Peugeot (down 13%)
Having completely overhauled its range, not least replacing all its dull MPV models for svelte-looking SUV/crossovers, Peugeot must be disappointed to be so far down on last year’s results.
The 3008 SUV was awarded European Car of the Year and has received consistently high praise, while the 2008 SUV remains competitive. The 308 hatchback is also a decent model, although one wonders if the company is paying the price for keeping the same name as its rather dowdy predecessor. It gets a facelift in September, but that’s unlikely to reverse the sales decline on its own.
Coming up by the end of the year will be the larger 5008 SUV, which Peugeot will be hoping can achieve the same level of acclaim as its smaller 3008 sibling. Longer-term, the company will have to balance spending on new model development with the costs of integrating Vauxhall and Opel into the family. It could lead to greater resources for new models, or it could drag all the PSA brands down while it gets sorted out.
Lexus (down 13%)
The current Lexus range is as distinctive and dynamic as it has ever been, so to be 13% behind last year’s results for the first six months will be a disappointment.
The SUV range of NX and RX models have considerable street presence and recognition, but the core saloon models struggle to compete against the might of the big German brands. Diesel engines may have a bad reputation these days, but they still make up more than 40% of new car sales and diesel remains a Lexus weakness.
Conversely, Lexus is regarded as a leader in hybrid technology, but hybrids still make up a much smaller slice of the overall market pie. The good news is that this segment will inevitably grow in coming years, and buyers do associate hybrids with Lexus (and parent company Toyota), so the company has reason to feel optimistic about its powertrain platforms over the next few years.
The new LC coupé is a stunning-looking machine, and the upcoming LS luxury saloon will no doubt offer technology galore with bank-vault build quality, but neither of those will be volume sellers. Returning to growth will require more sales from the core CT, IS and GS models, and that seems a bit of a stretch at the moment.