Sales in the Premium Compact segment are the fastest declining segment in the US car market, as sales are down 27% in the first quarter of 2017, following a 19.5% decline in the second half of 2016. Five out of the segment’s eight models show double digit declines, of which the entire top-4. The only way to give this segment some positive news is that it would be down by “just” 2.8% if we considered the Infiniti QX30 to belong here as well. The Qx30 is marketed as a crossover, while in fact it’s really just a hatchback. Then again, following the same reasoning the Mercedes-Benz GLA should be classified as a hatchback as well, so we’re not sure how to classify it. We’re interested in what our readers have to say about this matter. In Europe, it is sold under two different names for both segment: the Q30 hatchback and QX30 crossover, even though the only distinction between the two is the higher ground clearance of the latter. In the US, the Q30 is sold as the QX30 Sport, but Infiniti does not specify the take rate on that version, which would have made things a bit easier for us. For now, we’ll display it here for reference (it would instantly have become the segment leader), but keep it officially in the small SUV segment.
Sales in the Large Pickup segment grew by 5.7% in the first quarter of 2017, which again beats the overall market, just like it did in all of 2016. And thanks to the crisis in the midsized sedan segment, US consumers (and businesses) bought more full-sized pickup trucks in Q1 2017 than they bought midsized sedans, until not long ago the bread-and-butter segment of the US car market. That means this segment, with only 6 players, it the second largest segment in the market. In fact, just the four top selling large pickups sold over half-a-million units in the first quarter, more than the entire 17-vehicle midsized car segment. Last year, the segment recovered to 2006 levels after gaining volume for 7 straight years and it look like low gas prices are going to give it an 8th year of growth, even though the only product news in the segment is the new-for-2016 Nissan Titan.
The Small Pickup segment was the fastest growing segment in 2016 with a gain of 25.5%, but it has stabilized in the first quarter of 2017 with an improvement of just 2.6% to 98,668 sales. That still compares favorably against an overall market that’s slightly down, but the segment has clearly lost its mojo. And if we zoom in on the individual models, we see that all of the segment growth can be attributed to a single model: the all-new Honda Ridgeline, as all other players lose volume. Since Nissan still haven’t given any updates on the arrival of the next generation Frontier and the eagerly awaited Jeep Wrangler pickup is unlikely to make it to dealerships this year, the success of the segment depends on the return of the Ford Ranger later this year.
Sales in the Large SUV segment increased by 25.9% in Q1 of 2017, after already improving more than 20% in 2016. A total of 80,604 large SUVs were sold in the US in the first three months of the year, making it the second-fastest growing segment overall and the fastest growing mainstream segment. Still, it’s a far cry from the 750,000 annual units the segment sold in the first few years of the new millennium so there’s plenty of room to grow, especially with continued low gas prices. Each of the segment’s 8 models increased its volume, of which only one with single digits. The Nissan Armada even more than doubles up thanks to the new model generation, while 2017 will also bring an all-new Ford Expedition.
Sales in the Mid-sized SUV segment increased by 7.3% in the first quarter of 2017, following a 4.4% gain in 2016. Total volume for Q1 was 445,875, which means it’s closing in on the midsized sedan segment. Of the 18 models in this segment, 7 showed double digit growth or better, 8 showed double digit declines, 2 showed single digit declines and only one model increased by less than 10%. This year we’ll see the introduction of the new, super-conservative VW Atlas, as well as the second-generation Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and the smaller (“right-sized”) GMC Acadia and an updated Ford Explorer. Next year Subaru will join the party too with its Ascent.… Continue Reading …
After a 3.9% increase in 2016, sales in the Compact SUV segment pick up steam and improve 9% in the first quarter of 2017, to 742,230 units. This makes it by far the largest segment with a comfortable lead of more than 200,000 sales over the second-largest segment, that of large pickup trucks. It’s also 270,000 sales ahead of the midsized sedan segment, which used to be the biggest segment until 2013. A whole bunch of new or redesigned models will hit the market this year or already have in the first quarter, which should only help the cars in this segment consolidate its position as the family-hauler favorites.
After booming growth rates in the last couple of quarters, the Subcompact SUV segment takes a brief moment of pauze, although its 12.1% growth rate to 93,249 sales is still much better than any of the other mainstream segments with the exception of the Full-sized SUV segment. The reason for the slower growth pace is the lack of new models to the segment lately, but that will pick up later this year as Hyundai and Kia are expected to launch their small crossovers Kona and Stonic, Toyota will launch the C-HR and Ford will bring an updated version of its EcoSport to the US, while Volkswagen will be traditionally late to the party with the T-Roc which isn’t expected Stateside before 2019.
In the meantime, the segment is shifting between winners and losers, with the entire top-4 consolidating thanks to double digit increases, with the #4 growing the fastest and the #1 the slowest, while the bottom 3 are all losing by double digits and therefore falling further behind.
After growing slightly in 2016, the Minivan segment is back in decline in the first quarter of 2017 with sales down 14.4% to 122,787 units. The segment that sold over 1.2 million units a year in its peak years 1999 and 2000, and still made up over a million sales as recently as 2005 has hovered around half that figure since 2009 and can’t seem to make a decent recovery as 7-seater crossovers are simply more trendy than minivans, which suffer from their soccer-mom image even though they’re much more practical and efficient in real life. Even the all-new Chrysler Pacifica can’t reverse the slide, and if even the new Honda Odyssey, due later this year, can’t stabilize the segment, it may be doomed.
The Large Car segment fell by almost as much as the Midsized segment in the first quarter of 2017: down 18.4% to 104,985 sales. The segment that has already completely disappeared in Europe about 10 years ago is in danger of extinction in the US too, as there are few plans for new models anytime soon (just the new generation of the slow-selling Azera), so the double digit declines are likely to continue through the rest of this year. There basically are two tiers in this segment: the still relatively fresh models (Impala, Maxima, LaCrosse, Cadenza) and the decade-old models that have seen their life cycles extended for yet another few years (Charger, 300, Taurus) or which will be axed soon (SS, Caprice). The one stuck in the middle is the Avalon at 5 years old. Of the 11 nameplates in this segment, 7 showed double digit declines, only three showed single digit declines and a single model improved (Chevy SS), and that’s probably because dealers are dumping off their last remaining stock before the model is killed off.… Continue Reading …
Sales of Mid-sized cars in the US are in a similar tough spot as in Europe: down by 19.2% in Q1 of 2017 and dipping below half a million units at 472,692 sales. This is the worst drop among all mainstream segments and second to only the premium large car segment. As a result, the compact car segment has now become larger in volume than the midsized car segment, and if it keeps this position until the end of this year it would be the very first time ever that the midsized segment is not the largest mainstream car segment in the US. And with the large pickup truck segment also outselling the midsized cars in Q1, this segment has gone from perennial #1 until 2015 to out of the top-3 so far in 2017. The main culprit for this demise is obviously a shift towards compact crossovers, the largest segment since last year. This trend is clearly visible in the March and Q1 model rankings: if the Camry and Accord used to fight for the title of best selling non-pickup in America, now the Accord is out of the overall top-10 and the Camry is outsold by the Nissan Rogue, with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 right on its heels.