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China: How local brands may finally find their mojo at home

Chery E5 China June 2012The Chery E5 could be just what the Chinese needed after all…

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It’s no secret that apart from in the LCV segment, Chinese brands have been struggling at home for a while (see China February 2012: When will Chinese cars rule at home?). Granted, last November in the midst of China-Japan tensions, the penetration rate of Chinese passenger cars shot up to 35%, its highest in 20 years. But it’s still incredibly low compared to Japan and South Korea, two Asian car manufacturing powerhouses that have built their success overseas on a quasi-monopoly at home. A very interesting article on French website claims however that the Chinese woes at home may be about to ease a little.

ChangAn Eado 2012The ChangAn Eado’s potential lies in export markets and the Chinese Far West

But first let’s backtrack a few years. The bulk of the explosive Chinese car market growth – from a mere 1.5 million annual units in 2002 (including LCVs) to a whopping 19.6 million 10 years later – has been for the most part absorbed by well-off urbanites from the East coast. Their culture and buying power have biased their car choices towards more expensive and non-Chinese models. When the government put in place limitations on the obtention of licence plates to curb congestion and pollution in very large cities like Shanghai and Beijing in 2011, this trend accelerated.

Lifan 720 China January 2013. Picture courtesy of auto.ifeng.comLifan 720. Arguably, Lifan is currently more successful in Russia than in China…

Nowadays Shanghai licence plates alone can set you back as much as $15,000. For this price, only the (very) well-off can afford a new car, and their choice is not Chinese, which represent only 9% of new car sales in Shanghai and 10% in Beijing, down from 20% before the licence plate restrictions. If these measures are extended to Tier 2-3 cities, you would assume the situation could become truly dramatic for Chinese manufacturers. Not so, according to Autoactu. Most local brands have recognised that their opportunity now lies in secondary markets deeper inside the ‘Chinese Far-West’…

BYD F3 Surui China February 2013. Picture courtesy of auto.ifeng.comThe BYD F3 could get back to pole position at home when the country’s West develops.

These areas are currently considerably under-motorised and given the evolution of the market in the last decade, no foreign manufacturer has spent too much time thinking about a truly affordable, no frills offering. This is where local models come in…

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Algeria February 2013: Renault Clio IV and Peugeot 301 impress

Peugeot 301 Algeria February 2013Peugeot 301

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Fascinating months for the Algerian new car market, with recent launches being met with instant success in the country. The overall market is up a whopping 64% year-on-year in February to 44,360 registrations and up 47% year-to-date. The Dacia Logan is once again the runaway leader thanks to a huge 5,522 sales and 12.4% share, now adding up to 10,425 units after just two months. Astonishing start for the Renault Clio IV landing directly in 2nd place at 3,083 units (this includes a few Clio III as well).

The ‘low-cost’ Peugeot 301 confirms it is a serious contender for the title of Algeria’s most popular model in 2013: after lodging a world-best 5th position in January, it is up a further two spots this month to land on the Algerian podium at #3 with 2,530 sales and 5.7%, and now #4 year-to-date at 4,572 units. The other Peugeot newcomer, the 208, also fares well: it ranks #6 this month with 2,085 sales and 4.7% share. Brand-wise, Peugeot stays on top with 8,970 sales and 18,231 year-to-date (thanks to the 301 and 208), followed by Renault at 7,275 and Dacia at 6,026. Hyundai is back in the Top 5 at #4 and 4,914 units with the Accent back up to #4 with 2,109 sales.

Previous month: Algeria January 2013: Seat Ibiza #2, Peugeot 301 directly #5

Previous year: Algeria Full Year 2012: Peugeot 207 tops record market

Full February 2013 Top 10 models and brands Ranking Tables below.

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Portugal March 2013: Renault Clio #1, Mercedes A-Class #9!

Mercedes A Class Portugal March 2013Mercedes A-Class

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Jose *

After going through a brands ranking only for the first 3 months of the year, thanks to Jose I can now share with you the Top 10 most popular models in Portugal for the first Quarter of 2013. Portuguese new car sales seem to have bottomed out, now up a shy 3% year-on-year to 24,147 registrations which compares extremely well against other European countries in financial difficulty (Cyprus -42%, Greece -18% and Ireland -14%). Boosted by its new generation, the Renault Clio is in the lead over the period with 1,231 sales and 5.1%, ahead of the VW Polo at 4.9% and Peugeot 208 at 4.7%.

Leader over the Full Year 2012, the Renault Megane is down to #4 at 1,006 units and 4.2%. Premium models do extremely well once again, for two reasons: sales to companies have fared better than private ones and in crisis times the social classes still able to purchase a new car tend to go for premium categories. In this context, the BMW 3 Series jumps from #15 in 2012 to #8 with 588 sales and 2.4%, the Mercedes A-Class benefits from the new model to take off from #45 to #9 (!) thanks to 576 units and 2.4% while the BMW 1 Series rounds up the Top 10 at #10 with 536 units and 2.2%.

Previous post: Portugal March 2013: Renault and Volkswagen dominate

Previous models ranking: Portugal Full Year 2012: Renault Megane #1 in worst year since 1985

One year ago: Portugal March 2012: Renault Clio leads, BMW 1 Series strong

Full Q1 2013 Top 10 Ranking Table below.

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Iran March 2013: Iran Khodro Runna continues to improve

Iran Khodro Runna Iran March 2013Iran Khodro Runna – with a Paykan in the background

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Iran uses the Persian calendar in which March 2013 roughly corresponds to Bahman, the last month of the year 1391. Over that period 71,028 new vehicles were produced in the country, a 34% year-on-year drop, to be compared with -37% in February, -45% in January and -53% in December, confirming the situation could slowly be getting back to normal for the Iranian new car market. The Saipa Pride remains far above the rest of the cars produced in the country but it is dropping 41% year-on-year to 21,844 units, finishing the year 1391 at 276,992 units, down 55% on 1390. The Iran Khodro Samand is also faring worse than average this month at -31% to 10,675 units, but is down a more clement 21% over the full year 1391 to 110,479 units.

The Peugeot Pars remains at a solid third position this month thanks to 8,105 units produced, down only 7% year-on-year and above the 5th place it holds over the Full Year. The Peugeot 405 is down 60% at #4 this month and down 40% at #3 this year while the Renault Tondar 90 (aka Dacia Logan) is down an ok 22% at #5 this month vs. -14% and #4 over the Full Year. In the meantime, the Iran Khodro Runna continues to improve its production rate month after month, reaching a record 3,650 units in March, double its score of 4 months ago.

Previous month: Iran February 2013: Peugeot Pars and Lifan 620 shine

One year ago: Iran March 2012: Last good showing for Peugeot

Full March 2013 Top 19 Ranking Table below.

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Senegal: The only country in the world to crown Mitsubishi?

Mitsubishi L200 Senegal 2013Could the Mitsubishi L200 top the Senegalese models ranking?

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Up until today I had not managed to get official sales information by brand for Senegal but thanks to Andrea we now have a little bit more insight on this sub-saharian market, and The Africa Project continues to map out this fascinating continent little by little. Granted, the data is a little… well dated as it is from 2008 when an estimated 6,000 new vehicles were sold in the country.

Dakar Alexandre FoulonStreet scene in Dakar, Senegal. Picture by Alexandre Foulon, all rights reserved.

However it reveals a very interesting fact about the Senegalese market: that Mitsubishi leads the manufacturers ranking ahead of Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen. If confirmed and still valid in 2013, this would make Senegal the only country in the world where Mitsubishi is crowned. The Japanese manufacturer’s previous “best” was the Philippines where it currently ranks #2.

Previous post: Senegal: Toyota Hilux favourite, Peugeot losing grip

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Belgium March 2013: Renault Clio and BMW 3 Series impress

Renault Clio 2013Renault Clio

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

Second Belgian update for today, and now we are looking at the models ranking for March and year-to-date. As a reminded new car sales in Belgium are down 11% year-on-year in March to 53,076 registrations, which brings the year-to-date total to 149,160 units, still up 0.5% on 2012. Once again Megane/Scenic, C4/C4 Picasso and C3/C3 Picasso sales are combined which puts the Renault Megane in the lead with 2,668 sales and 5% in March and 6,454 and 4.3% year-to-date. The VW Golf is however the best-selling single model at 1,974 units and 3.7% this month and 4,969 and 3.3% YTD.

BMW 3 Series 2013BMW 3 Series

The Renault Clio follows with a brilliant 1,450 sales and 2.7% in March, ranking #4 at 2.5% YTD while the BMW 3 Series is up from #10 in 2012 to #3 so far in 2013 with a very impressive 4,030 units and 2.7%, including 1,212 (#4) in March. The Nissan Qashqai is up to an unbelievable 5th place in March (vs. #11 in 2012) while the Fiat 500, potentially boosted by the 500L version, is up to #6 both in March and YTD vs. #16 last year. The Peugeot 208 for its part is up to a slightly disappointing 8th position this month and #10 YTD.

A-KlasseMercedes A-Class

Other great performers in this start of 2013 in Belgium include the new gen Mercedes A-Class up to #13 both in March and year-to-date at 2,498 sales and 1.7%, the Skoda Octavia up to #15 in both rankings, the Volvo V40 up to #16 in March and the Hyundai ix35 up to #14 year-to-date.

Previous post: Belgium Full Year 2012: VW Golf and Renault Megane on top

Previous brands post: Belgium March 2013: Volkswagen and Renault back in charge

Full March 2013 Top 20 Ranking Table below.

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Andorra Q1 2013: BMW most popular brand again

2014 BMW X4 Andorra March 20132014 BMW X4, almost certain to be successful in Andorra.

* See the Top 4 best-selling brands by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Rutger *

Over the first quarter of 2013, the Andorran new car market is down a painful 15% year-on-year to 344 registrations. As in 2012, BMW is the most popular brand in the market with 48 sales for an impressive 14% market share, way ahead of Ford, #2 at 7.8% and Mercedes and Suzuki equal #3 at 6.7%.

Previous post: Andorra 7 months 2012: BMW #1, holds almost 12% of the market

Full Q1 2013 Top 4 Ranking Table below.

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Liechtenstein Q1 2013: VW, Audi and Toyota improve

Toyota RAV4 Liechtenstein March 2013Toyota grabs 9% of the Liechtenstein market over Q1 2013

* See the Top 32 All-brands ranking by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Rutger *

465 new vehicles found a buyer over the first Quarter of 2013, and as in 2012 Volkswagen and Audi are the two most popular brands, both even improving their market share year-on-year. VW sells 87 units for an outstanding 18.7% share vs. 17.3% in 2012 and Audi is at 54 sales and 11.6% vs. 9.9%. But the most impressive progression is without a doubt delivered by Toyota, going from 5.6% share in 2012 to 9% and 42 units over the period.

Other great performers include BMW (8.6%) and Mercedes (7.1%) both improving their shares even though their drop one spot, Suzuki going from 2.1% in 2012 to 4.1% and #8 now, Mitsubishi exactly doubling its share from 1.7% and #20 to 3.4% and #10 and Honda going from 1.3% to 2.2% at #12.

Previous post: Liechtenstein Full Year 2012: Range Rover Evoque at world best

Full Q1 2013 Top 32 All-brands Ranking Table below.

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Belgium Full Year 2012: VW Golf and Renault Megane on top

Renault Megane Belgium 2012Renault Megane

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

Thanks to a tip for Rutger I can now share with you an overall models ranking for Belgium for the Full Year 2012. Better late than never… However the ranking is biased by the fact that FEBIAC still counts together the Renault Megane and Scenic, Citroen C4 and C4 Picasso and C3 and C3 Picasso. In this context, the Megane is #1 over the Full Year with 24,816 sales and 5.1% with the VW Golf taking the 2nd spot at 14,447 units and 3%. Needless to say the Golf is in fact #1 when you take out the Scenic figure from the Megane sales. The Citroen C4/Picasso rounds up the podium with 10,182 sales, just above the Opel Astra and VW Polo, all at 2.1% share. Further down, notice the BMW 3 Series at #10 with 8,269 units and 1.7% (vs. #18 in 2011), the Nissan Qashqai up to #11 vs. #31 and the BMW 1 Series up to #12 vs. #28.

Previous post: Belgium March 2013: Volkwagen and Renault back in charge

Previous models ranking: Belgium November 2012: Discover the Top 338 All-models ranking!

One year ago: Belgium Full Year 2011: VW Golf ahead of Renault Megane

Full Year 2012 Top 20 Ranking Table below.

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World: 25,000 sales targeted for Alpine revival

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While Renault has nailed the low-cost formula with Dacia, prompting other manufacturers to follow suit (Nissan with Datsun and potentially Fiat with Autobianchi), on the other end of the scale, the French manufacturer is also working on ressucitating the Alpine brand, with a relaunch scheduled for 2016, over 20 years after the last Alpine rolled off the production line.

According to Australian website, the new model won’t be the same ‘monster’ as the A110-50 concept that was previewed at Monaco last year (pictured above). Instead, the new Alpine will be a true recreation of the core DNA of great models past, albeit with some ‘modern values’. The project is a joint venture between Renault and Caterham and will see two very different bodies share mutual underpinnings, but the details, so far, are a closely guarded secret.

Former Renault Sport boss and current CEO of Alpine, Bernard Ollivier says “The new challenge is quite exciting – to re-launch the Alpine brand in a joint-venture with Alpine and Caterham – my challenge is to design two cars; [fortunately] the brands are not so different. Our objective is not to go very fast, it’s [about] pleasure in the bends.” Mr Ollivier said that unlike Porsche the priority for his car is ‘not on expense’ and that in Europe he envisages a price tag of ‘somewhere between 50,000 and 70,000 Euros’.

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