China 2016 Photo Reports: The cars of Chengdu, Sichuan province

Chengdu street scene 4 Chengdu China 2016Chengdu street scene

This is the 7th instalment in our 2016 Chinese adventures after BeijingXining in the Qinghai province, the Chinese car dealerships of XiningTongren, Xiahe in the Gansu province and the mountain road back from Xiahe to Xining. We are now flying south-east to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province and home to a whopping 14 million inhabitants – that’s much more than Paris or London. The main attraction in Chengdu is the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base where you can observe Sichuan’s most famous residents chomping on bamboo at lunch time.

China map with ChengduChengdu location in ChinaChengdu PandaLunch break from Kung Fu Panda 4 shoot

Chengdu is the fifth-most populous agglomeration in China, but the quiet streets of its old quarter are where it is at its most comfortable. Filled with traditional tea houses complete with bamboo chairs and wooden tables offering jasmine, long jing and biluochun tea, the old Chengdu had a vibe that I hadn’t experienced before in China. Its laid-back locals and succulent cuisine also helped.

VW Jetta Taxi Chengdu China 2016VW Jetta Taxis lining up at Chengdu International AirportChengdu street scene 2  Chengdu China 2016Chengdu street sceneChengdu street scene China 2016Citroen C-Elysée taxi and VW Lamando in Chengdu

Exclusive FY2014 Ranking by province published on BSCB shows that the VW Jetta is by far the best-selling nameplate in Sichuan, and looking at the car landscape in Chengdu, this domination has a lot (but not all) to do with taxi companies. Chendgu taxis are composed of only two nameplates: the old and new generations VW Jetta, with a healthy amount of new generation Citroen C-Elysée thrown in the mix. All Chengdu taxis run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

Chengdu street scene 3 Chengdu China 2016Brilliance H330 in between Peugeot 308and Chana MinivanBrilliance H230 Chengdu China 2016Brilliance H230

A couple of striking characteristics of the Chengdu car landscape are the strength of Brilliance brand with the V3 small crossover already well established and a constant stream of sedans otherwise not-so-successful nationally such as the H230 and H330. The Roewe brand is also stronger than expected with the 360 sedan already popular, and PSA Peugeot-Citroen is as popular in Chengdu today as it was 10-15 years ago (meaning: very). Loads of Peugeot 206 sedans and “civilian” Citroen C-Elysée can be spotted in town. Overall though, there can be full traffic light-loads of cars with not a single Chinese brand within them in Chengdu, in a car park that impresses with its young age given the size of this city and the amount of cars sold each year. In order to succeed here, Chinese carmaker will have to “premiumise” and do it fast – in the vein of what Haval, Geely and Changan are currently doing – in order to succeed with Chengdu customers.

Landwind X7 Chengdu China 2016Landwind X7  Chana Taurus Chengdu China 2016Chana Taurus Toyota Prado Chengdu China 2016Toyota Prado

In fact, below the VW Jetta the Haval H6 was the best-selling nameplate in Sichuan in our exclusive 2014 ranking by province, and although it doesn’t clearly appear in the car landscape I saw, it does make absolute sense that a so-called premium brand (by Chinese standards) is the most popular here. The other best-sellers include the Ford Focus – now replaced in Chengdu hearts by the Escort, the VW Sagitar and Lavida, confirmed by my sightings that also included the new Bora, Toyota Corolla, Honda XR-V, Changan Eado, Geely GC9 (both confirming the Chinese premium trend), Renault Koleos and Buick Verano among the most frequent.

 

 

 

Haval H6 Coupe Chengdu China 2016Haval H6 CoupeChengdu by night

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Europe First Half 2016: Volkswagen down to lowest share in 6 years

VW Golf Europe June 2016. Picture courtesy caradvice.com.au The VW Golf is still #1 in Europe but is down 2% in a market up 9%.

* See the Top 10 best-selling brands and Top 20 models by clicking on the title *

The European new car market, composed of 29 countries excluding Russia and Turkey, hits its highest level since pre-recession 2008 this year with registrations up 9.1% over the First Half of 2016 to 8.089.730 units. Germany (1.73m), UK (1.42m), France (1.1m), Italy (1.05m) and Spain (.63m) remain the largest markets on the continent, Serbia (+27%), Latvia (+27%), Cyprus (+26%), Lithuania (+25%), Hungary (+24%), Ireland (+23%) and Croatia (+21%) are the most dynamic, whereas Switzerland (-3%) and the Netherlands (-4.5%) are the only ones to lose volume.

Renault Kadjar Europe June 2016. Picture courtesy largus.frThanks in part to the Kadjar, Renault is up 15% to #2 in Europe so far in 2016. 

The big story in these first six months of 2016 is how Volkswagen sales are affected by its emissions scandal: up just 1%, the German manufacturer drops almost one percentage point of market share to 11.2%, its lowest H1 market share since 2010. The drop doesn’t really reflect a consumer reaction to the scandal – they appear for the most part unfazed – but more so a slight disengagement of the brand marketing-wise, hampered by legal challenges popping out of almost every country in the world. On the other hand, helped by a renewed lineup and the success of its Captur and Kadjar SUVs, Renault gains 15% to overtake Ford for the European 2nd spot with just under 595.000 sales and 7.4% share. Opel and Peugeot round out the Top 5, remaining roughly at the same level market share-wise.

Fiat Panda Europe June 2016. Picture courtesy of themotorreport.com.auThe Panda (+21%) helps Fiat up 17% in Europe this year. 

In the luxury aisle, Audi remains in the lead with deliveries up 14% to 442.651 but its domination is being challenged by its perennial competitors Mercedes, up 15% to 426.846, and BMW up 11% to 425.268. If Audi led in January, February, April and May, it was #2 in March below BMW and #3 in June below both Mercedes and BMW. Fiat is the most improved manufacturer in the Top 10 at +17% to 411.000 sales thanks to the success at home of the Panda and Europe-wide of the 500 and 500X. Skoda (+9%) remains at #10.

Opel Astra Europe June 2016The Opel Astra is back inside the European Top 10. 

The VW Golf predictably keeps the lead of the models ranking even though it drops 2% year-on-year to just under 270.000 sales. That’s still almost 100.000 more than the next best thing: the Renault Clio, up 4% to 173.500. Both the Clio and the VW Polo (+5%) overtake the Ford Fiesta, skidding 9% to 159.500 and now just above the Opel Corsa (-2%). The Peugeot 208 (+14%) takes advantage of its facelift while the Opel Astra (+26%) benefits from a new generation to re-enter the Top 10 at #7. The Renault Captur and Peugeot 308, both up 10%, get one step closer to a Top 10 ranking at #11 and #12 respectively. The Fiat Panda is up 21% to #14, the Peugeot 2008 up 13% to #18, the Skoda Fabia up 20% to #19 and the Dacia Sandero up 15% to #20.

Previous post: Europe June 2016: VW down 1%, Renault up 21% in market up 6.5%

One year ago: Europe First Half 2015: Recovery now firmly in place – albeit artificial?

Full H1 2016 Top 10 brands and Top 20 models vs. Full H1 2015 figures below.

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Europe June 2016: VW down 1%, Renault up 21% in market up 6.5%

Renault Megane Europe June 2016The Renault Mégane hits its highest European ranking in two years. 

* See the Top 10 best-selling brands and Top 20 models by clicking on the title *

New car sales in Europe – 29 countries excluding Russia and Turkey – celebrate 34 consecutive months of year-on-year gains in June with deliveries up 6.5% to 1.506.391 units, with the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate coming in at 15.5 million units vs. 14.2 million over the Full Year 2015. Eastern European countries are pulling the overall market up with Latvia (+56%), Croatia (+32%), Hungary (+32%), Poland (+27%), Serbia (+27%), Czech Republic (+21%), Lithuania (+20%) and Slovenia (+19%) forming 8 of the 9 best performing markets this month. Reversely, the UK (-1%), Greece (-1.5%), Estonia (-2%), Norway (-3%), Switzerland (-6%) and Romania (-37%) are the only market posting a decline in June.

Audi A4 Europe June 2016Audi A4 sales are up 30% year-on-year in June.

Market leader Volkswagen continues to underperform with sales down 1% to 165.079 whereas Renault shows particularly strong gains at +21% to 134.494. Ford (-2%), Opel (+0.1%) and Peugeot (+0.6%) follow. BMW manages to win the luxury race with stable sales at 82.214 vs. 80.936 for Mercedes (+16%) and 75.354 for Audi (+14.5%). Rounding up the Top 10, Fiat (+13%) and Skoda (+8%) both outpace the market.

Opel Astra Europe June 2016The Opel Astra is up 25% to #6 

Model-wise, the VW Golf posts a 75th consecutive month atop the European sales charts (the last time it did not rank #1 in Europe was over 6 years ago in March 2010) but drops 5% to 46.946 sales. The Renault Clio is up 18% to #2, increasing the gap with the VW Polo (-3%), Ford Fiesta (-14%) and Opel Corsa (+4%). Boosted by their new generation, the Opel Astra is up 25% to #6, the Audi A4 up 30% to #19 and the Renault Megane is up 34% to #13, its best ranking since June 2014. Finally the Renault Captur follows the market (+6%) to rank 7th, its best-ever European position, also hit in June 2014 and June 2015.

Previous post: Europe May 2016: Discover the Top 350 models and All-brands

Previous month: Europe May 2016: Market soars 15% boosted by Renault and Fiat

One year ago: Europe June 2015: Renault Captur equals all-time record #7 spot

Full June 2016 Top 10 brands and Top 20 models below.

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China 2016 Photo Reports: The mountain road from Xiahe to Xining

Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic5Snow covered the surrounding mountains overnight.

After two days in Xiahe in the Gansu province, it’s time to take on the bus trip back to Xining for further Chinese adventures. One full day of snow completely transformed the landscape to the point that the 7-hour return trip is worth a Photo Report of its own.

China map with XiaheWe are retracing back our steps.Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic1Just after leaving Xiahe

On the day of departure and in order to catch the morning bus to Xining I had to wake up way earlier (5:30am) than my hotel’s opening hours, meaning a few minutes of panic when I discovered I was locked inside. The night guard had to be woken up, although I do believe he did not really wake up to unlock the gate – he must be able to do that in his sleep and be all the better for it. The reward however – sunrise on snowy mountains – was priceless.

Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic2

Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic3Baojun 730 Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic4Wuling Hongguang S1Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic6The line of trucks stuck on the climb to the highest mountain pass on the road

The vehicles encountered on the road were very rare and quite specific: almost exclusively shared taxis but very few of the bruised and battered Wuling Sunshine I spotted in Tongren. Rather, the newer MPVs such as the Wuling Hongguang S1 and Baojun 730 are the default choice, with their heightened, SUV-like clearance. Heavy trucks were for the most part stuck on the climb to the highest mountain pass on the road, culminating at 3,644m (11,955 ft). Our bus had to stop to put on snow chains or we wouldn’t have gone any further.

Stay tuned for the next stop in our Chinese adventures in Chengdu, Sichuan.

Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic8Red rocks before the junction to Tongren. 

China 2016 Photo Reports: The cars (and 3-wheelers) of Xiahe, Gansu

1. Great Wall Wingle 6 Xiahe China 2016Great Wall Wingle 6 in Xiahe

This is the 5th stop in our 2016 Chinese adventures after BeijingXining, the Chinese car dealerships of Xining and Tongren. There is only 107 km / 66 miles east to Xiahe across the border in the Gansu province, but it takes over 3 hours because we drive through winding mountain roads across spectacular red rock scenery. Xiahe is located at the northeastern extremity of the Tibetan plateau in a magnificent valley at 2920m / 9580 ft above see level, lying along the Daxia and Zhao rivers. It just started snowing when I arrived.

China map with XiaheXiahe location in ChinaXiahe Monastery Pic3Labrang Monastery in Xiahe4. Haval H6 Sport Xiahe China 2016Haval H6 SportWuling Hongguang S1  Xiahe China 20162 x Wuling Hongguang S1

Home of 70.000 inhabitants, Xiahe is distinctly larger than Tongren, our previous pit stop. As such, following a striking logic valid in the vast majority of China, the population is wealthier and the car parc is both newer and more sophisticated. A battery of brand-new Wuling Hongguang S1 have replaced the battered 7 year-old Wuling Sunshine of Tongren as the shared taxi of choice. More generally, the Wuling Hongguang is by far the most frequent vehicle in Xiahe, almost exclusively as a shared taxi. It is at the town level of Xiahe that the Hongguang has built its national domination of the Chinese sales charts over the past few years. Smaller towns still run on older minivans and will upgrade to the Hongguang soon, while larger towns have upgraded to the Baojun 730 already. Indeed, the Chinese car purchase patterns are demographic as they are chronologic. The bigger the city, the closer it follows the latest sales trends at play nation-wide. The only exception are the largest metropolis of the nation that had their sales charts messed up with licence-plate restrictions as we observed in Beijing this year.

Xiahe MonasteryLabrang Monastery in XiaheHonda Greiz Xiahe China 2016Honda Greiz

The “private” taxi fleet is composed of FAW Xiali N5 like in Tongren but also FAW Weizhi V5 and Changan Alsvin V3 (see pictures further down in the report). Private cars such as the Chevrolet Sail, Hyundai Verna and Toyota Highlander are the most popular here.

A typical three-wheeler in Labrang Monastery, Xiahe
Three Wheeler Xiahe China 2016 Pic2Three Wheeler Xiahe China 2016 Pic3Three Wheeler Xiahe China 2016Three Wheeler Xiahe China 2016 Pic5A selection of three-wheelers operating in Xiahe 

One of the most fascinating characteristics of the Xiahe vehicle parc is the omnipresence of very loud three-wheelers criss-crossing the city among joyous monks. Drivers of these picturesque three-wheelers revel in pride manoeuvring these workhorses through town, waving and smiling as I snap a picture. My best selection as well as a video are above.

Changan Alsvin V3 Xiahe China 2016Changan Alsvin V3
Soueast V6 Xiahe China 2016Soueast V6
Geely Jingang Xiahe China 2016
Geely Jingang
Wuling Mini Truck Xiahe China 2016Wuling Mini Truck double cab
Xiahe Monastery Pic2Labrang Monastery in XiaheFAW Xiali N3 Xiahe China 2016FAW Xiali N3Haval H2 Xiahe China 2016Haval H2 
Wuling Hongguang V Xiahe China 2016Wuling Hongguang V 

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China 2016 Photo Reports: The cars of Tongren, Qinghai province

VW Jetta Tongren China 2016Sulky boy and VW Jetta in Tongren, Qinghai province

This is the 4th stop in our 2016 Chinese adventures after Beijing, Xining and the Chinese car dealerships of Xining. We travel 165km south to the small town of Tongren (pronounced “Toungjen”), still in the Qinghai province. The road from Xining is breath-taking, following a tributary of the Yellow River through precipitous gorges. A spectacular highway with grand bridges was nearing the end of its construction at the time I visited, but we were confined to windy mountainous roads which were lots of fun too.

China map with TongrenTongren location in ChinaTongren MonasteryTongren Longwu Si MonasteryGreat Wall Wingle 5 Tongren China 2016 Pic2Great Wall Wingle 5 on the road from Xining to Tongren

Tongren is a County level division, the third level of the administrative hierarchy below Provinces and Prefectures. Exploring the countryside of the Qinghai Province, we can now find out which cars are the most popular outside of the main population centre.

Wuling Sunshine Tongren China 2016Wuling Sunshine TaxiChana Taurus Tongren China 2016Chana Taurus TaxiFAW Xiali N5 Taxi Tongren China 2016FAW Xiali N5VW Jetta Taxi Tongren China 2016VW Jetta Taxi and Wuling Mini Truck

As I step out of the bus, the first striking element is the swarming Wuling minivans used as shared taxis, a reminder that the Wuling Sunshine and Rongguang were once the best-selling vehicle in the country, having since been replaced by the Hongguang, a lot more discreet in Tongren. Other taxis are split between the FAW Xiali N5 and the new VW Jetta.

Chana Mini Truck  Tongren China 2016 Pic2Chana Mini Truck in Tongren Longwu Si MonasteryLandwind X7 Tongren China 2016Landwind X7Tongren Street sceneTongren Street scene – notice the mix of Tibetan and Chinese alphabets.
MG GS Tongren China 2016MG GS

Chana and Wuling Mini Trucks as well as Great Wall Wingle 5 pickups are the workhorses of choice for Tongren workers, artisans and vendors. Moreover, Changan and FAW dealerships positioned at the town’s entrance make sure the Tongren car park has a distinct Chinese flavour, with an added pinch of Dongfeng sedans, MG GS SUVs and four Landwind X7 (the Range Rover Evoque clone) spotted in 1hour in Tongren, more than in 2 days in Xining.

Tongren Monastery Pic2 Tongren Longwu Si MonasteryHonda CR-V Tongren China 2016Honda CR-V

But the most interesting observation as far as the Tongren car park is concerned is the numerical domination of large-ish Japanese and Korean SUVs. The Honda CR-V should be close to the best-selling vehicle in town outright, with other very strong performers being the previous generations Nissan Qashqai, the Kia Sportage R (from two generations ago) and VW Tiguan. The all-new Hyundai Tucson has had a fantastic start in town.

Changfeng Black King Tongren China 2016Changfeng Leopaard Black EditionGreat Wall Wingle 5 Tongren China 2016 Pic3Great Wall Wingle 5
JAC Pickup Tongren China 2016 JAC PickupJeep Compass Tongren China 2016Jeep Compass

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Discover Exclusive H1 2016 Reports for the Top 15 worldwide markets

Ford F-150 Raptor USA June 2016The Ford F-Series tops the US and Canadian markets so far in 2016. 

You will find below the links to exclusive H1 2016 Reports for the Top 15 markets in the world:

World: World H1 2016: Mercedes closer to topple BMW for the first time since 2005

1. China (12.800.000): China H1 2016: Tax cut, SUV wave spur 8% gain to record 12.8m

2. USA (8.644.920): USA H1 2016: Is this the first soft landing in a decade?

-. Europe (7.510.836): Europe H1 2016: Volkswagen down to lowest share in 6 years

3. Japan (2.547.345): Japan H1 2016: Mitsubishi victim of fuel economy scandal

4. Germany (1.733.839): Germany H1 2016: Volkswagen down 1% in market up 7%

5. UK (1.420.636): UK H1 2016: Record volume but Brexit brings cloudy horizon

6. India (1.413.386): India H1 2016: Renault Kwid instant blockbuster, hurts Maruti Alto

7. France (1.102.442): France H1 2016: Dacia Sandero triumphs with private buyers

8. Italy (1.040.842): Italy H1 2016: Fiat tightens grip on home market up 19%

9. Canada (990.727): Canada H1 2016: Pickups and SUVs boost market to record high

10. Brazil (951.206): Brazil H1 2016: Fall accelerates to -25%, Chevrolet takes charge

11. South Korea (929.255): South Korea H1 2016: Samsung SM6 instant blockbuster

12. Mexico (721.898) : Mexico H1 2016: Kia stuns in fast and furious market

13. Russia (672.140): Russia H1 2016: Hyundai Solaris takes charge in market down 14%

14. Spain (626.756): Spain H1 2016: Opel surprise leader in market back to 2008 level

15. Australia (598.140): Australia H1 2016: Hyundai i30 takes charge in record market

Bonus:

Iran (555.745): Iran H1 2016: Exclusive production and sales data available

UK First Half 2016: Record volume but Brexit brings cloudy horizon

Ford Mustang UK June 2016. Picture courtesy autocar.co.ukFord Mustang – Ford remains the #1 brand in the UK but drops 3%.

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 120 models and Top 40 brands *

The First Half 2016 sales results for the UK are brilliant: up 3% to 1.420.636, the highest-ever 6 month-result in the history of automobile in the country. However, as we pointed out in our study UK: Brexit means no sales record in 2016 and production uncertainty, the chances of a second consecutive record year in the UK are near-to-none. Barely a week after the country voted to exit the European Union, the UK market posted its 2nd year-on-year decline in 4 years in June – the first was last November. The 2nd half of the year will be a difficult and uncertain one for UK sales as the market finds a new equilibrium outside the EU, both in terms of production and private consumer behaviours.

Mercedes C Class UK June 2016. Picture courtesy autocar.co.ukMercedes sales are up 18% year-on-year in the UK so far in 2016. 

Meanwhile we are witnessing a fragmentation of the market brand-wise, with the Top 3 best-sellers each losing volume and almost one percentage point of share market year-on-year: Ford is down 3% to 171.192 and 12.1%, Vauxhall down 7% to 132.947 and 9.4% and Volkswagen is the hardest hit at -9% to 109.566 and 7.7%. The podium accounts for 29.2% of the UK market over H1 2016 vs. 31.9% a year ago. Reversely, the three luxury brands coming next in line all display arrogant health: BMW is up 14% to overtake Audi (+4%) in 4th place with 6.4% share while Mercedes is up an even more impressive 18% to 6.2%. Below, Nissan (-6%), Peugeot (-4%), Toyota (+1%) and Hyundai (+3%) all display declining or – at best – identical market shares compared to a year ago. Further down, Honda (+17%), Land Rover (+18%), Renault (+21%), Jeep (+42%), Smart (+63%), Jaguar (+68%), Ssangyong (+74%) and Infiniti (+157%) are among manufacturers frankly outpacing the market.

Vauxhall Mokka UK June 2015. Picture courtesy autocar.co.ukThe Vauxhall Mokka breaks into the YTD Top 10. 

Model-wise, the Ford Fiesta is headed straight towards an 8th consecutive year in pole position despite sales down a harsh 11% to 63.833. Yet that’s a better hold than the Vauxhall Corsa (-15%) and Ford Focus (-14%) rounding up the podium. In fact, the Top 7 best-sellers – in an order that is unchanged compared to H1 2015 – all lose volume year-on-year in a clear illustration of market fragmentation. The VW Golf and Nissan Qashqai, both at -2%, are the least affected at #4 and #5 respectively. The Mini (+4%) is the first model to improve at #8 with 24.293 units sold, while the Vauxhall Mokka breaks into the Top 10 to reach a best-ever #9 (+5%) and the Mercedes C-Class drops 11% but retains its spot among the country’s 10 favourite vehicles.

Hyundai Tucson UK June 2016Splendid landing by the Hyundai Tucson in the UK. 

Just outside the familiar Top 10, the Mercedes A-Class surges 44% to #11, the Kia Sportage is up 78% to #13 and the Ford Kuga up 18% to #17. The Range Rover Evoque gains 6 spots and 18% to #22, the Hyundai Tucson is the most popular new launch, landing at #26 above the Renault Kadjar at #41. The Vauxhall Viva misses out on a Top 50 ranking for a few hundred units, with the Fiat 500X at #59, the Jaguar XE at #60 and the Citroen C4 Cactus at #69.

Previous post: UK June 2016: Brexit triggers 2nd year-on-year drop in 4 years

Full Year 2015 post: UK Full Year 2015: Market up 6% to record 2.633.503 units

One year ago (1): UK 1st Half 2015: Registrations up 7% to highest-ever half year score

One year ago (2): UK 1st half 2015: Now with Top 360 All-models ranking (BSCB exclusive)

Full H1 2016 Top 10 models and Top 40 brands vs. Full H1 2015 figures below.

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UK June 2016: Brexit triggers 2nd year-on-year drop in four years

Mini UK June 2016. Picture courtesy autocar.co.ukThe Mini Harch is up 13% to 5th place in May in the UK. 

* Now updated with the Top 155 models and Top 40 brands *

New car sales in the UK are down 0.8% in June to 255.766 registrations. Although this is still the 2nd best June score ever and it leads to a record first half at 1.420.636 units, it is also only the 2nd year-on-year monthly drop in four years and the question on everyone’s lips is: did Brexit have to do anything with it? Given the Brexit vote happened on June 23, it means that private sales cannot have been impacted, as these typically reflects orders from months before. Yet the end of June is typically a time where manufacturers load up on “artificial” sales such as short-term rentals, demo sales and self-registrations in order to meet half-year targets. So a 0.8% drop in a record environment can definitely mean carmakers have become bearish when it was time to push. Given the market remains pulled up by fleets (+4.5% in June) while private sales are lagging behind (-4.5%), this is very good news for the remainder of the year in the UK, as we already detailed in the post UK: Brexit means no sales record in 2016 and production uncertainty.

June-new-car-registrations-2000-to-present-chartSource: SMMT

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “It is far too soon to determine whether the referendum result has had an impact on the new car market. The first six months saw strong demand at record levels but the market undoubtedly cooled over the second quarter. It’s important government takes every measure to restore business and economic confidence to avoid the market contracting in the coming months.” Brand-wise, Ford (-9%), Vauxhall (-15%) and Volkswagen (-19%) still dominate but all lose significant market share, whereas just below BMW (+9%), Mercedes (+19%) and Audi (+3%) all gain significant ground. Let’s also notice Renault (+38%), Mini (+22%), Honda (+17%), Jaguar (+33%), Jeep (+60%), Smart (+25%) and Infiniti (+447%) all posting very solid year-on-year improvements.

Renault Kadjar UK June 2016. Picture autocar.co.ukRenault posts the largest year-on-year gain of any manufacturer in the Top 25. 

The Top 10 best-selling models show a paltry figure: 8 of them are down vs. June 2015 including the Top 4 most popular nameplates in the country: the Ford Fiesta (-9%), Vauxhall Corsa (-8%), Ford Focus (-25%) and VW Golf (-11%). Only the Mini (+13%) shooting up three spots on May to #5, its best monthly ranking so far in 2016, and the Mercedes C-Class up 4% to remain in the Top 10 at #10 show positive results. Disappointing scores from the locally-produced Nissan Qashqai (-18%) and the Vauxhall Astra, down 12% despite a new generation. The Vauhxall Mokka is back inside the Top 10 despite sales down 13% to 4.356.

Previous post (1): UK May 2016: Discover the Top 135 models (BSCB Exclusive)

Previous post (2): UK: Brexit means no sales record in 2016 and production uncertainty

Previous month: UK May 2016: Brexit uncertainty cools market growth to +2.5%

One year ago: UK June 2015: Mini and Vauxhall Mokka shine in market up 13%

Full June 2016 Top 40 brands and Top 155 models below.

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Russia First Half 2016: Hyundai Solaris takes charge in market down 14%

Hyundai Solaris Russia June 2016. Picture courtesy trendymen.ruCan the Hyundai Solaris maintain its lead till the end of the year? I doubt it.

* Now updated with the Top 60 All-brands and Top 385 All-models *

New car sales in Russia are trapped in a seemingly never-ending downward spiral, losing another 14% year-on-year over the First Half of 2016. This means the market has lost almost half its volume in two years, going from 1.229.931 over H1 2014 to 672.140 this year… The near future isn’t looking better either, and if local organisation AEB predicts a 10% drop over 2016 it is tainted with an optimism hoped to hold as a self-fullfilling prophecy. Local behemoth Lada has somehow stopped its race to the bottom thanks to the launch of new all-new nameplates (see further down), managing a decline smaller than the market at -12% to 124.353 units and 18.5% share. Kia (-8%) overtakes sister brand Hyundai (-19%) to take the 2nd spot overall with 10.4% share, meaning the Hyundai-Kia combination, at 20% share, is above Lada like last year.

Ford Explorer Russia June 2016. Picture courtesy zr.ruFord posts a spectacular 52% sales gain so far in 2016.

Renault manages to improve its share marginally thanks to deliveries down ‘just’ 9% as does Toyota (-6%), Volkswagen (-8%) and Skoda (-4%) but Nissan (-28%) struggles. A handful of marques are able to go against the grain and post year-on-year gains: Chery (+3%) thanks to a facelifted Tiggo, Suzuki (+8%) thanks to the new Vitara, GAZ (+6%) and UAZ (+11%) as well as Lexus (+17%) thanks to the NX and RX but none as spectacularly as Ford, up a fantastic 52% to #11 overall and Lifan revived up 63% to #21 and back to the #1 Chinese spot in Russia, Among smaller brands, Brilliance (+41%) and Jaguar (+73%) also post significant improvements. Two additional Chinese carmakers enter this depressed Russian market over the period: FAW returns after a 2 year-hiatus  with 500 sales and Zotye makes a timid appearance with 74 units sold.

Lexus NX Russia June 2016Thanks to the NX and the new RX, Lexus is up 17% in Russia this year. 

Hyundai Solaris / Lada Granta Half-year sales comparison 2014-2016:

Model H1 2016 H2 2015 H1 2015 H2 2014 H1 2014
Hyundai Solaris 45,930 62,166 53,702 59,070 55,574
Lada Granta 43,967 56,609 63,573 81,335 71,475

For the second semester in a row, the Hyundai Solaris is the best-selling vehicle in Russia thanks to a decline limited to 14% to 45.930 vs. -31% to 43.967 for the Lada Granta and an even better hold for the Kia Rio in third place at -8% to 39.454. Hyundai has sold 108.096 copies of the Solaris in Russia over the past 12 months, way above the 100.576 managed by the Lada Granta, but the Solaris hasn’t been #1 over a calendar year yet. A last minute surge by the Granta in December prevented it from becoming the first foreign-branded vehicle to top Russian charts since World World 2. Can it manage that feat in 2016? The statistical logic would say yes, however I believe it is very unlikely that the powers that be will let a Korean nameplate dominate the Russian ranking in 2016.

Lada Vesta Russia June 2016. Picture courtesy zr.ruThe Lada Vesta lands directly at #5 in Russia over H1 2016

A main component explaining the Granta’s weakness is the roaring arrival of the Vesta which, although not competing with the Granta in price but rather the Solaris and Rio, has made more damage internally at Lada than on its direct competitors. The Vesta lands at #5 so far in 2016 with a solid 22.894 sales, peaking at #4 and 5.128 sales in June. New Lada nameplates traditionally take a while hitting cruising levels, so the Vesta is bound to go higher, but a long-term pole position seems far-fetched. The other Lada new launch, the XRAY, has a much more limited success so far: it ranks #23 over H1 2016 with 8.042 sales, peaking at #13 in April but damaging the Lada 4×4 (-34%).

Lada XRAY Russia June 2016. Picture courtesy zr.ru…while the Lada XRAY remains outside the Top 20 for now. 

In other models news, the SUV segment is the only one featuring strong gains so far: 7 of the 9 models in positive in the Top 25 are either SUVs or have an SUV variant within their range: the Renault Duster jumps three spots and 15% to land at an outstanding 4th place, the Toyota RAV4 is up 4 ranks and 13% to #7, the Chevrolet Niva enjoys a second wind at +6% to #9, the Renault Sandero is up 0.2% thanks to the Stepway, the UAZ Patriot is up 13% to a best-ever #17 and the Nissan Qashqai benefits from the new model with sales up 63% to #18. The VW Polo (+4%) is the only exception.

Previous post: Russia June 2016: Hyundai Solaris back on top, Lada Vesta resumes growth

One year ago (1):  Russia First Half 2015: Hyundai and Kia winners in damaged market

One year ago (2): Russia First Half 2016: Now with Top 360 All-models (BSCB Exclusive)

Full H1 2016 Top 60 All-brands and Top 385 All-models vs. Full H1 2015 figures below.

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