USA August 2014: Honda Accord, Toyota RAV4 at all-time high

September 14th, 2014 8 comments

Honda Accord USA August 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe Honda Accord hits its highest-ever monthly volume in the US this month.

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 261 All-models and Top 38 brands! See title *

U.S. light vehicle sales, led by double-digit increases at Chrysler Group and Nissan Motor Corp, remained robust in August, helped by Labor Day holiday deals and continued demand for light trucks and crossovers: up 6% year-on-year to 1.586.374 units and bringing the year-to-date total to 11.191.068 sales, up 5% on 2013. Chrysler posted a 20% increase amid surging sales of the Ram pickup (+33% and best August since 2003) and Jeep brand (+49%). Nissan advanced 12%, Toyota Motor Corp. had its 6th consecutive monthly gain, up 6%. Deliveries slipped 1% at General Motors and were up slightly at Ford Motor Co. The Volkswagen brand continued to slump, down 13% percent, but sibling Audi gained 22% as strong A3 sedan sales propelled the brand to its best monthly US sales tally in company history at 17,101 vehicles in August.

Audi A3 USA August 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe New A3 sedan pushes Audi to its best-ever monthly result in the US.

The seasonally adjusted annualised pace of sales – a key barometer of the industry’s health – soared to 17.5 million. The US auto industry last saw a 17 million light-vehicle SAAR in July 2006 and a 17.5 million SAAR in January 2006. “August’s industry sales results are looking even stronger than anticipated, which is a good sign for the industry,” said Fred Diaz, Nissan’s senior vice president for sales and marketing, and US operations. “The industry had its best August in over a decade with sales topping 1.5 million vehicles,” Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, said in a statement.

Jeep Wrangler USA August 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comJeep US sales are up 49% year-on-year in August .

In the models ranking, below the Ford F-Series down 4% to 68,109 sales, the Honda Accord is up 3 spots on July and 32% on August 2013 to simply deliver the nameplate’s best-ever monthly volume since its introduction in the country over 30 years ago at 51,075 units! An astounding performance from Honda, however the Toyota Camry still leads the passenger car race by far at 306,471 sales so far in 2014 (+7%) vs. 265,673 for the Accord (+3%). Another all-time record breaker this month is the Toyota RAV4: after lifting its all-time high to 26,779 sales in July, it smashes this record only one month later, bringing it to 35,614 units, up 52% year-on-year and earning the nameplate a 6th place, also its best-ever monthly ranking in the US, also reached in March 2010…

Acura TLX USA August 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe Acura TLX lands directly at #136 in the US this month.

As far as recent launches are concerned, notice the Audi A3 up a further two spots to #132 with 2,430 sales, the Lincoln MKC also up two to #157, the Ford Transit up 31 to #177, the BMW i3 up a beautiful 37 ranks on July to #182 with 1,025 units and the BMW X4 up 12 to #220. Finally, we welcome 3 all-new models in the US ranking this month: the Acura TLX at #136 with 2,286 sales, the Audi Q3 enjoying a late arrival in the country at #235 and 243 units for now and the BMW i8 landing at #260 with 9 sales in August.

Previous post: USA 7 months 2014: Discover the Top 270 models

Previous month: USA July 2014: Toyota RAV4 at all-time record in market up 9%

One year ago: USA August 2013: Honda CR-V and Chevrolet Equinox hit record levels

Full August 2014 Top 261 All-models and Top 38 brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: USA

Iran August 2014: Saipa Tiba above Iran Khodro Samand

September 14th, 2014 No comments

Saipa Tiba Iran April 2014Change of guard in progress: the Saipa Tiba is above the Iran Khodro Samand this month.

* See the Top 8 most produced local models by clicking on the title! Thanks OD *

As is the tradition on BSCB, Iranian monthly data reflects production, not sales but it actually gives a relatively close picture of the most popular cars in the country given the high import duties. In the Persian calendar, August 2014 is roughly equivalent to the 5th month of the Persian year 1393, Mordad. The Iranian automobile industry continues its recovery with production up 84% year-on-year in Mordad to 64,297 units, bringing the 1393 year-to-date total to 391,969 units after 5 months, more than double the score of one year ago. The Top 3 models all progress but slower than the market: the Saipa Pride is up 55%, the Peugeot Pars up 59% and the Peugeot 405 up 50%. In 4th position the Peugeot 206 is reborn again at +190% to 6,817 units while the Saipa Tiba is up one spot on last month to #5 with 6,211 units produced, up 171% year-on-year. This means the Tiba is above the Iran Khodro to become the 2nd most produced native Iranian model for the first time in a ‘normal’ context, the only other one being in April 2013 when overall production was down to just 22,000 units. A change of guard in progress?

Previous month: Iran July 2014: Peugeot 206 comes back to life

One year ago: Iran August 2013: Renault withdraws, Peugeot Pars up 32%

Full Mordad 1393 / August 2014 Top 8 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: Iran

US Coast to Coast: Driving through Virginia, North & South Carolina

September 13th, 2014 1 comment

Nissan Rogue Virginia. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comNot my picture, but the Hero of the Day: the Nissan Rogue

After New York City and Washington DC, we continue South on the Interstate 95 Highway to cross Virginia via a detour to Williamsburg, then North and South Carolina to arrive in Charleston. As soon as we leave the Washington urban area, the vehicle landscape starts to progressively change to allow more pick-up trucks on the road. My Ram 1500 4×4 (Albert) is now starting to feel less out of his comfort zone and more and more at home…

Before I share with you in detail the vehicle landscape I encountered in this part of the trip, now that I have driven over 750 miles (1200 km) on US roads I thought it would be a good time to give you my first impressions on what driving in the United States feels like. I have just spent the past couple of months in Southern Europe where driving is a tiring chest-bumping sport aimed at showing who’s boss on the road. The French have had to be beaten into submission by hundreds of unforgiving speed radars for the most part located in unclear or lower speed limit zones to maximise revenue, but that hasn’t deterred many radar-savvy locals to flash through the highway at over 130 mph (200 km/h).

New York-CharlestonUS Coast to Coast trip so far

However to this day I still am yet to spot a true American lunatic driving frankly dangerously – and I will be just fine if I never do. I have found American highways one of the most relaxing and predictable driving experiences of my life. Unlike in Australia where effective advertising campaigns have convinced car owners to drive 5 km/h below the speed limit (true story), Yankees all pretty much drive at speed limit or slightly above, and there are no sluggish cars to disrupt the traffic, making us look like we are all in cruise controlled trains enjoying the landscape and waving at each other hands-free.

RAM 1500 Ford Fusion EmporiaAlbert next to a Ford Fusion in Emporia VA

I have learnt that to insert myself fluidly into US highway traffic a good idea is to drive 5 mph above the speed limit, which goes as high as 70mph (113km/h). I may or may not have done that… It’s a high enough difference to satisfyingly beat all Google Maps route duration predictions by a large margin (the tradesman trim of my Ram does not have a sat nav), but small enough to avoid bothering local sheriffs… so far. While European driving is unmistakably associated with road rage and arrogant behavior, at no point have I seen anyone flashing their lights to overtake. I’m sure some of you will disagree but this is coming from someone who drove in France for almost 20 years, I am happily surprised at how civilised and patient everyone and is on the road.

Chevrolet Impala North CarolinaThe Chevrolet Impala is also very popular here.

There is one thing that did shock me at first though. For all their wild driving, one thing French drivers will consider sacrilege is overtaking on the right. This is considered a highly offensive, let alone illegal manoeuvre in Europe: a way to scream to the other driver that he/she really drives like a … Given in the US everyone drives roughly at the same speed, overtaking appears to be done on each side and I did get offended when that happened. Add to this that from the height of my truck, a Mazda Miata-type coupé is almost invisible on my rear mirrors when it sneaks up from the right, especially when I don’t expect anything to come by from that side. Oh well, I got used to it.

2013 Coachmen Encounter. Picture courtesy of imcdb.com2013 Coachmen Encounter RV in movie “We’re the Millers”

Now onto the vehicle landscape. First things first, a very striking observation: all the way since New York I have been spotting a constant flow of RVs. But not your traditional LCV transformed into an RV, German family style. No. The big ass RVs like the one you saw in Hollywood movie ‘We’re the Millers’ (pictured above) and costing well above $100,000 to purchase. Given this flow abruptly stopped as soon as I drove North-West through Georgia I will assume these RVs are rentals that are headed towards Florida and/or the sunbelt for the holidays.

Best seller by stateStates in blue have the Ford F-Series as best-seller…

If Virginia’s best-seller is the Honda Accord (hard to pick from the highway landscape), crossing the border to North Carolina means you enter Ford F-Series territory (blue on the map above), a zone I will remain in almost the whole way to Los Angeles except in Oklahoma (Nissan Altima) and California (Honda Civic). I stepped out of the highway in Colonial Williamsburg (I highly recommend this massive historical village eerily wifi-enabled – makes for a slightly asynchronistic experience) and there the Ford F-Series and, surprisingly, Toyota Tundra were the most frequent.

RAM 1500 WilliamsburgAlbert in Williamsburg VA

The Hero in ‘Town’ (although we are talking about 3 different States) is the Nissan Rogue and by far. I saw dozens of the new generation all the way through this part of the trip and this has to come to consumer preference or a huge deal with rental companies as this model isn’t manufactured in these States but in Smyrna, Tennessee. The new gen Chevrolet Impala is also extremely popular in this part of the United States, and I also spotted two Tesla Model S which would seem to indicate that the success of this electric car isn’t limited to California and big cities. Next stop is Charleston in South Carolina…

France August 2014: Toyota Yaris hits highest ever Nippon ranking at #7 in worst month in 38 years

September 11th, 2014 10 comments

Toyota Yaris France August 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe Toyota Yaris is up to a historical 7th place this month in France!

* NOW UPDATED with actuals for the Top 60 models and Top 15 brands - Thanks Marie-Dominique *

While the rest of Europe is enjoying a slow but steady recovery, the French new car market is stuck in muddy waters. One year ago, August broke the sad record of slowest month of new car sales in the country in 37 years. This year with one less working day in the month, the picture is even worse: down 3% to 83,340 registrations, with the year-to-date total now up by just 1.6% on 2013 at 1,185,851 units. This makes August 2014 the lowest monthly score in 38 years, since the 83,000 units registered in August 1976, and the third weakest month in the past 40 years below the 69,426 units of August 1975. For further perspective, we are looking at lower sales than in May 1968 (90,352) when the country was all but paralised by the biggest student protests in its history.

Renault 5 France 1976The last time we witnessed such a slow month of sales in France, the Renault 5 was #1…

Month Sales
August-65 36,773
August-67 40,947
August-66 46,065
August-70 46,791
August-68 47,075
August-71 60,417
August-69 61,164
August-74 64,188
June-68 67,368
January-65 67,909
August-75 69,426
September-69 69,682
August-72 70,662
August-73 74,839
September-65 75,970
September-68 78,618
February-65 80,516
July-67 81,741
September-66 82,330
August-76 83,000
August-14 83,340

On a positive note, if we extend the reference frame to the past 50 years (see above – August 1965 to now), August 2014 ranks at a less depressing #21 lowest monthly score. You could argue these results are slightly biased by the fact that August is traditionally and by far the slowest month of the year with Summer holidays at their peak. So this even weaker than normal result won’t end up having much of an impact on the annual results, it only shows that French car buyers are delaying their new car purchase to potentially after the Paris Motor Show in October which could bring a welcome boost to the market. Renault reclaims the lead of the brands ranking in spite of sales down 14% to 14,012 and 16.8% share, ahead of Peugeot (-4%) and Citroen (-1%) while Volkswagen rebates itself into a 26% surge to 9% share. In a month only favourable to foreign manufacturers, Toyota (+16%), Ford (+40%), Mini (+24%) and Skoda (+25%) also shine.

VW Golf France August 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe VW Golf also reaches its best-ever ranking in France this month.

Model-wise, August is always the month of records in France as a much smaller market means promotions have a more visible impact and the ranking becomes very volatile, and this year is no exception. Below the Renault Clio IV (5.5%) and Peugeot 208 (5.1%), the Peugeot 308 II is back on the podium for the 2nd time in the past 4 months. The Dacia Sandero is up 7 ranks to #4, its highest ranking since last January and with the Duster at #10 we have two Dacias in the monthly French Top 10 for only the second time in history with last April. But it’s below that we have more spectacular developments… Pushed by aggressive rebates, the VW Golf VII is up to 5th place thanks to 2,391 sales and 2.9% share. This is simply the nameplate’s highest ever ranking in France, last reached… 22 years ago in December 1992 (this information is TBC).

Ford C-Max France August 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frFord is up 41% year-on-year in France in August.

The locally-produced Toyota Yaris for its part is up 10 ranks on July to an unbelievable 7th position at 2,170 units and 2.6%, mainly due to 899 sales to dealerships. This is the third time the Yaris ranks inside the monthly French Top 10 after January and March 2007 and the highest ever ranking reached by a Japanese model in France, beating the previous best of #9 by the Toyota Yaris itself in January 2007 and the Nissan Qashqai in March 2013. To round up a month of foreign highlights, the VW Polo at #9 makes it 3 foreigners in the Top 9, something we haven’t seen in years.

Renault Twingo France August 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frFirst real month of sales for the Renault Twingo III at home: #13

Further down, the new generation Renault Twingo III delivers its first ‘real’ month of sales at #13 with 1,886 units, the Citroen C4 Cactus remains solid at #22 and 1.1% share, the Toyota Auris is up 7 spots on last month to a best-ever #23 (previous best: #26 last January), the Audi A3 at #24, Opel Mokka at #26, Ford Kuga up 12 ranks to a record #42 (previous best: #45 in October 2012) and the BMW X1 up 11 to #47.

Previous post: France August 2014 Car Landscape Snapshot

Previous monthly post: France July 2014: Now with Top 300 models and Top 50 brands

Previous month: France July 2014: Citroen C4 Cactus in Top 20 in worst July since 1984

One year ago: France August 2013: Dacia Sandero & Renault Captur superstars in worst month in 37 years

Full August 2014 Top 50 models and Top 15 brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: France

USA Coast to Coast 2014: Washington DC

September 11th, 2014 7 comments

1. Toyota Corolla Washington Toyota Corolla in Washington DC (these ones are from Maryland – for illustration purposes)

* Click on any picture to enlarge and see the Full Photo Report by clicking on the title! *

After managing to drive through Manhattan and out unscathed, we are now travelling 250 miles South West to the country’s capital city, Washington DC. But first, I’ll answer a few of the questions you asked in my first article. I did parallel park my 6 by 2.5m Ram pick-up in Manhattan on a crowded West Village street only one hour into starting the engine and felt very proud. French being my mother tongue I never can get quite used to calling a truck a she: in French a truck is a he so my Ram will be referred to as Albert from now on… As a lot of you have noticed it is the Tradesman level, a trim that normally doesn’t get lent to the press which is why you haven’t seen it that much on car websites yet.

Dodge Durango Lincoln MKZ WashingtonDodge Durango and Lincoln MKZ in Washington DC

The Ram 1500 crew cab 4×4 I am driving has a US$35,805 base price. Add-in the Tradesman package including carpet flooring and satellite radio, 8-speed automatic transmission, 3.0-Liter V6 EcoDiesel engine and destination charge to arrive at US$40,495. Depending on the rebate you can negotiate with your dealer you can potentially get that back down to the base price or below. A lot of you have rightly asked about fuel economy. A road trip across the US in a pick-up truck immediately conjures up images of an endless flow of dollar bills being sunk into overly thirsty fuel tanks. Not so here.

Ram 1500 WashingtonAlbert proudly posing before the Capitol in Washington DC

Aware of the lengthy trip I was embarking in, Chrysler smartly lent me an EcoDiesel, launched only last February and one of the main reasons behind the nameplate’s sales surge in 2014. Back in February the EcoDiesel trucks set a new Ram record with the initial allocation of 8,000 units filled by dealers in just 3 days. Over that period the EcoDiesel variants represented half of all Ram 1500 pick-up orders and overall Ram expects EcoDiesel models to account for 15% of 1500 Series orders this year. So my Albert is quite the popular new kid on the block.

VW Jetta WashingtonVW Jetta in Washington DC

The reason behind this success? The EcoDiesel delivers 28 mpg highway, currently the best fuel economy for a full-size pick-up truck, compared to 24 mpg for the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra and 23 mpg for the current Ford F-Series. The 4×4 variant I have gives up one mpg to 27. Ford launched a challenge to Ram’s mpg crown with its new generation aluminium-built F-Series which will start deliveries in February 2015, however at an estimated 27 mpg for the all-new 2.7-Liter stop-start V6 it doesn’t quite match the RAM EcoDiesel yet.

Chevrolet Silverado WashingtonChevrolet Silverado in Washington DC

All these claims but what happens in the real world? I won’t reset the mpg average at all during the entire trip, which should provide me with an all-trip average assuming Chrysler reset it before lending the truck to me. After 3 days and about 500 miles the mpg average stands at 25.3 keeping in mind there were 3 hours of virtual standstill in Manhattan – and therefore atrocious mpg – to begin with. So we are in line with a best-in-class score so far, and Albert is turning out to be not so thirsty after all.

Buick Enclave WashingtonBuick Enclave in Washington DC

Back to Washington DC, and this being a very small and touristy District, please bear in mind that my observations may not be limited to cars registered within Washington DC even though I tried to discard cars not registered here. As always this is not an exact science, rather a feel for the changing vehicle landscape as I traverse the country. State by state data published by Business Insider indicates that DC is the only State/territory in the country to crown the Toyota Corolla. And as it was the case in New York City, I am pleased to announce that street observations match sales data which is always a great validation. The new generation Corolla has already taken charge of the Washington traffic: I saw more of them in the few hours I was in the (relatively small) town than I saw in New York in 3 days!

Toyota Prius C WashingtonToyota Prius C in Washington DC

Overall my impression is that passenger cars are smaller than they were in New York City with less Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and more Nissan Sentra, Versa, Hyundai Elantra and VW Jetta. Case in point: I saw my first two Toyota Prius C of the trip here. Hyundai also seems to be enjoying very strong sales here: I spotted a few new generation Sonatas. Nissan is as solid as it was in New York with numerous Altima spotted but less Maxima – in line with the smaller car park.

2002 Saturn Ion Washington2002 Saturn Ion in Washington DC

I would like to be able to tell you that I saw more pick-ups here but this is only marginally the case and we are still frankly in sedan and SUV territory. The Toyota RAV4 did come across more frequently, both as taxis and private cars. A couple of more Washington observations: the most popular and almost only Jeep seems to be the Wrangler, the current generation Buick Enclave is a success as is the Tesla Model S and the Washington region has a love for the defunct Saturn brand: whereas I had not picked one up yet during the trip before, I spotted three 2002 Saturn Ion in the space of a few blocks!

Next we will be driving through Virginia, North and South Carolina to Charleston. Stay tuned!

Full Washington DC Photo Report below.

Read more…

Russia August 2014: Renault Logan up to #4 in market down 26%

September 9th, 2014 No comments

Renault Logan Russia August 2014. Picture courtesy of zr.ruNever before had the Renault Logan ranked that high in Russia.

* See the Top 25 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

As economic sanctions against the country as a result of the Ukraine crisis remain in place, the Russian new car market accentuates its decline further in August to a dismal 26% year-on-year drop at 172,015 registrations. Brand-wise, below Lada down a harsh 32% and Kia down 20%, Hyundai (-6%) and Toyota (-8%) both gain one spot on July to rank #3 and #4 respectively, overtaking Renault (-18%) which however remains #2 year-to-date. In the Top 25, only Mercedes (+3%), UAZ (+1%), Mazda (stable), Lexus (+13%) and Great Wall (+5%) don’t lose ground.

Nissan Almera Russia August 2014. Picture courtesy of zr.ruThe Nissan Almera is back to its best-ever ranking in Russia.

In the models ranking, the Lada Granta behaves better than the market at -21% to 6.9% market share vs. 6% year-to-date, ahead of an ever-impressive Hyundai Solaris actually up 6% on August 2013 to see its market share go from 3.7% one year ago to 5.3%  this month. Below the Kia Rio down 16% in third place, the Renault Logan gains one further spot on July to land in 4th position, simply the nameplate’s best-ever ranking since BSCB started following Russian sales monthly in March 2010. The Logan overtakes the Duster (#5) to become the brand’s best-seller in Russia this month.

UAZ Patriot Russia August 2014. Picture courtesy of zr.ruUAZ Patriot (along with a Great Wall Hover and Chevrolet Niva)

Notice also the Nissan Almera back up 13 spots on July to #8 with 3,822 sales and 2.2%, an all-time high ranking in Russia for the model, also reached last February and April. The Toyota Camry maintains itself at a high level at #11 thanks to sales down just 1% as does the Skoda Rapid at #19 with 2,430 units and 1.4%. Finally, we witness this month a rare appearance of the UAZ Patriot inside Russia’s Top 25 best-sellers at #24 with 1,963 sales and 1.1%. The Patriot finished 2013 at #31.

Previous month: Russia July 2014: Renault Logan up to #5, Opel Mokka in Top 25

One year ago: Russia August 2013: Lada 4×4 and Chevrolet Cruze outstanding

Full August 2014 Top 25 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: Russia

USA Coast to Coast 2014: New York City

September 9th, 2014 12 comments

3. Ford E-Series New York 1Ford E-Series in Times Square, New York City – September 2014

* Click on any picture to enlargeSee the Full Photo Report by clicking on the title! *

You may remember my Trans-Siberian Railway series that took us from St Petersburg through to Mongolia and Beijing last year, and my recent Western China Photo Report that explored the Chinese ‘far West’ to Kashgar and the Karakoram Highway up to the Pakistani border to discover what rural Chinese consumers preferred. On to the next road trip: this time crossing the United States of America from the East to the West coast, departing in New York and arriving in Los Angeles. Last month the US new light vehicle market rebounded back to levels not seen since January 2006, so what better timing than now to explore it in detail, observing specificities in the automotive landscape as we go through various cities, States and regions.

2. Times Square New York 2Times Square, New York City – September 2014

What will I drive during this trip? I wanted a quintessentially American vehicle that also made sense under a sales performance angle – let’s not forget my specialty is sales statistics – and the folks at Chrysler have been kind enough to lend me a RAM 1500 4×4 crewcab ecodiesel for the trip. It will be a great opportunity to describe the ride from my perspective: someone living in Australia where pick-up trucks are also very popular but much smaller, and born and raised in France where roads are tiny and petrol is (almost) pricier than gold… The RAM Pick-up is the biggest gainer in the US Top 12 so far in 2014 with a 22% sales increase over the first 8 months of the year. We’ll try and find out whether this is justified. Regular impressions about my RAM 1500 will pepper these reports all the way to Los Angeles.

1. Toyota Camry Nissan NV200 New YorkToyota Camry and Nissan NV200 in Times Square, New York City – September 2014.

The starting point of this Coast to Coast Road Trip is New York City. 2012 data published by JATO shows Honda at #1 here, followed by Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Hyundai. Model-wise, the Honda Accord leads the way ahead of the Honda CR-V, Honda Civic, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry. A very non-American ranking indeed! And observation in the streets of the crowded megapolis confirms these figures: the Honda Accord is definitely king while the CR-V is so frequent that it becomes ‘transparent’: one at every corner across all generations and virtually part of the furniture. The Honda Pilot is also way more frequent in NYC than its national ranking should lead it to.

4. Nissan Sentra BrooklynNissan Sentra in Brookyn – September 2014

The Toyota Camry is one of the taxis of choice in NYC, if not the #1, so it is logical that it comes up high in the ranking, as it is also popular with private buyers. Note also the popularity of the Toyota Sienna with taxi companies. However the new generation Toyota Corolla is only as popular as the new Mazda3 – meaning, not a lot. And yes, Nissans are everywhere, especially and surprisingly the Maxima, but also the Altima, Sentra and Versa, as well as the new official New York taxi: the awkward-looking NV200.

Ford E-Series New York 2Ford E-Series in New York City – September 2014

In each city/State I visit I will nominate one or a few Heroes in Town, models that I was surprised to see a lot more often than their position in the US sales charts would indicate. The Hero in New York City is the Ford E-Series. This is an observation I remember already making the last time in was in town almost a decade ago. Pick-up trucks are not popular in New York, perhaps because of their wide and long dimensions, instead vans like the E-Series and the Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana rule the roost. Although based on the ones I saw, the E-150 looked as big as a F-150, let alone the E-250 and E-350! It would therefore have more to do with a usage habit, a little bit like vans are more popular than pick-up trucks in Europe, and also the fact that vans don’t need any modifications to lock and secure their load, left in the open and prone to robbery in a pick-up truck. A very interesting particularity of the NYC vehicle landscape indeed.

3. Toyota Highlander New YorkToyota Highlander in New York City – September 2014

Other surprisingly frequent vehicles in New York include the new generation Toyota Highlander, seemingly way more popular than the previous gen and already ramping up numbers in the taxi fleets. I also spotted a lot of Ford Fusion and Buick LaCrosse as well as an impressive amount of new generation Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL and quite a few Jeep Cherokee. Minicars I potentially will only see here in the entire trips: the Smart Fortwo and Fiat 500 in good numbers and my first BMW i3 spotted near Battery Park.

5. Ford F-250 New York 2There are still some pick-ups in New York: Ford F-250 in Brooklyn

11. Ford C-Max New YorkFord C-Max in New York City – September 2014

The Ford C-Max is starting to point its bonnet relatively frequently as a New York taxi, in any case already more of them seem to be in circulation than Toyota Prius+, also quite frequent. Last New York specificity: the Lincoln brand is extremely strong: I spotted all generations of MKS and MKT with its trademark extravagant back lights in surprisingly high numbers.

8. MV-1 Minicab New York 2

9. MV-1 Minicab New YorkMV-1 Minicab in New York City – September 2014

Finally, a New York oddity: the MV-1, a vehicle I had never seen before. This is a wheelchair-accessible minicab produced by the Vehicle Production Group from October 2011 to February 2013 and by AM General, the company best known for having built the Humvee for the military, since March 2014. I did not see a flow of them but enough to pick my attention and wonder what the heck that car was – still a very exciting albeit rarer and rarer feeling!

6. Ford Fusion New YorkFord Fusion in New York City – September 2014

I took delivery of my RAM 1500 in Uptown Manhattan, Inwood to be precise. Coming from countries where such large vehicles are extremely rare and having had not many opportunities to install myself inside a typical American pick-up truck before, I won’t lie to you, it was a big shock when I hopped up onto the driving seat. Huge. Everywhere. Inside and out. Making me nervous when trying it out for a few blocks to get my marks. It only needs someone double parked to make simply driving from one end of a New York City street to another a perilous exercise.

Matt RAM 1500 New YorkHappy RAM driver. That was before the trip down Broadway…

But surprise: only a couple of minutes after powering it on, it actually feels almost like driving a nimble little European car thanks to very responsive commands and efficient power steering. In a way simpler, even: the automatic gearbox has become a volume-like button placed just under your right hand. Fun. Now to remember not to actually use it to amp up the volume on the radio. The RAM 1500 (as any other rare pick-up here) does not feel in its element in New York though, high perched and way above the line of sight of most vehicles. New York is the kingdom of taxi drivers. Time to leave.

7. Lincoln MKS New YorkLincoln MKS

To say a worthwhile goodbye to this fascinating city, I thought I’d drive down the entire length of Manhattan from North to South via Broadway. Big mistake. If the first 60-odd blocks are surprisingly quiet and fast, it gets very messy below 100th street. Repeated and disrupting roadwork, endless one ways making it excruciatingly difficult to get back on track once you get sidestepped, single lanes, the notorious metal panels on the ground that sound like the entire street has crumbled down a sink hole under you, traffic so slow you could almost manage a power nap without anyone noticing and pedestrians getting pedantic if you dare to actually drive when your light is green. It all sounds iconic when you walk around taking tourist snaps, but when driving a 6 by 2.5m truck that hardly fits in one lane while not being able to see the cars below you, it’s definitely not.

Dodge RAM New YorkBlack RAM 1500 Express

Now to extricate oneself from the island via the ridiculously cramped two-lane Holland Tunnel (where are the 6-lane highways when we need them?) and off we go to Washington DC, a mere 3 hours drive from New York – the same duration it took me to get out of New York in the first place. Baptism of fire for my valiant RAM.

Full New York City Photo Report below.

Read more…

Norway August 2014: VW Golf above 9%, BMW i3 in Top 10 again

September 8th, 2014 6 comments

BMW i3 Norway August 2014Norway is the only country in the world to welcome the BMW i3 among its 10 best-sellers.

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 100 models and All-brands! Thanks Jan *

Norwegian new car sales are down 2% year-on-year in August to 11,444 registrations, however the year-to-date total remains in positive territory at +2% over 2013 to 95,519 units. Volkswagen is the most popular manufacturer in the country once again with a strong 18% share vs. 14.6% year-to-date, placing the Golf at #1 and 9.4% share, well ahead of its level at home in Germany and the 2nd consecutive month above 9%. This sales boost for the #1 best-seller in the country is to be attributed to the launch of the e-Golf variant here, instantly successful in the kingdom of electric cars.

VW e-Golf Norway August 2014VW e-Golf at Olso Airport – September 2014.

The Toyota Auris remains at #2 and overtakes the Tesla Model S to now also rank #2 year-to-date, while the Nissan Leaf is up 4 spots on July to jump back onto the Norwegian podium for the first time since last April at #3 and 3.5% share, followed by the VW Up boosted by the e-Up electric variant. Norway confirms its status of electric car paradise with the Mitsubishi Outlander back up 6 spots on July to #8 (thanks to the PHeV variant), the BMW i3 lodging a second ever month inside the monthly Top 10 after last March at #10, the Tesla Model S shyer than usual but still at a world-best #15 and the Renault Zoe at #81.

BMW X4 Norway August 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe BMW X4 is up to #75 in Norway this month.

Notice also the Peugeot 308 up 8 ranks on July to #9, the Mazda3 breaking into the Top 20 at #20, the Citroen C4 Cactus up 53 spots to break into the Norwegian Top 50 for the first time at #32, the Mercedes GLA up a further 4 ranks to #35 vs. #62 year-to-date, the Nissan X-Trail jumping from outside the Top 100 in July directly to #49 vs. #112 year-to-date thanks to the new model, the Peugeot 108 up to #63 and the BMW X4 up 18 spots to #75.

Previous month: Norway July 2014: VW Golf at 10% share, VW Up on podium

One year ago: Norway August 2013: Mazda CX-5 only 8 units below VW Golf

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

Read more…

Categories: Norway

Kazakhstan July 2014: Kia Rio and Daewoo Gentra break records

September 8th, 2014 No comments

Kia Rio Kazakhstan July 2014. Picture courtesy of zr.ruThe Kia Rio ranks 2nd overall in Kazakhstan for the first time this month.

* See the Top 25 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Thanks Irina *

With a little bit of delay I can share with you today July data for Kazakhstan which is no longer the world’s fastest growing automotive market: down 1% year-on-year to 15,916 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 92,517 units, still up 9% on 2013 and a new all-time record for the country. The Lada Priora keeps the lead of the models ranking in spite of sales down 32% on July 2013 1,352 units for a 8.5% share. It is followed this month by the Kia Rio up 2 spots on June to hit a record-breaking 2nd place thanks to sales up 144% to 1,206 units and 7.6%. It overtakes the Lada Granta (+46%) and Hyundai Accent (-2%) while the Daewoo Gentra continues its unstoppable march, breaking volume, share and ranking records in July to #5 with 842 sales and 5.3%. Other great year-on-year gainers include the Lada Largus up 151% to #6, the Skoda Rapid up 227% to an all-time high #8 spot, the Kia Sportage up 135% to #12, Nissan Juke up 77% to #17, Kia Sorento up 88% to #22, Renault Logan up 475% to #24 and Skoda Octavia up 358% to #26.

Previous month: Kazakhstan June 2014: Nissan Almera Classic lands at #12

One year ago: Kazakhstan July 2013: Daewoo Nexia and Lada Largus shine

Full July 2014 Top 25 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: Kazakhstan

Slovenia August 2014: VW Golf, Sportsvan, Fiat 500 shine

September 8th, 2014 No comments

VW Golf Sportsvan Slovenia August 2014. Picture courtesy of yahoo.frThe VW Golf Sportsvan is up to a world-best #6 in Slovenia this month.

* See the Top 80 best-selling models and Top 30 brands by clicking on the title! *

A weak month for the new car market in Slovenia, down 2% year-on-year in August to 3,304 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 36,143 units, up 1% on 2013. Volkswagen keeps the lead of the brands ranking at 19.6% share ahead of Renault (12.1%), Skoda (10.5%), Opel (6.9%) and Ford (5.9%). BMW is strong at #11 vs. #15 in July and #14 year-to-date. The VW Golf is up 3 spots on July to overtake the Renault Clio and become the country’s most popular model in August and for the third time in the past 9 months with 282 sales and 8.5% share. It however still trails the Clio year-to-date at 1,949 units and 5.4% vs. 2,263 and 6.3%. Excellent performance of the Fiat 500 up one further rank on last month to #5 with 3.3% share, but the hero of the month is without a doubt the VW Golf Sportsvan improving again on the world-best ranking it held last month: up 11 spots to a fantastic 6th place thanks to 79 units and 2.4% share. Notice also the Hyundai i20 up 46 ranks to #10, the Ford B-Max up 24 to #19, BMW 5 Series up 10 to #32, BMW X3 up to #37 and the Citroen C4 Cactus up 13 to #57.

Previous month: Slovenia July 2014: VW Golf Sportsvan at world-best ranking

One year ago: Slovenia August 2013: Kia Cee’d threatens Renault Clio, Captur in Top 10

Full August 2o14 Top 80 models and Top 30 brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Slovenia