246% to #37 thanks to the new generation.

First Top 50 ranking in Italy for the Ford Ka+

Previous post: Italy Full Year 2016: Six Italian models in Top 7 for the first time in 32 years

Previous month: Italy December 2016: Renault Clio stays on podium in market up 13%

One year ago: Italy January 2016: Fiat 500 back on podium, Punto out of Top 10

Full January 2017 Top 45 All-brands and Top 180 models below.

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Italy Full Year 2016: 6 Italian models in Top 7 for first time in 32 years

Lancia Ypsilon Italy February 2016Unique survivor of the Lancia lineup, the Ypsilon surprises and gains 18% in 2016.

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Consult 60 years of Italian Historical Data here

Originally slated for a 7% growth by UNRAE, 2016 ends on a much higher note, even replicating 2015’s growth rate at +16% to lodge a second consecutive year of double-digit gains at 1.824.968 registrations. This is the highest annual volume since 2010 (1.961.559) and marks an additional 465.000 annual sales in two years. As UNRAE notes, the great health of the Italian car market contrasts with many other durable goods segments, and that’s because it has been lifted by two significant measures throughout the course of the year. Over the first half, manufacturers competed with particularly aggressive commercial actions that led to a boost in private sales. In the second half of the year however, two tax reduction measures by the government, the Superammortamento and New Sabatini, favoured sales to businesses. As a result, looking at the Italian car market by channel in 2016, business sales are by far the most dynamic at +28% to 340.193 units for a 18.4% market share vs. 16.7% a year ago. Rental sales are up 17% (long term +18%, short term +14%) to 366.983 and 19.8% share vs. 19.7% in 2015. Finally private sales, although quite strong at +13% to 1.141.217, see their market share drop from 63.5% last year to 61.8% in 2016, their lowest ever level.

fiat-panda-italy-2016-picture-courtesy-quattroruote-itThe Fiat Panda has now dominated the Italian sales charts for five consecutive years. 

The Top 7 best-selling brands remain unchanged on the 2015 oder, with both leaders Fiat (21.1% share) and Volkswagen (7.6%) gaining 17% year-on-year, a rate only slightly higher than the market. Ford (+14%) lags behind but remains in third place, resisting Renault up a very vigorous 25% to 118.283 sales and 6.5% share, and distancing Opel (+7%), Peugeot (+11%) and Toyota (+9%). Lancia (+17%) takes advantage of Nissan’s drop (-4%) to gain one spot to 38, Mercedes surges 20% to break into the Top 10 at #9, overtaking Audi (+17%) at the last minute to snap the luxury crown. BMW (+20%) also shines in the luxury aisle, while further down Skoda (+28%), Jeep (+35%), Mazda (+48%), Ferrari (+49%), Maserati (+51%), Ssangyong (+59%), Honda (+98%), Jaguar (+198%) and Infiniti (+393%) all deliver spectacular gains. Along with Nissan, Mahindra (-12%) and DS (-20%) are the only other Top 40 manufacturers to see their volumes drop year-on-year.

Italy 2016 – monthly sales by channel:

italy-2016-12-by-channel

In the models ranking, the Fiat Panda lodges a fifth consecutive annual win, evolving exactly like the market at +16% to 147.275 sales for an identical 8.1% market share. This is the Panda’s highest annual volume since 2009 (171.887). An indication of the implacable domination of the Panda, it outsells all carmakers bar Fiat, with Volkswagen coming the closest at 139.057. See our Photo Report on driving a Panda in Sardinia here. Unique survivor of the Lancia lineup and logically headed towards the annihilation of the brand (like before it Autobianchi), the Ypsilon has found its place within the Fiat offer as an equally posh but larger Fiat 500. It surprises in 2016 with sales up by a robust 18% to 65.655, comfortably ranking in 2nd position. It also has to thank the demise of the Fiat Punto: -22% to #7. The Fiat 500L (+6%) loses share but accesses the podium at #3, lifted by string sales to rental companies. It is followed by the Renault Clio, the best-selling foreign nameplate for the third year in a row and hitting its highest ever annual ranking in Italy at #4 (also reached in 1992).

fiat-500x-italy-2016-picture-courtesy-quattroruote-itThe Fiat 500X brilliantly breaks into the annual Top 5 in 2016. 

The Fiat 500X jumps 42% to break into its home Top 5 with 46.233 sales, distancing the Fiat 500 up just 11% despite a facelift. This means there are five Fiats and six Italian models among the 2016 Top 7 best-sellers. This is the heaviest presence of homemade nameplates inside the Top 7 annual charts in 32 years (since 1984!). The Ford Fiesta (+8%), VW Polo (+19%) and VW Golf (+9%) round up the Top 10. Below the Peugeot 208 (+22%) and Jeep Renegade (+49%), the most popular newcomer in 2016 is the Fiat Tipo, resurrecting a nameplate originally launched in 1988. It lands at #14 for its first full year of sales but peaked at #3 in Augustthe first time the Tipo nameplate appeared on the Italian podium since 1991 and will be aiming at a Top 10 ranking in 2017, strong with sedan, hatch and station wagon, the latter topping its segment in both November and December. The Hyundai Tucson (#22), VW Tiguan (#31), Renault Kadjar (#32), Audi A4 (#35), Kia Rio (#42) and BMW X1 (#45) also improve spectacularly compared to 2015.

Previous post: Italy December 2016: Renault Clio stays on podium in market up 13%

Previous year: Italy Full Year 2015: Fiat Panda leads, 500X and Jeep Renegade superstars

Two years ago: Italy Full Year 2014: Podium 100% Fiat for 2nd time in 15 years

Full Year 2016 Top 50 All-brands and Top 230 models vs. Full Year 2015 figures below.

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Italy December 2016: Renault Clio stays on podium in market up 13%

Renault Clio Italy December 2016Another excellent month for the Renault Clio in Italy, the only foreigner in the Top 6. 

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The November 2016 post has now been updated with the Top 180 models

The Italian market growth in December (+13%) is in line with the rest of the year (+16%) at 124.438 registrations. Market leader Fiat evolves like the market at +13% to 21.3% share, distancing Volkswagen at 8.1% (+23%), Renault at 6.6% (+5%), Ford at 5.9% (+11%) and Peugeot at 5.5% (+2%). Opel frankly outpaces the market at +20% in 6th place while Mercedes soars 40% to overtake Audi (+45%) year-to-date and snap the #1 luxury spot for 2016. Jeep (+22%), Alfa Romeo (+41%), Skoda (+69%), Smart (+47%), Volvo (+58%), Seat (+30%), Honda (+46%), Porsche (+32%), Jaguar (+167%), Maserati (+295%) and Infiniti (+550%) also make themselves noticed.

VW Tiguan Italy December 2016Italian VW Tiguan sales are up 4-fold in December compared to a year ago. 

The Fiat Panda (+16%) remains by far the most popular nameplate in the country ahead of the Lancia Ypsilon (+3%) while the Renault Clio posts a second consecutive month on the podium at #3 thanks to deliveries soaring 20% on December 2015. The Fiat 500L (+5%), 500 (+27%) and 500X (-13%) follow, while the Tipo falls back down 4 spots on November to #8 and the Punto (+10%) makes it six Fiats inside the December Top 10. Notice also the Peugeot 208 (+26%), Jeep Renegade (+37%), VW Tiguan (+327%), Opel Mokka (+37%), Dacia Duster (+36%), Mercedes A-Class (+74%), Renault Mégane (+236%) and Peugeot 3008 (+267%) all posting spectacular year-on-year gains. The Toyota C-HR jumps 43 spots on last month to #68 and the Audi A2 is up 17 to #70.

Previous month: Italy November 2016: Fiat Tipo back up to 4th place

One year ago: Italy December 2015: Fiat 500X stays on podium, Tucson & Kadjar up

Full December 2016 Top 45 All-brands and Top 185 models below.

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Italy November 2016: Fiat Tipo back up to 4th place

fiat-tipo-italy-november-2016-picture-courtesy-honestjohn-co-ukFiat Tipo

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The Italian new car market slows down its growth in November at +8.2% year-on-year to 145.835 registrations, bringing the year-to-date tally up 16.5% to 1.699.944 units. However this gain is almost entirely the work of a 28% increase in company sales reaching 21.5% share (+3.2 point) and in line with a year-to-date 26% increase to 18.1% share. This is the result of anticipation of purchases to take advantage to the Superammortamento tax benefit due to end in 2017. Private sales are up 5.2% and 13.3% year-to-date resulting in a declining 61.6% market share (-1.6 points) while rental sales are up just 2.4% (short-term rentals down 20% but long-term up 11.3%) vs. a 16.8% increase year-to-date. All-in-all, UNRAE predicts a Full Year 2016 tally of 1.830.000 (+16.1%) and 2017 up just 6% to 1.945.000 units.

Hyundai Tucson Italy November 2016. Picture courtesy itempo.noFirst Top 10 ranking for Hyundai in 2016.

Market leader Fiat follows the market at +8% to 20.7% share, close to its 21.1% YTD level. Volkswagen (+11%) remains in 2nd place while Renault (+16%) overtakes Ford (-0.2%) to take third spot. All the following manufacturers outperform the market inside the Top 10: Peugeot (+13%), Toyota (+16%), Audi (+25%), Mercedes (+15%) and Hyundai (+25%) breaking into the Top 10 brands for the first time in 2016. Further down, notice Jeep (+28%), Alfa Romeo (+36%), Seat (+24%), Skoda (+20%) and Honda (+57%) with Jaguar (+183%), Maserati (+160%) and Infiniti (+450%) literally taking off.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Italy November 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Giulia pushes Alfa Romeo up 36%.

Model-wise, the Fiat Panda soars 33% to 13.197 deliveries, over three times its closest follower the Lancia Ypsilon at 4.379 (+2%). The Renault Clio (+9%) leaps onto the podium just as the Fiat 500L (-8%) falls flat at #10. But the big surprise in the Top 10 is the Fiat Tipo back up 10 spots on October to a splendid 4th place with 3.545 sales. The station wagon variant has now shifted into gear: it is the best-seller in its segment for the first time this month with 1.210 sales, ahead of YTD leader the Audi A4 (1.010), the VW Passat (967) and Peugeot 308 (749).

italy-november-2016-by-channelSales by channel (Privati=Private sales, Noleggio=Rental sales, Società=Company sales) 

Notice also the Jeep Renegade up 44% to #9 but both the Fiat 500X (-25%) and Punto (-36%) struggling. Further down, a slew of recently relaunched SUVs are posting spectacular scores: the VW Tiguan is up 224% to #19, the Hyundai Tucson up 47% to #20, the BMW X1 up 62% to #33 and the Peugeot 3008 up 321% to #36. Among passenger cars, the Mercedes A-Class is up 36% to #26, the Hyundai i10 up 50% to #28, the Audi A4 up 73% to #39, the Opel Astra up 35% to #44 and the Kia Rio up 39% to #47. The Alfa Romeo Giulia misses out on a Top 50 ranking for a mere 58 sales.

Previous month: Italy October 2016: Rental sales spruce market up 10%

One year ago: Italy November 2015: Fiat 500X on podium

Full November 2016 Top 45 brands and Top 180 models below.

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Italy October 2016: Rental sales spruce market up 10%

lancia-ypsilon-italy-october-2016Not dead: now a single-model brand, Lancia is up 30% at home in October. 

* NOW UPDATED with the the Top 40 brands and Top 180 models – click on title to see *

The September 2016 post has now been updated with the Top 180 models

The Italian new car market is up 10% year-on-year in October to 146.632 registrations, bringing the year-to-date tally up 17% to 1.553.394, some 220.000 units ahead of the result reached during the same period last year. Local association UNRAE confirmed its forecast of 1.850.000 sales for the full year 2016, which would be the best year in Italy since 2010. For 2017, UNRAE predicts a 5.4% growth to 1.945.000 deliveries. Dampening the enthusiasm this month is the paltry performance of private sales down 4% to 88.491 and 59.6% share vs. 68.1% a year ago… Sales to rental companies are pushing the market forward with a staggering 44.6% gain to 26.203, with short-term rentals taking off at +123% and long-term up 30%. Business sales are up 34.6% to 33.712, spruced up by government incentives.

infiniti-qx30-italy-october-2016Thanks to the Q30 and QX30 (pictured), Infiniti sales are up 616% in Italy this month.

Market leader Fiat gains slightly less ground than the market at +7% to 29.582 units and 20.2% share vs. 21.2% year-to-date, followed by Volkswagen (+20%) and Ford (+11%). In fact, the Top 7 best-selling brands are identical to September and to the year-to-date order with Renault (+6%), Opel (+8%), Peugeot (+14%) and Toyota (+15%) in tow. Mercedes (+14%), BMW (+20%) and Lancia (+30%) round up the Top 10 and all outpace the market. Further down, notice Hyundai (+21%), Subaru (+24%), Skoda (+31%), Alfa Romeo (+32%), Jeep (+33%), Honda (+59%), Maserati (+115%), Jaguar (+177%) and Infiniti (+616%) all posting impressive results.

abarth-124-italy-october-2016Old and new: the Abarth 124 

Over in the models ranking, the Fiat Panda continues its decline at -6% but remains frankly in the lead at 7.9% share, more than double the sales of the #2, the Lancia Ypsilon prepped up by a recent facelift at +31% to 5.448 sales and 3.7% share. The Fiat 500L more than ever benefits from the strength of rental sales in Italy with deliveries up 49% year-on-year to 3.823 and cementing its third position YTD. The Ford Fiesta (+21%), VW Golf (+17%) and Fiat 500 (+47%) also shine inside the Top 10 while outside, the Jeep Renegade (+48%), Peugeot 208 (+20%), Nissan Qashqai (+23%) and Hyundai Tucson (+42%) impress. Boosted by new models, the VW Tiguan (+264%), Opel Astra (+156%), BMW X1 (+190%) and Toyota RAV4 (+152%) take off.

suzuki-ignis-italy-october-2016-picture-courtesy-red-live-itThe Suzuki Ignis has landed in Europe – first in Italy.

No less than five new nameplates make their first appearance inside the Italian Top 180 this month. They are led by the Audi Q2 landing directly at 110 sales with almost a quarter of a thousand sales for its first month in market. Below is the Abarth 124 arriving at #139, the Hyundai Ioniq at #147, the Volvo V90 at #175 and the Suzuki Ignis at #180, marking the first European country to allow Suzuki’s latest entrant into its sales charts.

Previous month: Italy September 2016: Fiat 500L and VW Polo shine in market up 17%

One year ago: Italy October 2015: Hyundai Tucson and Renault Kadjar shoot up

Full October 2016 Top 40 brands and Top 180 models below.

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Italy September 2016: Fiat 500L and VW Polo shine in market up 17%

Fiat 500L Italy September 2016Short-term rentals push the Fiat 500L back onto the Italian podium. 

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The August 2016 post has now been updated with the Top 180 models

The Italian new car market is up by a very robust 17.4% year-on-year in September to 153.617 units, the exact same growth rate by the year-to-date tally after nine months to 1.406.035. Local association UNRAE forecasts a Full Year score of 1.850.000 units which would be the best annual result since 2010. Rental sales boost the market with an overall 38.4% year-on-year surge to 17% share, thanks to short-term rentals shooting up 79% and long term up 31%. Reversely, this month private sales frankly lag behind with a meagre 4.8% increase, bringing their share down to 59.7% whereas they are in line with the overall market growth year-to-date at +16.2%, accounting for 61.7% of the market total.

Lancia Ypsilon Italy September 2016The Lancia Ypsilon beats the market at +19% in 2nd place overall. 

Market leader Fiat follows the market at +16% to 20.8% share, slightly below its YTD level of 21.3%. Volkswagen soars 44% to 8.3% of the market, frankly distancing Ford at 6.6% (+12%), Renault at 5.7% (+34%), Opel at 5.3% (+3%), Peugeot at 4.8% (+9%) and Toyota at 4.1% (+4%). Inside the Top 10, only BMW (+25%) and Lancia (+19%) manage to outpace the market. Below, notice Smart (+24%), Hyundai (+25%), Skoda (+39%), Jeep (+47%), Alfa Romeo (+48%), Land Rover (+91%) and Honda (+132%). Among smaller volume brands, Lexus (+63%), Jaguar (+65%), Maserati (+116%) and Infiniti (+397%) take off.

vw-polo-italy-september-2016-picture-courtesy-quattroruote-itVW Polo sales are up a whopping 90% year-on-year in Italy in September. 

Model-wise, the Fiat Panda marks a pause, down a disappointing 11% to 12.277 sales and 7.9%. That’s however still more than double the deliveries of its direct follower, the Lancia Ypsilon up a splendid 19% to 5.320 units and 3.4%. Potentially helped by strong short-term rental sales, the Fiat 500L surges 69% to return to the Italian podium for the first time since last June and remains the 500 family’s best-seller despite the recent facelift of the 500 up 82% to #6 and the arrival of the 500X up 22% to #7. The VW Polo delivers the largest gain in the Top 15 at a whopping +90%, with the Jeep Renegade (+56%), Hyundai Tucson (+102%) and VW Tiguan (+170%) also impressive. On top of the Panda, two additional Fiats disappoint this month: at #11 the Punto slips out of the Top 10 for the 2nd time ever after last January, and after breaking onto the podium for the first time last month the Fiat Tipo falls down 10 spots to #13 with 2.905 sales including 637 station wagons.

Previous month: Italy August 2016: Tipo nameplate back on podium after 25 years

One year ago: Italy September 2015: Fiat Panda hits 10.5% share, highest in 25 years

One year ago (detailed data): Italy September 2015: Now with Top 180 models

Full September 2016 Top 42 brands and Top 180 models below.

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Italy August 2016: Tipo nameplate back on podium after 25 years

Fiat Tipo Italy August 2016. Picture courtesy auto.czThe Fiat Tipo is the #3 best-selling vehicle in Italy in August. Picture auto.cz

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The July 2016 post has now been updated with the Top 180 models

After marking a slight pause in July (+3%), the Italian new car market returns to double-digit year-on-year gains in August with a splendid 20% increase to 71.576 units, lifting the year-to-date tally up 17% to 1.251.806 according to the Ministry of Transport. Private sales are strong at +18.5% to 67.4% share and +17.7% and 62% share year-to-date, sales to rental car companies are stronger at +24% to 13.1% share with short-term rentals up a mammoth 59%. Year-to-date, rentals are up 14.2% to 21.5% share. Company sales are up 23.5% to 19.5% share compared to +22 and 16.5% share so far this year. Strong gains across all channels with no channel crippling the rest of the market, which is the mark of a healthy market.

Jeep Renegade Italy August 2016The Jeep Renegade hits a record-breaking 8th place in Italy this month.

In the brands ranking, homegrown king Fiat manages once again to outpace its home market with a 27% improvement to 14.692 sales and 20.5% share, with its direct followers all losing share year-on-year: Volkswagen (+5%), Ford (+6%) and Opel (+8%). Inside the Top 10, Renault (+23%), Citroen (+27%) are also strong while Dacia stuns with a 87% surge to #9, the brand’s second ever stint among Italy’s Top 10 brands after July 2014 (#7). Further down, let’s single out Skoda (+42%), Mercedes (+57%), Honda (+131%), Land Rover (+138%), Maserati (+273%), Jaguar (+319%), Lexus (+321%), Ferrari (+417%), Great Wall (+671%) and Infiniti (+950%) all posting spectacular gains, the majority of them thanks to a new SUV offering.

Fiat Tipo Italy 1988 Fiat Tipo Italy 1988 backThe last time the Fiat Tipo ranked on the Italian podium, it looked like this. 

Below the Fiat Panda very strong at +22% and the Lancia Ypsilon sliding down 1%, the main event in the Italian models charts in August is the very first podium ranking of the all-new Fiat Tipo thanks to 2.170 sales and 3% share. It is the first time since 1991 that the Tipo nameplate appears on the Italian monthly podium. Originally launched in January 1988, the first generation Tipo was an instant blockbuster with 22.150 units sold in March 1988 alone, 217.410 over the Full Year 1988 (holding a 13.8% market share in December) and 262.520 in 1989. It was also a “one-hit wonder”, quickly losing steam and replaced in 1995 by the Bravo/Brava duo. August 2016 sees the arrival of the Tipo Station Wagon variant with 172 sales, placing it at #9 in the segment’s ranking in-between the Clio (174) and the BMW 3 Series (168). Note the hatch and sedan variants alone (1.998 sales) would have still landed the Tipo on the podium.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Carabinieri Italy August 2016. Picture courtesy slashgear.comFirst Top 50 for the new Alfa Giulia, with a little help from the Carabinieri… Photo slashgear

The 500L (#4), Punto (#6), 500X (#7) and 500 (#9) make it six Fiats inside the Italian Top 10 in August but the other star of the ranking is the Jeep Renegade: thanks to deliveries soaring 77% year-on-year, the mini-SUV hits a record-breaking 8th place overall, the model’s second ever incursion in the Top 10 after December 2014 (#10). The Dacia Sandero (+124%), Renault Captur (+78%), Dacia Duster (+81%), VW Tiguan (+218%), Peugeot 208 (+61%), Ford Ecosport (+148%), Audi A4 (+124%) and Kia Rio (+67%) also shine in the Top 30. The BMW X1 goes from a mere 6 sales in August 2015 to 634 this month, earning a brilliant 32nd spot and BMW’s best-seller in Italy. Finally, the Alfa Romeo Giulia breaks into the Top 50 for the first time at #46.

Previous month: Italy July 2016: Hatchback lifts Fiat Tipo to 7th place

One year ago: Italy August 2015: 2 Series Active Tourer is BMW’s best-seller

Full August 2016 Top 45 brands and Top 180 models below.

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Italy July 2016: Hatchback lifts Fiat Tipo to 7th place

Fiat Tipo Italy July 2016. Picture courtesy quattroruote.itFiat Tipo. Picture courtesy quattroruote.it

* Now updated with the Top 45 All-brands and Top 180 models – see title *

The June 2016 and H1 2016 posts have now been updated with the Top 180 models

New car sales in Italy slow down their growth in July to just +3% at 137.367 registrations, but the year-to-date total is still up by a very comfortable 17% to 1.189.161. Worryingly, July sales detail display the first year-on-year decline for price sales in 2016 at -6% to 86.451 for a 62.9% share, a 6 points drop vs. a year ago. Short-term rental sales on the other hand are up a whopping 58%, and with long-term rentals (aka leases) up 14%, overall rental sales are up 22% to 21.856 units or 15.9% share. Another red flag that consumer confidence may be about to dip is the first decline of the year for the used car market, down 6% to 382.689 transfers in July, with a year-to-date market up 5.5% to 2.838.956.

Renault Clio Italy July 2016Renault is up 16% and the Clio is still the best-selling foreigner in Italy.

Brand-wise, Fiat remains the uncontested leader, evolving roughly like the market at +5% to 29.290 sales and 21.5% share, distancing Volkswagen (-7%), Ford (+4%), Renault (+16%), Opel (-13%) and Peugeot (-8%), an order identical to both the 2016 year-to-date and Full Year 2015 rankings. The three German luxury premium carmakers all grow faster than the market, with Audi up 8% (#8), Mercedes up 20% (#7) and BMW up 24% (#9). Other strong performers in Italy in July include Jeep/Dodge (+19%), Mini (+24%), Land Rover (+28%), Mazda (+35%), SsangYong (+65%), Honda (+93%), Jaguar (+170%) and Infiniti (+775%).

Mercedes GLE Coupe Italy July 2016Mercedes sales are up 20% year-on-year in July in Italy. 

The Fiat Panda is still and by far the best-selling nameplate at home in Italy but at -2% to 10.990 sales it posts its first year-on-year decline since August 2015, also putting an end to 7 consecutive months of double-digit gains. The Lancia Ypsilon is up 1% to #2, the Fiat Punto is down 22% year-on-year but up two spots on June to #3, the Renault Clio is up 5% to remain at #4 and the Fiat 500L is up 20% to #5. Now that the hatchback variant is now available in dealerships across the country, the Fiat Tipo shoots up 10 spots on last month to break into the Top 10 for the first time (for this generation) at #7 with 3.161 sales and 2.3% share, taking the lead of its segment above the VW Golf (#10).

Maserati Levante Italy July 2016The Maserati Levante has landed at home in Italy.

Further down, notice also the Jeep Renegade up 33% to #14, the Dacia Sandero surging 78% to #16, the Hyundai Tucson up to #22, Ford Ecosport up 62% to #27, the BMW X1 up 942% to #39 and the Toyota RAV4 up 101% to #54. Among recent launches, the Mercedes GLC is up 15 ranks on June to #58, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is down 25 to #85, the Mercedes GLE up 34 to #106, the Citroen C-Elysee soars to #107 (it is already very popular in Sardinia as you can discover in our latest Photo Report) and the Jaguar F-Pace is up 8 to #108, already selling at 3 times the rate of the next best-selling Jaguar in Italy (the XE). Finally, we welcome the Maserati Levante and Seat Ateca within the Italian Top 180 this month, with the Volvo S90 and Tesla Model S not far behind.

Previous post: Italy First Half 2016: Fiat tightens grip on home market up 19%

Previous month: Italy June 2016: Renault up 58% to keep Volkswagen at bay

One year ago: Italy July 2015: Fiat 500X up to #7, best-seller in the 500 family

Full July 2016 Top 45 All-brands and Top 180 models below.

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Photo Report: Driving a Fiat Panda through Sardinia, Italy

Panda Blu sunsetEsmeralda, our “Panda blu”

After exploring remote areas of the Chinese Sichuan Province, we now fly over to the European summer, more precisely in Sardinia, an Italian island located west of the mainland and south of the French Corsica island in the Mediterranean Sea. Our itinerary goes around the island anticlockwise, starting and ending in Olbia on the north-eastern coast and exploring such wonders as the Costa Smeralda, the jetset cities of Porto Rotondo and Porto Cervo, the stunning archipelago of La Maddalena…

1. Fiat 500X Bosa SardiniaFiat 500X and Lancia Ypsilon in Bosa, Sardinia (click on any picture to enlarge).

… Santa Teresa de Gallura from where we can clearly see the Corsican coast, Castelsardo, Alghero, Bosa, San Salvatore, Cagliari, Terra Male and Cala Gonone (see map below). It’s a total of 1.450km over six days – many thanks to Audrey for putting on the driving cap every second day. Our ride in Sardinia is, logically, a rental Fiat Panda. The Panda is the current best-selling vehicle in Italy with 8% market share and sales up 23% so far in 2016, but also the #1 vehicle in the rental car sales charts in 2015.

Sardinia mapThe itinerary: from Olbia to Olbia, via Alghero, Bosa and Cagliari.

After Albert the Ram 1500 in our U.S. Coast to Coast 2014 exploration, Bob the Ram 2500 in our U.S. North to South 2015 Report, Charlie the Jeep Wrangler in our Hawaii 2016 Report and Damo the Haval H8 of our Australian Outback adventure, the next BSCB ride had to get a name starting with E. We chose to baptise our “Panda blu” Esmeralda, the first female name we choose at BSCB, simply because this is the first “car” we drive as opposed to the “trucks” we had before. In French, my native language, a car is feminine and a truck is masculine, and therein lies the rationale behind all our name choices.

2. Fiat Panda Cagliari SardiniaFiat Panda II in CagliariFiat Panda Bosa SardiniaFiat Panda I in Bosa

But why “Panda blu” I hear you ask. Upon arriving long after sunset in the tiny northern village of Aglientu, we asked our way to a group of Italian mammas gossiping on the sidewalk. One of them promptly picked up her mobile phone to directly call the manager of the accommodation we were staying at and give her directions to come pick us up. Description of our car: “una panda blu” – said in the endearing singing voice of all Italian mammas. That would be because our Panda was blue (same pronunciation in Italian). We thought it rang well, even better than Esmeralda. So it would be our “Panda blu” from then on. But patience: the full Panda blu review is further down in this article.

Fiat Panda Palau Sardinia 2Fiat Panda III in PalauFiat Seicento Bosa SardiniaFiat Seicento and Panda I in Bosa

The most frequent nameplates spotted over the entirety of the trip, from various tiny town streets to large autostradas, were without a second thought the Fiat Panda followed by the Punto, in this way reflecting the past decade of new car sales in Italy as a whole and aligning Sardinia with the rest of the country. The Panda has indeed just overstepped the Punto for the first time in the Past decade sales charts (see table below). All generations of the two nameplates are very well represented, but a striking observation is the high frequency of first generation Pandas (1980-2003) compared to the near-absence of any Fiat Uno (1983-1995). Granted, the Uno had a much shorter lifespan but it obliterated the Italian sales charts then, culminating at 23.8% share in 1986.

Best-selling nameplates in Italy – Past decade (2006-2015):

Pos Model 2006-2015
1 Fiat Panda 1,370,026
2 Fiat Punto 1,366,027
3 Ford Fiesta 673,429
4 Lancia Ypsilon 539,357
5 Fiat 500 490,096
6 VW Golf 468,922
7 Citroen C3 433,532
8 Toyota Yaris 414,806
9 Opel Corsa 401,772
10 VW Polo 374,272

Source: UNRAE

Time has passed since that domination though, and not many Unos have survived up to this day. Instead, the first generation Panda, inside the annual podium during most of its 24 year-career (it ranked #2 in 2002!), has left a much stronger mark on today’s Sardinian car landscape. The 2nd generation Panda, #2 in Italy during its entire career (20042011), is the most frequent vehicle on the Sardinian coast, slowly being caught up by the 3rd gen which has led its home market without interruption since its first full year of sales in 2012, ending then 18 consecutive years of Punto domination.

Citroen Mehari La Maddalena SardiniaCitroen Méhari in La Maddalena.

During all our worldwide explorations, we often declare cars as the heroes of a specific region as they appear to be particularly successful there. Sardinia has two heroes.

1. Citroen Méhari

Just as the cumbersome e-Mehari makes its entrance in Europe, the first Sardinian hero is the valiant Citroen Méhari (1968-1988), a kind of ancestor to the off-road convertible SUV. This observation is particularly valid in the archipelago of La Maddalena, in a way an island of an island. Méharis stream through La Maddalena, the main town of the island, to the point that it’s not uncommon to have at least one in our field of vision at any given time – see picture below with 3 Méharis “at once”. The perfect summer car even almost 50 years after its original launch and 28 after its discontinuation, the Méhari would remain a surprising symbol of this Sardinian trip.

Citroen Mehari x3 La Maddalena SardiniaThere are three Citroen Méharis on this picture – in La Maddalena.

For a bit of history, 144.953 Méharis were produced in twenty years. Originally, a méhari is a fast-running camel which can be used for racing or transport, this according to Wikipedia. The Méhari weighs just 535 kg (1,179 lb), has a body made of ABS plastic with a soft top and is based on the Citroen Dyane 6. It employs the 602cc flat twin petrol engine shared with the 2CV6 and Citroen Ami, similarly to the way the mechanical parts of the 1960 Mini became the 1964 Mini Moke. And it’s fair to say Sardinians are still in love with this endearing vehicle. Plus, my observations throughout the island showed the Citroen brand surprisingly strong with a continuous stream of 1st gen C3, the C-Elysée already common as well as many C3 Picasso, new C4 Picasso and 1st gen Xsara Picasso.

Land Rover Defender Bosa SardiniaLand Rover Defender in Bosa
Land Rover Defender San Salvatore SardiniaLand Rover Defender in San Salvatore 

2. Land Rover Defender

Second hero of the island, the just discontinued Land Rover Defender was a true surprise. Sardinia has a very modern road network serving the very touristy coastline, and the first impression is that this shouldn’t require any vehicle to have any particular 4WD abilities. But once venturing inland it’s a vastly different story. In no time, the network transforms into tiny winding roads making their way up the relatively high mountains populating the centre of the island, notwithstanding a multitude of rocky dirt tracks that we did not dare explore. The Defender thus became a staple of the Sardinian inland, along with its license plates always starting with ZA. This is not a separate 4WD categorisation as I first thought, rather the mandatory lettering when your rear plate is square – one of the many intricacies of the Italian license plates system.

Citroen C1 Land Rover Defender Bosa SardiniaCitroen C1 in Bosa
Fiat Panda 500 Palau SardiniaFiat Panda and 500 in Palau

Italy Full Year 2015 – sales to rental companies:

Pos Model 2015 % % rental /14 2014 % Pos
1 Fiat Panda 24,726 7.9% 20% -6% 26,346 10.0% 1
2 Fiat 500L 22,721 7.3% 46% 10% 20,656 7.8% 2
3 Fiat 500 13,615 4.4% 33% -20% 17,046 6.4% 3
4 Peugeot 308 9,130 2.9% 51% n/a n/a n/a n/a
5 VW Golf 8,799 2.8% 22% 14% 7,722 2.9% 6
6 Fiat 500X 8,196 2.6% 25% new 0 0.0%
7 Fiat Punto 7,739 2.5% 14% -36% 12,003 4.5% 4
8 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 7,329 2.3% 32% 32% 5,539 2.1% 9
9 Lancia Ypsilon 7,251 2.3% 13% -12% 8,240 3.1% 5
10 Renault Clio 7,182 2.3% 17% 10% 6,529 2.5% 7

Source: UNRAE

Being a touristic hotspot, the Sardinian car park is heavily influenced by rental cars such as our Panda blu, with the Fiat Panda incidentally the most popular vehicle with Italian rental companies in 2015 ahead of the Fiat 500L, for which a staggering 46% of its 2015 total sales are to rental companies (see table above). Only the Peugeot 308 does “better” (51%) in the Top 10. Up 10% last year vs. a 6% drop by the Panda, the 500L should logically take the lead of the rental sales charts this year, and indeed it is omnipresent on Sardinian roads, as well as the facelifted Fiat 500, #3 rental in 2015. The Fiat 500X is also strong in Sardinia, but at 25% rental ratio it falls closer to the national average (20%) which could indicate it is also particularly successful with private buyers here.

Alghero street scene SardiniaStreet scene in Alghero

Another striking observation in Sardinia – even though it is true in the whole of Italy – is the prevalence of station wagons in the larger car segments. For example, the new generation VW Passat is extremely frequent on Sardinian roads – partly because of its popularity as a rental car – yet I only spotted one sedan in six days. All the rest, probably close to fifty specimens, were station wagons. Even though the station wagon segment has been hit full frontal by the SUV craze and in sharp decline in the whole of Europe bar Sweden, sales in Italy remain solid at 87.614 over the first 7 months of 2016, a whopping 17% year-on-year increase earning it a stable 7.4% market share. The Audi A4 is the best-seller so far in 2016 but it will be interesting to follow the launch of the Tipo SW over the 2nd half of the year as it is the only true Italian offer in a particularly successful segment, and therefore could be destined to huge success.

Italy 7 months 2016 – station wagon sales:

Pos Model 7m 2016 % % SW /15 7m 2015 % Pos
1 Audi A4 8,131 9.3% 90% 56% 5,210 7.0% 4
2 Peugeot 308 7,942 9.1% 59% 21% 6,545 8.7% 1
3 VW Passat 6,386 7.3% 90% 21% 5,268 7.0% 3
4 Ford Focus 6,319 7.2% 61% 9% 5,781 7.7% 2
5 Renault Clio 5,925 6.8% 18% 38% 4,284 5.7% 5
6 BMW 3 Series 5,798 6.6% 81% 44% 4,026 5.4% 7
7 Skoda Octavia 4,657 5.3% 95% 17% 3,987 5.3% 8
8 Opel Astra 4,603 5.3% 56% 10% 4,203 5.6% 6
9 Toyota Auris 3,796 4.3% 58% 12% 3,382 4.5% 10
10 VW Golf 3,177 3.6% 11% 6% 2,999 4.0% 11

Source: UNRAE

The Renault Clio (#5) is the only small car in the Top 10 SW with 1 in 5 Clio sold being a station wagon, and this is confirmed looking at the Sardinian car landscape: the occurrence of Clio SW is a lot higher than at home in France for example. Compact cars occupy five spots in the Top 10 including the Peugeot 308 at #2 (#1 in 2015) and the Ford Focus at #3 with an average of 60% SW ratio except for the Golf (11%). Larger cars are almost exclusively sold as station wagons in Italy and this is a particularity of the local market: no other market in the world behaves this way. Confirming my observations in Sardinia, 90% of Audi A4 and VW Passats are sold as SW, 81% of BMW 3 Series and 95% of Skoda Octavia…

Jeep Renegade La Maddalena SardiniaJeep Renegade in La MaddalenaRenault Clio Bosa SardiniaRenault Clio in Bosa

Sardinian new car sales outpaced Italy as a whole in 2015 at +18% to 25.293 units vs. +16% nationwide. The largest provinces are Cagliari at 9.886 (+18%), Sassari at 6.131 (+24%), Olbia-Tempio at 2.225 (-0.6%) and Carbonia Iglesias at 1.943 (+26%). The smallest is Ogliastra at 603 (+33%). Other popular vehicles across the island include the Jeep Renegade – particularly in La Maddalena as pictured above, the Renault Clio and Captur, Smart Forfour and the Fiat Tipo sedan already although I spotted only one hatch all week.

Panda Blu Sicily by CarOur Panda blu.

Our Panda blu was a rental from Sicily by Car (weird) – by far the cheapest option at 309.75€ for 6 days (US$346) – and a solid companion all through the trip, with no gremlins to report. Sitting inside places you too high in the car – regardless of your height – and the seat is not adjustable that way. There is no USB port which meant no personal music the entire trip, only a… CD player as if tourists were still travelling around with all their music on CDs. The interior design on the other hand is one of the strengths of the car: it’s modern yet playful while replicating the rounded square theme that characterises the car as a whole (headlights…), such as for the hand brake.

Panda Blu detailPanda Blu interior detail: it has its name written all over it… 

Very creative: the letters of the word PANDA make up the texture of the console and interior door top skin (see picture above). Definitely some Italian design flair here. The gear shift placed on the central console – and not on the ground – ends up being quite comfortable in the long run. Pushing our Panda blu to 145 km/h (90 mph) resulted in no notable vibrating or shaking of the car but the small bumps on the autostrada sent the car’s backend a little loose – scary. Above 100 km/h (62 mph), a strident whistling makes its apparition at the base of the driver door window frame, potentially the result of imperfect joints. The car remains relatively silent at high speed though.

Panda Blu Ferry SardiniaOur Panda blu on the Palau-La Maddalena ferry

The overall impression is one of practicality and fun modernity, a car that will do the job and put a smile on your face while driving, all-in-all a very good result given the cut-throat starting price of 8.250€ (US$ 9.230) the Panda is offered at in Italy. No wonder it’s the best-seller here.

Fiat Multipla Cagliari SardiniaFiat Multipla in Cagliari
Maserati Levante Porto Cervo SardiniaMaserati Levante in Porto Cervo
Audi Costa Smeralda SardiniaAudi advertising in Porto CervoAutostrada 50kph limitation Sardinia50km/h speed limit on the “autostrada”

Finally, I couldn’t end this summer Photo Report without a few hand-picked particularities of Sardinia, with an automotive angle of course. Firstly, the autostradas are new and very well maintained, but sometimes tout a 50km/h (31 mph) speed limit… Given the frequency of ridiculously low speed limits popping up everywhere on the island, we came to the conclusion that it was the only way the Sardinian police had found to shock drivers into driving slightly slower. It’s not working: a rule-of-thumb is that it is ok to drive at 3 times the speed limit. 30km/h means 90, 50 means 150, etc… Yep, this is the wild, wild west.
Talking about the wild west, every service station has at least one bay where staff is supposed to fill up your tank for you, at a premium. You must try and find the bay that says “piuself” as sometimes the price difference per litre can verge on the nasty side of outrageous: one Esso servo had a self-serve price of 1.389 € per litre whereas the “rip-off” price was 1.639 €/L, with no indications anywhere whatsoever and no staff to serve you anywhere anyway! Advice from experience: make sure to read the price/L on the actual pump before starting to fill up. Sneaky, but we are in Italy after all.

Mini WoodyClubman by Castagna Porto Cervo SardiniaMini WoodyClubman by Castagna Porto Cervo Sardinia 2Mini WoodyClubman by Castagna in Porto Cervo

The Photo Report continues below with the remainder of the 40 Pictures.
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