The ten biggest losers of 2018 so far:
1. Infiniti (down 74%)
Infiniti sales have fallen by three quarters in the first half of 2018 compared to last year, which is a huge reversal when a year ago we were admiring an increase of 36% on the year before. The brand needs some solid contenders to make up growth. Instead of building the Q30 and QX30 hatchbacks from the old Mercedes A-Class platform, maybe Infiniti needs to develop an electric luxury model from parent company Nissan’s Leaf platform.
2. smart (down 36%)
The previous-generation smart fortwo was not a very good car, but surprisingly it sold in ever-increasing numbers through its lifecycle. The latest model does not seem to be enjoying anything like the same level of success, even with a doubling of the model range to both two- and four-door versions. Parent company Daimler has already said that smart will become an electric-only car company rather soon, which won’t help sales volumes in the short term but may work out better in the long run.
3. Fiat (down 30%)
It’s another poor start to the year for Fiat. Last year the Italian brand was on this same list, with a 14% drop over 2016, and this year it has fallen even further with a 30% slide. Monthly new limited-edition versions of the Fiat 500 just don’t cut it, and sales of the rest of the range appear to be negligible. The 124 Spider is a lovely car, but is outsold considerably by its Mazda MX-5 sister. Where does Fiat go from here? Well, there are rumours that the entire Fiat Chrysler automotive group could be sold to Hyundai…
4. Nissan (down 30%)
Nissan is the largest manufacturer on this side of our list, with the largest drop in absolute terms of more than 25,000 cars compared to the first six months of 2017. The ever-popular Qashqai SUV makes up over half of all Nissan registrations, so maybe the Micra and other nine models in the Nissan range need to lift their game.
5. Aston Martin (down 30%)
Aston Martin is in the opposite position of McLaren at the top of this article. Last year the company had just launched the DB11 and sales soared. This year’s sales numbers to date reflect a low-volume manufacturer whose main model (Aston Martin Vantage) was at the end of production, leaving a significant gap in sales. Now that the new Vantage is on its way, and with another new model – the DBS Superleggera – set to join it by the end of the year, the second half of 2018 should be busier for Aston Martin dealers.
6. SsangYong (down 29%)
This time last year, SsangYong was holding steady. In 2018, however, the results are considerably down. SsangYong has taken the mantle of “Korea’s cheapest cars” from previous holders Kia and Hyundai, and is trying to emulate their evolution to respected mainstream brands. But it’s a tough market out there with plenty of big rivals offering big deals, and that makes SsangYong’s job that much harder.
7. DS Automobiles (down 24%)
2018 is proving to be another difficult year for Citroën’s luxury spin-off. The new DS 7 Crossback SUV has received solid reviews but is yet to be seen in too many car parks around the country.
Owners PSA Groupe will be hoping that the brand’s heavy TV advertising push for the DS 7 – and substantial investment in new dealership facilities – will start to pay off in the second half of the year. As for the rest of the range, not much has changed since last year. Or the year before, or the year before that…
8. Maserati (down 24%)
Against last year’s 35% growth, this year’s fall of 24% is disappointing for Maserati. The Levante has been an important boost to the trident brand’s sales, but the rest of the range is underachieving.
9. Lotus (down 20%)
It may be a historic British sports car company, but Lotus’ UK sales have always been tiny. Basically, this year has seen sales falling from about 27 per month to 22 per month. It’s not a disaster, but it’s not great either. For the brand’s 70th anniversary this year, it would be nice to see a genuinely new model rather than yet another Elise or Exige special edition with some new stripes and an extra 3hp.
10. Renault (down 15%)
The current range of Renault cars is certainly not bad, but doesn’t really garner that much enthusiasm from the motoring media. The brand has done well with its SUV line-up in recent years, but that market is now swamped with rivals from almost every car manufacturer in the country. (And on a personal note, those Star Wars tie-in TV adverts are cringeworthy…)
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