Sales of Alternative Power cars in the United States increased a hopeful 47.2% in the first quarter of 2017 to 41,132 units, or 1% of the total US market. This is a combination of a 39.4% growth for EVs to 21,379 sales and a 56.7% growth for PHEVs to 19,753 sales. The EV segment is still slightly larger but the PHEV segment grows faster and is catching up, as especially luxury brands are entering this niche of the market before making a switch to full electric models. While regular (non-plug in) hybrids are struggling due to low gas prices, EVs and PHEV continue to benefit from Federal and State rebates that stimulate sales of these vehicles. And new entrants will keep arriving in showrooms this year, so expect the growth to continue.
US car sales by segment
Sales of Commercial Vans in the US are down 5.4% in the first quarter of 2017 to 103,197 units, but this decline is completely due to small commercial vans, as all of the 5 players in this sub-segment lose by double digits for a 25.4% loss (to 17,882 sales), compared to stable sales for large commercial vans at 85,315 units. Keep in mind, these figures include both cargo vans and passenger vans. Small vans quickly gained popularity after new players emerged since 2013, after the Ford Transit Connect paved the way since 2009. The segment peaked at over 90,000 sales in 2015 and 2016, but that appears to have been the ceiling for its potential, at least at the current level of gas prices, which means companies prefer the added practicality of large vans or even pickup trucks over the efficiency of smaller vans. The large van segment peaked at almost 372,000 sales last year, the highest volume in 28 years, and a stable start of the year is a signal of continued strength of and confidence in the US economy.… Continue Reading …
Sales of Large Sports Cars and Exotics fell by 5.5% in the first quarter of 2017, following a 10.4% decline in 2016. Total volume in this segment stood at 11,370 in Q1. And there’s not a lot of product news expected this year, so the decline is expected to last throughout the year. Then again, keep in mind the segment peaked at over 60,000 sales in 2015, when it almost doubled up in just 3 years time, so small declines after such an impressive growth curve are nothing to be ashamed of, especially on the lack of product news, as mentioned. We do welcome two newcomers to the segment compared to Q1 of last year, but both are still at the bottom of the ranking: the second generation Acura NSX and the all-new Ford GT.
The Small Premium Sports segment accelerates its rate of decline as sales in the first quarter of 2017 are down by 11.6% to a mere 3,001 sales. In 2016, the smallest segment in the industry already shrank by 1.8%, despite a still very fresh line-up of contenders and three updated models: the facelifted Mercedes-Benz SLK, now renamed SLC, and the facelifted Porsche Boxster and Cayman, now renamed 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman. 2017 is expected to bring a new BMW Z5, co-developed with Toyota, which will launch its new Supra on the same platform, but I’m doubtful if that can turn the segment around, also because it’s unlikely to arrive in showrooms long before the end of the year.
The Small Sports segment accelerates its decline in the first quarter of 2017 with a loss of 16.8% after already losing 6.5 percent in 2016. Sales of small sports cars dropped to 69,938 in Q1 as 9 out of the 13 models lost volume, of which 7 with double digits. The top-3 are the American muscle cars, which hold more than three quarters of the segment and they lose slightly faster than the rest of the segment. And keeping in mind sales of muscle cars have traditionally proven to be a bellwether for the entire US car market, this could be yet another indication that car sales have hit their peak. Hopefully the facelifted Ford Mustang can breathe some much-needed new life into the segment. The only other sports car news in 2017 will be the new Toyota Supra, co-developed by the Japanese brand with BMW.
Sales growth in the Premium Large SUV segment slowed in the first quarter of 2017, with a gain of 4.9% to 142,801 sales. Subdivided in Large and Full-sized SUVs, we can conclude that almost all of the growth comes from the latter. While large SUVs gained 1.5% to 112,501 sales, the largest premium SUVs on the road increased their sales by 19.5% to 30,300 units. This is a similar trend as with mainstream crossovers and SUVs, where also the smallest (subcompact crossovers) and the largest (full-sized SUVs) were the fastest growing “truck” segments. This segment has seen quite a few new entrants and model updates in 2016, but won’t sit still this year either, so expect the winning streak to be extended to 8 years of consecutive growth. Combined, out of 24 players in this segment, only 9 lose volume, of which just 3 with double digits, compared to 7 double digit gainers.
Sales in the Premium Mid-sized SUV segment rose by 12.5% in the first quarter of 2017, to top 101,497 units. That puts it just 7,000 units behind the premium midsized sedan segment which loses 2.1%. That shows the crossover segment continues its steady growth rate after already gaining close to 15% in 2016, as buyers are switching from sedans to crossovers and SUV, which in then attracts new models to the fast growing segment. The two new nameplates in the segment are storming up the charts, as well as a number of facelifted models, while there will be plenty of news again this year, with an all-new Volvo XC60 coming up in a few months, as well as the new generation BMW X3. Compared to the full year 2016, the entire top-6 is shuffled up, showing how this is one of the most dynamic and competitive segments, with 6 models challenging for the lead.… Continue Reading …
Sales in the Premium Compact SUV segment in the US rose a very dynamic 39.2% in the first quarter of 2017, after already gaining 24.2% in 2016. Total sales in Q1 were 30,286 as only one model in the segment lost sales: the Mercedes-Benz GLA. With the new generation Mini Countryman in showrooms now, and the arrival of the Volvo XC40 by the end of the year (or perhaps early next year), the segment is bound to continue on this path of growth.
Highlights for Q1 2017
- The new generations BMW X1 helps the nameplate hold on to the segment lead it already took for the full year 2016, after the model alreayd almost doubled its volume last year.
- The Mercedes-Benz GLA was the segment leader in the first quarter of last year, but is now relegated into third place by the model that is developed on the same platform, using the same engines and even shares some interior components: the Infiniti QX30. The newcomer comes out of nowhere and lands in the segment #2 spot, not even that far behind the leader. In fact, the QX30 was still in startup mode in January, but outsold the X1 in February as well as March when it started to gain traction, so it has a real shot at leading this segment by the next quarter. By all means its 2nd place is already an impressive performance, especially considering no Infiniti model has ever been this high up in any segment, but also considering it outsells its platform rival from a much more established brand by a large margin.
- In fourth place we find the steadily improving Audi Q3 with sales up 20.8%, even though that means it loses share of the segment as its growth rate is half that of the entire segment combined.
- The fastest growing model in the segment is the Range Rover Evoque, helped by its facelift in 2016, as it is closing in on the Q3.
- The Mini Countryman has just been replaced by the new generation, which started deliveries in March, so its Q1 result is not representative for its potential. Expect the Countryman to at least double its 2016 volume of 12.706 sales, which would make this year the nameplate’s best ever, and deservedly so, as the new generation has grown in size to better suit the needs of buyers in this segment.
Note: Clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off
After a 14.2% drop in 2016, the Premium Large segment is down by another 13.6% in Q1 of 2017, to just 53,278 sales. This means 2017 is likely to become the fourth consecutive year the segment loses volume after peaking at a record 334,298 units in 2013, losing a total of more than 100,000 annual units in this period, which would bring it back to its 2010 level. And the drop in sales comes at a time when there is still plenty of fresh product in the segment, with the new generation Mercedes-Benz E-class, Volvo S90 and V90 Cross Country, Lincoln Continental, updated Jaguar XF and Genesis G80 all less than 12 months in showrooms. Perhaps the new generation BMW 5-series can turn the tide when it arrives in Q2.… Continue Reading …
Sales in the Premium Mid-sized segment fell by 2.1% in the first quarter of 2017, which is better than the overall market. It’s also an improvement from the loss of 15.3% percent in 2016, and much better than the -19.2% of the mainstream midsized car segment. US dealers delivered a total of 108,281 premium midsized models, which is barely more than the almost 101,500 premium midsized crossovers they sold in the same period (an increase of 12.5%). If this trend continues, the crossover segment will soon be larger than the car segment. 8 of the 16 remaining models in the segment showed double digit declines, while just 2 showed double digit increases and another 2 were all-new. One sidenote to the ranking: the Mercedes-Benz C-class is the only model in the segment for which sales of the coupe and convertible are included with those of the sedan/station wagon, as all others have distinctive names for their sexier models: 3-Series/4-Series, A4/A5, Q50/Q60, IS/RC. That’s why we’ve decided to give you 2 rankings this time: the blue graph with the split figures and the green graph with the combined figures. As you can see, that makes the difference between having a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW on top.