If you thought (or were hoping) the SUV-boom is going to end anytime soon, think again. Sales of the biggest and most expensive Off-roaders that hardly ever actually go off road rose by another 19% in 2016, which makes this the third consecutive year of double digit growth for the segment. That means in those three years European buyers have scooped up an additional 100.000 large premium SUVs annually to a total of almost 290.000 per year. If there was a clear and dominant leader the year before, in 2016 the #2 and #3 were within 10% of the leader. The BMW X5 still tops the charts but lost 3 percentage points of share as the competition has reloaded with fresh models. In fact, the X5 was in third place in Q4, behind the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7, albeit by a tiny margin. The Swedish SUV is up 73% to take 2nd place while the Q7 gains 61% to move into 3rd place, both helped by their new generations which replace models that were first launched in 2002 and 2005 respectively. For the XC90 2016 also sets a new volume record, selling just 300 units more than in 2005.
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
The Mercedes-Benz GLE takes fourth place with with sales up 28% on combined volume with the ML-Class last year, moving ahead of the Range Rover Sport which sees stable sales. The Volkswagen Touareg drops off the podium with sales down 23% and feels the Porsche Cayenne breathing down its neck. The Cayenne already outsold its sibling in Q4 when it gained 36% on the same quarter of last year. The bottom three in the top-10 are relatively stable for the year as well, although the Jeep Grand Cherokee lost 11% in Q4, and the Land Rover Discovery lost two thirds of its volume, as the next generation is about to hit showrooms in Q1 of 2017. The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe has been unable to threaten the BMW X6, while the Lexus RX is the fastest growing model in the segment at +166%, but it was outsold in Q4 by the Tesla Model X, which took 12th place in the last quarter.
The Mercedes-Benz GLS added 43% thanks to its facelift (and namechange), with +59% in Q4, while the G-Class continues to defy all odds (and reason) with a 58% gain for the year and a 77% increase in the last quarter. Italian newcomer Maserati Levante is off to a relatively slow start but took a 2% share of the segment in the last three months of the year. The über-SUV Bentley Bentayga has no intentions of ever reaching anything close to those number as exclusivity is its thing. Still, in Q4 almost 300 Europeans spent a few hundred grand on a new toy for their wives to go shopping or to go to football practice.
In 2017, VW Group will launch the third generations Touareg and Cayenne on the same platform as the Q7, while the aforementioned Discovery will reach showrooms early this year. We’ll have to wait until 2018 for the highly anticipated replacement to the legendary and therefore almost irreplacable Defender, but the brand has just revealed plans for a Range Rover Velar, which appears to be intended as a rival to the GLE Coupe and X6. Mercedes-Benz will update the G-Class to keep it fresh enough for its last stint to 2020 when the contract for its production by Magna in Austria expires. In the meantime, get ready for the Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet to prove everybody wrong who thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous than the G65AMG 6×6.
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