Mitsubishi (down 15%)
On the positive side, the Mitsubishi Outlander remains a highly-successful crossover, especially in plug-in hybrid guise where it is a market leader. On the negative side, there’s not a lot going on anywhere else. The Mirage and ASX are uninspiring in a market full of quality opposition, and the ancient Shogun is a bygone from another era.
Looking down the road, Mitsubishi has its hopes pinned on the new Eclipse Cross, which will slide into its crossover/SUV range between the smaller ASX and larger Outlander next year. Unfortunately, this is a segment already occupied by almost every manufacturer on the planet, so it will be a tough task to effect any real growth for Mitsubishi.
Vauxhall (down 15%)
Vauxhall reaches the end of an era in the next few months, as long-time owner General Motors hands over the keys to incoming owner PSA Group. The news of the company’s sale (along with sister brand Opel in Europe) was announced just before the Geneva motor show, and completely overshadowed the new vehicles Vauxhall had on display.
The SUV range of Crossland X, Mokka X and upcoming Grandland X are all based on PSA designs anyway, so the company is well on the way to integrating with the new owners. It remains to be seen what the effects will be on Vauxhall’s UK factories and Opel’s European facilities, but most industry pundits are expecting PSA to start wielding the axe sooner rather than later as it tries to make Vauxhall and Opel profitable for the first time in a long time.
The new Insignia range is impressive, but in a dying market segment as buyers flock to SUVs over traditional saloons and estates. The latest Astra is competitive but in a cut-throat market, and the Corsa already seems a step behind newer unveilings like the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and SEAT Ibiza.
Mazda (down 14%)
Surely one of the most underrated automotive brands in the UK, Mazda continues to fly under the radar of most car buyers. There really isn’t a dud model in the range, but a historic lack of diesel engines has always worked against it, as has a relatively small dealer network.
The new CX-5 is another competitive car, and the smaller CX-3 and Mazda2 models have been given updates in recent months, while the MX-5 continues to rack up awards from all over the world, but it’s currently not translating into new customers here in Britain.
Fiat (down 14%)
Fiat is in danger of simply becoming the Fiat 500 car company, as the rest of its product range is almost invisible alongside the ubiquitous city car. The new 124 Spider is a welcome twist on the Mazda MX-5, but that will never be a volume seller. The new Tipo was launched to a large round of indifference last year, which was not helped by Thatcham and Euro NCAP criticising its crash test performance. And the Panda’s awkward looks remain a hindrance to its undoubted versatility.
The good news is that the 500 family keeps on selling, although the 500L and 500X spin-offs don’t fare as well as the original 500 hatch. But with no planned replacement for the very old Punto on the horizon, nor any family-sized SUVs, Fiat may struggle to grow its market share anytime soon.