Sales of premium midsized cars in Europe dip slightly in 2017 with a 2% decline to 694.000 sales, 4,5% of the overall car market, down from 4,7% in 2016. This is a much better performance than that of mainstream midsized cars which are down 13% but both continue to lose volume to crossovers. Segment leader Mercedes-Benz C-Class consolidates its leadership with sales up less than 1% while its two closest rivals show double digit declines. Keep in mind that the C-Class is available in 4 versions: sedan, station wagon, coupe and convertible, while Audi and BMW split up sales of their traditional sedan and wagon versions from the more stylish counterparts. When combining all versions (as displayed in the graph), Audi takes the segment lead from BMW with over 207.000 sales (up from 206.000) vs nearly 194.000 sales (down from 212.000). Audi is boosted by the new generation A5 coupe, convertible and Sportback, up 41% on the outgoing model, although this may cannibalize sales of the regular A4, down 10%. However, that is not enough for the A5 to outsell its rival BMW 4-series, also available as a coupe, convertible and 4-door Gran Coupe. In the fourth quarter the 4-Series outsold the A5 again after the tables had been turned in Q2 and Q3. These 3 German brands now control 83,3% of the segment. However, as one of our readers pointed out a few weeks ago, Audi’s volume comes mostly from the entry-level engine specifications
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
Best of the rest is Volvo again, although its S60/V60 suffers from a 15% decline as the new generation will arrive in showrooms in 2018. The Swedish players still hold almost a 2-to-1 lead over the next rival, the Alfa Romeo Giulia. In its first full year of sales, the Giulia finished with close to 25.000 sales, not bad for a model that’s only available as a sedan, but also not enough when keeping in mind the ambitious targets Alfa Romeo has set itself. Still, the Giulia comfortably outsells the Jaguar XE, down a harsh 22% (after an even worse -37% in the fourth quarter). This is the XE’s third year of sales and it faces cannibalization from the F-Pace crossover, but if the XE has already passed its peak, it’s way behind on its predecessor from a decade ago X-Type, which peaked at 38.500 sales in 2004 and is generally considered to be a failure. Of course, times were much different then and the segment was about 30% bigger too, so we can’t really compare the performances of these two directly. It doesn’t take away from the disappointing performance of the XE, which sold less than 1.000 units a month in the fourth quarter. The Volkswagen Arteon arrives and lands at #9, this model should be able to outperform its predecessor CC next year, judging from its Q4 performance. Another interesting newcomer here is the Kia Stinger, we don’t have very high expectations of the model in terms of sales, it just doesn’t have the right brand for that, but its qualities will work magic on lifting the Kia brand higher again.
In 2018 the C-Class and IS will be facelifted, and the big news for this year will be the next generations of the 3-Series and S60/V60 plus the arrival of the Tesla Model 3.
Also check out the premium midsized car segment in the US, where Audi is closing the gap with its main rivals and finally becoming a tier-1 luxury brand.
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