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Ghana: Mitsubishi Pajero very popular

* Click on title for Ghanaian street videos! *

Ghana is one of the most dynamic car market in Africa, with 12,000 new car sales in 2011, double that of neighbour Cote d’Ivoire. It is also relatively mature, with a full variety of models available and a very fragmented structure.

Ghanaian street scene. Picture by sigma beta, all rights reserved.

Among the most popular new cars are the Mitsubishi Pajero, Toyota Hilux, Nissan Hardbody, Mitsubishi L200, Tata Indigo, Toyota Corolla and Fortuner. Surprisingly the Pontiac Vibe also seem to be successful, as well as the Ford Ranger, Tata Indica, Honda CRV, Toyota Yaris Sedan and Mahindra Pick-up.

Accra street scene. On the left: Pontiac Vibe.

The Dacia Logan also appears in the streets of Accra. The Iranian Saipa 111 (aka Kia Pride) is ubiquitous as a taxi, and the same goes for 1991 Opel Astras and Mercedes TN vans which all seem to travel to Ghana to finish their busy lives.

You can check out some Ghanaian street videos below.

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Nigeria 6 months 2012: Toyota grabs 35% of recovering market

The new gen Toyota Camry is off to a good start in Nigeria

* More articles on Nigeria car sales by clicking on the title! Many thanks to myk *

Hit full frontal by a banking crisis in 2009 that necessitated a government bailout of the country’s biggest lenders, the Nigerian economy and with it its new car market is now in full recovery. Nigerian port figures show new vehicle imports increased 15% year-on-year to 24,158 units in the first six months of 2012, as bank credit started to trickle in. At the same time, bank credit to the private sector grew 48% on 2011, boosting demand for big-ticket purchases including vehicles.

Toyota Corolla

This increase comes on the back of a 45% improvement in car import figures for the Full Year 2011, with the recovery driven by an increase in passenger cars, now accounting for 54% of new car imports with the remainder being commercial vehicles. Now remember these figures are imports through ‘the legitimate ports of entry’ into the country and don’t take into account grey imports which are very hard to quantify especially in Africa. On top of these there are cars produced locally but figures are pretty hard to get: an estimation of 26,600 for the Full Year 2011, up 26% on 2010, is all I got.

Toyota Hilux

So which brands dominate in this context? Only one manufacturer has communicated an estimation of sales: Toyota with 19,000 imports out of 55,000 units in 2011 (35% share) and 10,000 over the first 6 months of 2012 (41% share). No models information is communicated, but based on insights from local readers of this blog it looks like the Toyota Corolla is still the favourite along with the Toyota Hilux, with the new generation Toyota Camry off to a encouraging start. The Avanza and Fortuner are slower sellers.

Other successful models in Nigeria include the Toyota Hiace, Kia Rio, Cerato, Hyundai Accent, Elantra, Honda Civic, Accord, Mitsubishi Pajero, VW Passat, Toyota Prado, Yaris Sedan, RAV4, Sienna and 4Runner.

All the links to the original articles are below.
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France July 2012: Hybrids finally taking off?

Nearly one third of Citroen DS5 sold in France are hybrids.

* See the Top 4 best-selling hybrids by clicking on the title! *

Up until now, the hybrid technology had not really made its mark in the French market. With the first deliveries of the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, things look like they could be changing slightly. With 2,410 units sold in July, hybrid sales are up 180% year-on-year and reach 1.7% penetration. The best-seller is the Yaris with 670 units sold – already 30% of total Yaris sales in July, ahead of the Peugeot 3008. Notice the Citroen DS5 is 4th position with a 29% hybrid penetration…

Previous post: France 1-20 August 2012: Peugeot 208 #1, Dacia Lodgy in Top 10!

Previous month: France July 2012: Peugeot 208 already in pole position!

Full July 2012 Top 4 Hybrid Ranking Table below.

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France 1-20 August 2012: Peugeot 208 #1, Dacia Lodgy in Top10!

Dacia Lodgy

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

Over the first 3 weeks of August, the French new car market is down 6% year-on-year to 50,400 registrations. Brand-wise, Peugeot leads with 8,908 sales and 17.7% ahead of Citroen at 6,996 units and 13.9% and Renault at 6,556 and 13% but no doubt Renault will come back up over the last few days of the month as it usually does.

This is it, the Peugeot 208 is the new king of the French market, and it’s not kidding. After grabbing the pole position for the first time in July, the little lion takes off in August, clocking in no less than 3,693 sales in 3 weeks for a stunning 7.3% market share. If it holds this level until the end of the month, it will be the highest market share of any model in France since the promotion-boosted 9.4% reached by the Renault Clio in September 2011 and the highest share for a Peugeot since the Peugeot 207 hit 7.3% in September 2008… As a reminder the highest ever monthly market share posted by the Peugeot 207 is 7.7% in February 2008.

Peugeot 208

The other big event of the period in France is delivered by the Dacia Lodgy. As I predicted in May, the Lodgy breaks into the French Top 10 for the first time with 1,071 sales and 2.1%, in fact only 11 units away from the 7th place! If the Lodgy keeps its Top 10 spot until the end of the month, it will mean each Dacia released since Renault relaunched the brand in 2004 has managed to rank within the French monthly Top 10: the Logan peaked at #7 in December 2007, the Sandero at #2 in March 2010 and the Duster at #5 in November 2011.

The success of the Lodgy is probably even greater in the French countryside as I pointed out in my last French Photo report

Previous month: France July 2012: Peugeot 208 already in pole position!

One year ago: France 16-22 August 2012: Dacia Duster up to #5

Full 1-20 August 2012 Top 10 Ranking Table below.

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Italy August 2012: New Fiat Panda still a rare sight – Photo report

Fiat Panda & 500 in Vintimiglia, Italy August 2012

* See the entire photo report by clicking on the title! *

The photo report saga continues: after Scotland and the French countryside, I thought I’d drive across the border to Italy in Vintimiglia to give you a quick snapshot of the ‘auto paesaggio’ (car landscape) there. Here we are hitting at the core of what made me create Best Selling Cars Blog: I have always been fascinated by the fact that you just need to cross a border to encounter totally different cars in the street, let alone a different language and culture. It’s my curiosity for these stark differences that triggered the BSCB adventure.

The Fiat Punto still dominates Italian streets, here in Vintimiglia, Italy August 2012

Armed with the latest Italian sales figures and knowing the new gen Fiat Panda has now led the market for 7 months in a row – a record for the Panda nameplate at home – I was bracing myself for a torrent of new little Pandas… Not so. I only spotted 3 the whole afternoon I spent in Vintimiglia. But then I remembered I should probably have held my horses a little. After all, the Panda has only been on sale in Italy for less than a year and although its share is around 8%, it is off a very weak new car market and a part of it comes from the previous gen still in the catalogue.

When I grow up I want to be a policeman and drive an Alfa Romeo…

…or a Land Rover

Reversely, the Fiat Punto had been dominating for 18 years spanning 4 generations, with market shares reaching almost 20% in 1995 and staying above 10% up until 2001. Plus the previous generation Fiat Panda had been #2 straight from its launch in October 2003, so nearly 10 consecutive years. In this context, you will understand why I was still faced with a sea of Fiat Punto, Grande Punto and 2nd gen Panda yesterday. It will take years for the new gen Panda to own the Italian streets, but it will get there if it continues at the rate it started.

Original promotion photograph for the 1957 Fiat 500, still present in Italian streets

And once it’s there, it will stay for a while as Italians have a tendency to hold onto their beloved cars. Case in point, I saw more first gen Fiat 500 yesterday than new gen Panda… Originally launched in 1957, the Fiat 500 was #1 in Italy from 1964 to 1971. Granted, it is probably an exception as there weren’t many Fiat Uno in the streets even though it reached a huge 24% market share in 1986

If it’s small it will sell in Italy… Here a Ford Ka in Vintimiglia, August 2012

One other observation was that Italians really do love their small cars. Yes I should know this just by looking at monthly car sales data but it only hits home when you see it for yourself. As long as it is small, chances are it will sell well in Italy, even models that are otherwise somewhat obscure in the rest of Europe. Along with the expected Fiats, Ford Fiesta, Citroen C3, Opel Corsa and VW Polo, I saw many Suzuki Splash, Mitsubishi Colt, Ford Ka and Kolin sisters (Citroen C1/Peugeot 107/Toyota Aygo).

Lancia Delta in Vintimiglia, Italy August 2012

I also was surprised by the frequency of Lancia Delta and Alfa Romeo Giulietta in the streets. Perhaps this is a posh particularity of the region, very close to the French Riviera. Finally, I verified the Italian trend towards more station wagons with lost of Ford Focus, Opel Astra and Renault Megane. To my big disappointment I didn’t see any DR cars (the Italian company that assembles Chery models locally). However during my last two trips there a few years ago I did see a DR1 (aka Riich M1) and a DR5 (aka Chery Tiggo).

The entire Italy photo report is below.

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China LCV July 2012: Wuling monopolises podium, Hongguang #3

Wuling Hongguang

* See the Top 5 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

New Light Commercial Vehicle sales in China are up an encouraging 6% year-on-year to 321,959 registrations, or way more than in Germany for example. The year-to-date total now stands at 2,911,491 units, down just 1% on 2011. For possibly the first time ever, Chinese brand Wuling monopolises the podium, placing the Sunshine in pole position again with 37,210 units, slowing down its fall at -17% year-on-year vs. -23% year-to-date.

The Wuling Rongguang/Xingwang is back up 2 spots on June to its traditional 2nd place with 24,819 sales, up 6% year-on-year. It is also #2 year-to-date at 227,447 units, up 5%. But the big event this month in the LCV Chinese ranking is the arrival on the third step of the podium (a first for the model) of the Wuling Hongguang thanks to 23,723 sales, which is more than any Passenger Car in China this month! (the Chevrolet Sail sold 23,643 units in July). It is still #5 year-to-date however with 168,539 units.

Previous month: China LCV June 2012: ChangAn Minibus up to #2

One year ago: China LCV July 2011: DongFeng Minivan breaks into Top 5

Full July 2012 Top 5 Ranking Table below.

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Myanmar 2012: Chery QQ3 the new favourite

The Chery QQ3 could be the 2nd Chinese model to rank #1 in an export market

* Many thanks to Myk for digging out this information! *

Up until now I had found it very hard to find even a little bit of information on the new car market in Myanmar, simply because local laws ignored intense demand and allowed the import of only a few thousand vehicles per year. Result: even hours of observation of YouTube videos of the streets of the capital Yangon got me nowhere. And on the downside for Myanmar buyers, this meant 1980’s Toyotas sold for nearly $30,000 locally…

Taxis in Yangon, Myanmar used to look like this…

But things are changing in Myanmar! The government is now selling import licenses to vehicle owners that turn over their junkers for smelting and the market is slowly becoming normalised. And just when I made a big fuss about the first Chinese model ranking #1 (officially) in an export market, it seems we may already have a second one…

…Now they look like this!

A notable breakout new car on Myanmar’s streets is the Chery QQ3. Patrick Winn from CNBC says you can’t stroll more than a few downtown blocks in Yangon without spotting a shiny, new Chery. Their fire-engine red paint jobs catch the eye in a sea of rust buckets. In fact, Chery’s own website claims that Myanmar’s government has “positioned QQ3 as a ‘national car.’”

The Chery QQ3 is brightening up Yangon’s streets

Last December, all 1,000 Chery QQ3 imported by the Ministry of Industry sold out within a week, in spite of seeing its original price, set by the ministry at US$5,800, more than double to US$12,800 once various duties, taxes and licensing fees were added. The reason why the QQ3 is so successful is because it has four doors and can easily be used for taxis because the small engines use little fuel. As a result, owners can easily rent the cars for K15,000 (US$17) a day to taxi drivers…

The same article from the Myanmar Times also mentions the Chery QQ3 is produced locally in Myanmar as the Myanmar Mini Wagon. However local consumers prefer the Chery as they feel the quality will be better. This is the first time I hear about the Myanmar Mini Wagon and I couldn’t find any pictures of it online so if you have more information about it please make sure to get in touch by commenting on here!

Source: Myanmar Times, Myanmar Life Blog. many thanks to Myk for the tip!

Bulgaria July 2012: Ford leads, Great Wall soon in Top 5?

The Great Wall Hover H3 will soon be available in Bulgaria

* See the Top 20 best-selling brands by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Kalo *

Thanks to Kalo, Bulgaria is receiving lots of attention this year. A month ago I described how Great Wall, now the first Chinese manufacturer to have initiated production in Europe in Lovech, Bulgaria, managed to climb within the Top 10 most successful brands in the country over the first 6 months of 2012. Well in July Great Wall does even better: it is up to #8 with 111 sales and 5.4% and only 4 units from the 6th spot! Opel is indeed #6 with 114 sales followed by Chevrolet at 113…

Great Wall Voleex C10

It now seems reasonable to expect Great Wall to enter within the Top 5 favourite brands in Bulgaria before the end of 2012… Over the first 7 months of 2012, Great Wall has sold 627 units in Bulgaria (4.5% and #10), including 226 Steed, 220 Voleex C10 and 181 Hover. Ford tops the brands ranking in July with 214 sales and 10.3% vs. 6.7% year-to-date. Volkswagen is down to #2 with 194 units and 9.4% just above Toyota at 192 and 9.3%. Year-to-date, VW still leads by far with 1,498 sales and 10.7% followed by Toyota at 1,243 and 8.9% and Dacia at 1,053 and 7.5%.

Previous post: Bulgaria 6 months 2012: Great Wall up to #10

Full July 2012 Top 20 Ranking Table below.

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France: Dacia, king of the countryside – Photo report

Dacia Duster in La Foux d’Allos, France August 2012.

* See the entire photo report by clicking on the title! *

When Renault relaunched Romanian brand Dacia in 2004 with the Logan, there were no plans to import the ‘5,000 euro car’ in France. But the French wanted it, so Renault launched it to great success in 2005. The rest is history: Dacia now regularly ranks #5 brand in the country behind the 3 French marques and Volkswagen and it is even more popular when you look at private sales only, with the Duster ranking #5 and the Sandero #9 over the first 6 months of 2012.

Dacia Duster in Allos, France August 2012

Now that I am spending a couple of weeks in France I thought I’d look into this success a little bit further for you. I had read and heard that the French areas where Dacia was the most successful was the countryside. Is that true? Hell yeah!

Dacia Duster in Entrevaux, France August 2012 

Today I travelled for an entire day in the pre-Alps, North of Nice in the South of France, going through little villages like St Vallier, Escragnolles, Castellane, Allos and Entrevaux. So this is a very small sample but I believe still representative of the French countryside as a whole. And all these very picturesque villages had at least 2 or 3 Dacia Duster parked somewhere!

Petanque, dog, mineral water, Duster… It doesn’t get more French than that! Oh wait…

Having lived in Australia for the last 10 years it was really hard for me to believe how fast and effectively the Dacia brand has managed to immerse itself in the French countryside. I had my doubts regarding Renault’s ability to maintain Dacia with such lower prices without cannibalising its main brand….

Dacia Logan MCV in Allos, France August 2012 (and my Mum in the background)

But the more I talk to consumers and professionals the more I realise that the two brands actually don’t compete with each other at all, as in not many people who came into a Renault dealership wanting a Renault would come out with a Dacia as the ‘concept’ of the two brands is just too radically different.

Dacia Logan Pick-up in La Foux d’Allos, France August 2012

Modelwise, the whole Dacia range is present in droves in the French countryside, starting with the Logan sedan, but the Logan MCV (station wagon) is much more frequent, and I even saw my very first Logan Pick-up! As I said above the Duster is literally everywhere. I am trying to get my hands on models ranking by region/department for France so this can be confirmed but I would bet that the Duster is within the Top 3 best-sellers in the French countryside overall, possibly even higher.

Dacia Sandero in Villars-sur-Var, France August 2012 

The Sandero is there too, but relatively less frequent than in the cities and I haven’t spotted any Lodgy or Dokker yet but no doubt they will swarm in all these mountain roads within a few months…

Renault Kangoo in La  Foux d’Allos, France August 2012.

Other models that to my eyes were over-represented in the countryside I went through today were the Renault Kangoo, a veteran best-seller in these regions that would now be threatened by the Duster, the Nissan Qashqai which unsurprisingly hit its highest ever monthly ranking in France last month at #14 but should be well within the Top 10 in the countryside, the Citroen Nemo, C4 new generation and Peugeot 508.

* Many thanks to my dear Mum and Dad for their patience *

The entire photo report is below the Qashqai pic, just click on ‘Read more’.

The Nissan Qashqai is a very common sight in the French countryside

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Thailand Pick-ups July 2012: Toyota Hilux & Chevy Colorado shine

Toyota Hilux

* See the Top 8 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Austin *

Thanks to Austin Rutherford Thai Pick-up sales data has become a monthly update on BSCB. It is a great indication of the future success of these vehicles worldwide, straight from the country where they are all produced and available first. And in July no less than 52,953 pick-ups found a buyer in Thailand only, truly making the country the ‘Pick-up hub of the world.’

Traditionally very stable, the entire Top 8 ranking is unchanged for the third consecutive month, but a couple of models stand out: the Toyota Hilux is up to a fantastic 41.7% share of the market thanks to 22,092 sales and is now up to a round 40% year-to-date at 130,870 units. It leaves its archenemy the Isuzu D-Max well behind at 14,464 sales and 27.3% in July and 101,202 and 30.9% year-to-date.

Below the Mitsubishi Triton at 9.4% (vs. 10.8% year-to-date), the new Chevrolet Colorado resumes its progression at a shiny 7.8% share thanks to 4,117 sales. Both Mazda BT-50 (5.6%) and Ford Ranger (4.5%) are well above their year-to-date shares but below their June scores.

Previous month: Thailand Pick-ups June 2012: Mazda BT-50 and Ford Ranger up

Previous year: Thailand 2011: Toyota Hilux and Isuzu D-Max maintain stranglehold

Full July 2012 Top 8 Ranking Table below.

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