Over the past two years, Renault has overtaken Ford and Opel to become the second-largest brand in Europe by unit sales, riding the momentum from a wave of stylish new models, especially in the hot crossover segment. But analysts say that success will be harder to maintain in 2017 as growth in the overall European market slows and the product pipeline empties out.
Hybrid and plug-in hybrid sales grew an impressive 30 percent to just over 400,000 in Europe last year, but the real impact in the midterm will be made by mild hybrids, analysts predict. By 2025 mild hybrids will capture 18 percent of the European market, IHS Automotive forecasts. That’s compared with 6 percent for plug-in hybrids, 3 percent for full hybrids and 3 percent for full-electric vehicles in the same time frame. We look at the Europe’s fast-changing hybrid sector.
Our Latest Launches section showcases two brands -- Mini and Nissan -- that are counting on their newest models to shake things up. The Mini Countryman has grown to become the BMW subsidiary’s biggest model to date and it is likely to remain the marque’s maximum-sized car. The Countryman is 200mm longer and 30mm wider than the first-generation model, which pushes it up into the compact class where it will take on models such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3.
Nissan, meanwhile, wants to re-establish the Micra as one of the 10 top-sellers in Europe’s biggest and most competitive segment after its predecessor slipped to a disappointing No. 18. Nissan executives explained why they are confident the new Micra can achieve its target.
Switching to suppliers, Tata Steel has responded to rising steel imports from China by improving its higher-margin tailored blanks business. A recent 4-million pound (4.7-million euro) investment at the Indian-owned company’s UK plant has tripled production of tailored blanks, which are primarily used by premium automakers such as BMW Group. Tata Steel is looking to expand its business with volume automakers by showing them the weight-saving benefits of the technology.
SUVs and crossovers benefited most from Europe’s better-than-expected sales surge last year. Combined sales of models that included the Renault Captur, Nissan Qashqai, BMW X1 and Jaguar F-Pace increased 22 percent to nearly 3.8 million units, according to data from JATO Dynamics. That rise easily outpaced the overall market’s 6.5 percent increase to 15 million. Our exclusive annual by-segment analysis of the European market based on data from JATO Dynamics shows that SUVs and crossovers accounted for a quarter of the region’s total vehicle sales in 2015, up from 21 percent in 2015 and 20 percent in 2014.
Enjoy the issue!
Luca Ciferri, Associate Publisher and Editor