New car models in markets next year

Thursday, 28 December 2006, 06:00 Hrs
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Hamburg: Car makers are launching a host of new models in 2007 with the mass volume segment featuring fresh color combinations, new technology and eco-friendly engines.

A total of 104 new models are hitting the European showrooms, almost a third more than in the previous year, according to German car analyst Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer.

"While in 2006 the focus was on SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) and convertibles the new model cycle is breaking out of the niche sector," says analyst Christopf Stuermer of Global Insight in Frankfurt.

The first quarter of the next year will see a range of new models in the medium class with the next generation of the Mercedes C-Class, the new Audi A4 and the third generation of the Ford Mondeo in the planning. Renault is also scheduling the launch of the new Laguna.

The compact class, which makes up 25 percent of the German market, will see plenty of competition. The South Korean manufacturer Kia is planning the launch of the Cee'd built in Slovenia. Toyota is replacing the Corolla with the Auris and Fiat is planning to phase out the Stilo with a revival of the Bravo.

Nissan is trying its luck with the Qashqai and BMW is expected to come out with a two-door version of the 1-Series. Volkswagen is entering the fray with the Crossgolf, a new station wagon and a revival of the 1970s icon, the Scirocco.

There is also speculation that Ford is planning a Focus Coupe and a sport version of the RS. Opel is launching a face lift of the Astra early in the year.

In the small car segment Smart has presented the second generation of the Fortwo while Skoda is planning a new Fabia and Renault is coming out with a new Twingo.

Despite all the activity in the mass volume sector a lot is happening also in the niche market, according to Dudenhoeffer.

New sports cars are the Audi R8, the Opel GT and a 3-Series convertible from BMW. In the offroad segment VW has presented concrete plans at the Los Angeles Motor Show of the Concept Tiguan, a smaller brother of the Touareg.

Three new French SUVs are in the offing: the Peugeot 4007, the Citroen C-Crosser and the Renault study Koleos. Ford is also working on an SUV version of the Focus.

Despite the recent drop in oil prices, the trend is clearly going toward more fuel economy. Green cars running on biofuels such as ethanol are becoming more popular. The European market has however shown little popularity for full hybrids as offered by Toyota.

Stuermer from Gobal Insight sees more of a future in the starter generator concept as offered by Honda.

New driver assistance systems are another trend. Safety systems warn the driver, if he is in danger of falling asleep behind the wheel, they recognize traffic signs and automatically brake the car in an emergency.

"The customer will however have to look critically at whether the price really justifies such systems," says Nick Margetts of Jato Dynamics.

The restructuring of model segments, new versions, options and packages do not make it any easier for the customer to make his or her choice.

But when it comes down to the price, there is a lot to choose from in the cheap car category. The Dacia, built by the Renault subsidiary in Romania, is bringing out a cheap station wagon. The Chinese manufacturer is selling VW Passat-sized Brilliance B S6 between 19,000 and 20,000 euros.

The market analysts still see potential in the cheap car market segment.

Chinese cars still make up only a small niche segment on European markets but expert Dudenhoeffer is convinced that more Chinese cars will be seen on the roads in future.
Source: IANS
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