After looking at the January 2019 brand sales ranking, let’s take a closer look at which models were moving up the charts. As happened last in July 2018, Volkswagen takes the top two positions with the Golf (down 22,8%) and the Polo (up 9,1%), with the Renault Clio down to third place after three consecutive months (and the full year 2018) in second place. The Clio is down 8,9% as the next generation will arrive in showrooms this year. In fourth place we find the Toyota Yaris, equaling its personal best position also scored in September 2018. Since its launch in 2013, the current generation Yaris has consistently improved its sales every year, an impressive performance even though it’s still below the peak of the nameplate’s sales in 2007. The Volkswagen Tiguan is in fifth place, down 13,1% with the Ford Focus in sixth place for the second consecutive month, thanks to the new generation. The Fiat Panda makes a surprise return to the top-8 thanks to sales up 21,5% with all of the growth coming from its home market Italy which accounted for 81% of Panda sales in January. That leaves the Peugeot 208 down into 9th place, just ahead of its stablemate Citroën C3.
After ending on a down note in the last quarter of 2018, European car sales continue their negative trend in January 2019. Registrations of new passenger cars were down 3,9% to nearly 1,23 million sales, still above 2017 levels. Most of the decline can still be attributed to the after effects of the introduction of new fuel efficiency and emissions testing standard called WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Test Procedure) in September. Demand for new cars fell across almost the entire European Union, including the five major markets. Spain and Italy posted the strongest declines (down 8% and 7,5% respectively), while the United Kingdom was surprisingly stable at ‐1,6%. Germany (‐1,4%) and France (‐1,1%) also did better than average. Best performing market was Lithuania (+49%), followed by Romania (+18,8%) and Hungary (+9,2%). The only other markets to improve on 2018 were Portugal (+8,3%), Denmark (+7%), Greece (+3,7%) and Latvia (+0,7%). The biggest declines were seen in Iceland (-47,9% to just 846 registrations), Netherlands (-18,8%) and Czech Republic (-17%).
Sales of premium large SUVs in Europe declined in 2018 for the second year in a row, after three consecutive years of explosive growth during which 100.000 annual sales were added. In the last two years, the segment has lost 33.000 sales again as volume is back to 255.000 sales, down 6% on 2017. The entire top-5 is down for the year and only 4 out of the 18 remaining players in this class improve their volume this year. The BMW X5 holds on to the segment lead by the skin of its teeth, less than 250 sales ahead of the Volvo XC90. For the X5, this is its fifth consecutive year on top of the ranking, and for the XC90 it would have been its first win ever, if only it could have found those 250 extra buyers. The X5 is being replaced in 2019, which means it’s likely to storm back ahead again, and this was the Volvo’s only chance for a while. The Mercedes-Benz GLE in third place will also be renewed in 2019 and may threaten the X5 and XC90 to climb either one or two spots once it reaches full availability. The last time the GLE (or M-Class) finished on top of its class was in 2013. The Range Rover Sport climbs one spot to #4 with sales down just 5% which allows it to move past the Audi Q7, down to places into 5th as the WLTP affected sales of some of its versions, and the introduction of the Q8 didn’t help either. Its sibling model Volkswagen Touareg did better with an increase of 15% thanks to the new, third generation. Still, sales are far below the peak of the namplate’s first generation in 2004 and 2005 when it sold over 40.000 copies in Europe.
Sales of midsized premium SUVs in Europe continue to grow in 2018, but at a lower rate than before. After four consecutive years of double digit growth, of which the last three years showed at least 20% growth, the segment was up “only” 5% in 2018. This still means that for the first time ever, over half a million luxury midsized crossovers were sold in Europe. And after claiming the segment lead last year, the Mercedes-Benz GLC consolidates its lead with a 13% gain to over 125.000 sales, almost one in every four sales in this segment. Please note that these figures include sales of the GLC Coupe, but even without those the GLC would easily top the ranking. Just imagine the sales volume (and turnover) Mercedes-Benz has missed by completely failing with the design of its predecessor GLK, which peaked at just 33.000 sales and 15% of the segment in 2012. The Volvo XC60 is down 19% in the first full year of sales for the new generation, and this is mostly due to the strong finish of the previous generation, which even continued to be sold alongside the new model in its home market Sweden. Despite sales back to its 2016 level but its market share thawed to the lowest in at least 7 years, the XC60 still holds on to its #2 spot ahead of the Audi Q5, which sees stable sales in 2018, as it also did in 2017. The Q5 has been around 70.000 annual sales for three years now, even during the changeover to the next generation and last year’s introduction of the WLTP fuel efficiency testing procedures, which meant some versions of the Q5 (and many other models) could no longer be sold after September 1st, 2018.
After discussing overall worldwide car sales in 2018, let’s zoom in on the most booming segment of all: that of EVs. Global sales of battery electric cars increased 73% in 2018 to 1.26 million units, after already jumping 86% the year before. That means worldwide sales of EVs jumped more than threefold in just two years time. Of course these are all new records as the market for electric cars is still in its infancy and has plenty of room to grow in coming years. The major factors pushing up EV sales in 2018 were demand from China (partially thanks to government incentives), the launch of the Tesla Model 3 and the diesel crisis in Europe which helped consumers become aware of the available alternative powertrain technologies and the benefits of driving electric. China was by far the largest market for electric cars, with 61% of worldwide sales registered in this market, followed by the USA with 16.6% and then Norway with 3.6%, which is also the country with – by far – the highest penetration of EVs worldwide. At 31.2%, battery electric cars represented almost 1 in every 3 sales in Norway. Including plug-in hybrids, that figure would even increase to nearly 1 in every 2 sales.
In 2018, worldwide sales of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles decreased for the first time since 2009, as carmakers sold 0.5% fewer vehicles, according to JATO Dynamics figures, based on their data of 54 top markets. Slightly over 400.000 fewer vehicle sales compared to 2017 make for a new total of 86.01 million global car sales. Passenger car and pick up sales were down 0.6% to 81.84 million and LCV sales were up 2.5 to 4.17 million vehicles. Of the major markets double digit growth was recorded by Thailand (+20%), Brazil (+14%) and Russia (+13%), the latter now a larger market than South Korea (+1,4%), while sales declined by double digits in Turkey (-35%) and Argentina (-10%) as these two countries battled economic downturns. But small declines in Europe, United States, and most significantly China had a great impact on global car sales. India on the other hand set a fourth consecutive annual sales record and finally surpassed Germany to become the world’s fourth largest car market. The fastest growing segment worldwide was that of EVs, which increased by more than 73% to over 1.2 million sales.
For readers with an interest in China’s New Energy Vehicle market, when the manufacturer SAIC gets mentioned, the company’s Roewe brand is probably the first brand that comes to mind.
There is good reason for this. Last year, during 2018, of the four SAIC models that made the list of China’s Top Twenty NEV sellers, three of the four carried the Roewe badge.
The exception was the Baojun E100, a micro two-seater made by SAIC’s joint venture (JV) with GM and Wuling. SAIC is the majority share holder, owning just over 50 percent of the company.
The four best selling “SAIC” models are listed and pictured below:
- the Roewe eRX5 PHEV SUV,
- the Roewe ei5 EV station wagon,
- the Baojun E100 two door micro (a product of the SAIC-GM-Wuling Joint Venture), and
- SAIC Roewe ei6 PHEV sedan.
The Baojun E100 gets an Upgrade (Baojun E200 aka the New Baojun E100).
During the second half of 2018, the SAIC-GM-Wuling JV began selling an upgraded version of the Baojun e100, which is described in a General Motors June 2018 press release here as the New Baojun E100. As noted in the release the primary aspect of the upgrade is the longer driving distance, 200 km, which is about 30% more than the previous 155 km. range.
According to another GM China news reference here, a “new” model, was launched in September of 2018. Referred to as the Baojun E200, the “new” model appears to be the same model as the New Baojun E100 that was earlier highlighted in the June 2018 press release, despite the fact that the Baojun E200 reportedly has a slightly higher driving range of 210 km. (NEDC). The lack of consistent terminology regarding model names certainly can be confusing, even for this patient blogger. What is now clear, after cross-checking multiples sources, and the details of specs, is that Baojun’s micro two-seater vehicle, that has a reported driving range of 210 km (NEDC) – – whether its called the E200 – – or the New E100; is indeed the same model. Because the model is still referred to by most sources as simply the E100, I’ve conformed to that label (E100), for almost all sections of this blog. The exception is the section or content related to carbon-credits, where I’ve sometimes used E200, because the Baojun E200 has a longer range (210 km) which matters significantly when calculating carbon credits. To make matters even more challenging, Zotye has its own e200 model, which is not to be confused with the Baojun e200. Good. Clear as mud 😉
So which model is the hottest?
Although all SAIC’s four models pictured above sold relatively well last year, only one – – the Baojun E100 – – experienced a surge in sales during the last quarter of 2018. During the last three months of 2018, nearly twice as many E100s sold as compared to SAIC’s other best sellers.
In the micro two-seater car segment, only one other model – – the Zotye e200 – – made the list of Top 20 Best Sellers in the NEV category. Both micros are similar in size and shape, as seen in side by side photo below:
Although the Zotye E200 outsold Baojun’s E100 during the third quarter of last year, in the fourth quarter, Baojun’s two seater began to clearly overtake its Zotye competitor by a wide margin as seen in the graph below:
While we don’t know exactly what contributed to the Baojun E100’s dominance during the fourth quarter of 2018, a number of factors or developments are worthy of consideration:
- Prior to mid-2018, the geographic market for the Baojun E100 was limited to Guanxi province, a southern province bordering Vietnam. However, in June-July of last year, Baojun began expanding the E100’s market by selling the two-seater in the Northern province of Shandong, in the area of Qingdao.
- The map on the left below shows a zoomed out view of Guangxi and Shandong (see red rectangles), as well as the location of Shandong’s Qingdao city. The map on the right shows a zoomed in view of Qingdao – – which as a matter of interest – – includes a nearby Zotye “New Energy Dealership.”
- In all likelihood, numerous factors led to Baojun’s decision to sell its E100 in the Qingdao region. It seems plausible that the opportunity to compete directly with Zotye’s E200 was at least one such reason.
Baojun’s entry into the Qingdao market during the second half of 2018, most likely contributed to the E100’s success during the Oct.-Dec. period (see graph above), when Baojun’s E100 decisively began to outsell Zotye’s E200.
Although the graph pertains to national level sales, we know that prior to the third quarter of 2018 the E100’s market geography was limited to Guanxi province in south China. Given that Baojun’s E100 entry into the Qingdao market did not begin until June-July, and considering that it normally takes a few months before sales volume for a successful product begins to ramp up in a new market- – it seems reasonable to suggest that the Baojun E100’s expansion into Qingdao likely contributed to the large rise in sales volume during the fourth quarter of 2018.
Baojun as a brand is known historically for its success outside of China’s largest cities; in other words in China’s more rural areas or in smaller towns and cities. Qingdao is one example of a second tier city. These market geographies, because of their lower rates of car ownership, and their associated higher rates of sales growth, are attractive to not just Baojun or Zotye looking to expand their business, but to virtually all the major OEMs, whether domestic (like SAIC and Geely) or international OEMs such as GM, Ford, or VW. As a case in point, Ford, together with its joint venture partner JMC (Jiangling Motor Co.), is expected to launch a new SUV (the Territory), into the Qingdao market during early 2019, as noted in the article here.
GM already has an established presence or foothold in China’s market for micro EVs, because of the earlier mentioned SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture; which owns and produces the Baojun brand.
Small NEVs in China and rapid growth. Why?
China’s New Energy Vehicle/NEV market grew by 62 percent year-on-year (2018 vs. 2017), with 1.25 million NEVs sold during 2018. As noted in a China Daily article here, 2019 sales are expected to reach 1.6 million. Within the NEV segment, small vehicles, meaning micros and compacts, are selling best. China’s government refers to these small vehicles as “A00” or “A0” type cars. Within this context “micro” is synonymous with A00, while the slightly bigger, but yet still small “compact”, is roughly synonymous with A0.
In general, its hard for OEM’s to make money selling small, inexpensive vehicles, with very thin profit margins. Its even harder with electric vehicles, which is why governments subsidize them. When the occasional or rare scandal occurs (i.e. a subsidy recipient/OEM committing fraud to improperly receive subsidies) as happened in a few limited cases in China in recent years, this can further delay government subsidy payouts to all OEMs – – including the vast majority which are innocent of any wrong doing. When government subsidies are late, or unreliable, OEMs feel the squeeze, in terms of their corporate balance sheets, cash flow, or profits.
So how is it possible, that despite all of the challenges mentioned above, China’s market for NEVs – – and especially small pure EVs (vehicles powered by batteries only) – – has been experiencing rapid growth during recent years and months?
Much of the growth is a result of the both “carrot and stick” approach that China’s government is using to promote the transformation of China’s automotive market and industry, away from its current and historical reliance on traditional/conventional cars (Internal Combustion Engines/ICEs) and towards much greater reliance on EVs and hybrids (New Energy Vehicles). But that transformation is expensive, and China’s government would like to shift that expense away from public coffers, and towards the OEMs.
This year 2019, marks an expected transition, meaning that later this year China’s long anticipated carbon-credit trading system for the automotive sector is due to begin. This will have major implications not only for companies like SAIC, GM, Baojun, Zotye etc. – – but for all manufacturers in terms of their production, and more specifically, the mix of their output regarding ICEs and NEVs produced. In short, manufacturers will have three choices:
a) produce more NEVs to meet quotas, that are specific to each manufacturer, as determined by the new regulations,
b) don’t meet the quotas but comply with the policy by purchasing carbon-credits from other NEV producers (i.e. competitors) whom have earned surplus carbon credits,
c) face stiff and costly fines and penalties for doing neither a) nor b) above.
Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance team has created an innovative EV Exposure Index to reflect the “readiness” of OEMs for EVs. As seen below, the Chinese OEMs BYD and BAIC score high or “most ready”, because of their high production rates of NEVs. On the other end of the spectrum, manufacturers with low ratings include Toyota, Fiat-Chrysler, Honda, and Subaru. As seen in the graphic below, GM and Ford have readiness index scores that are a bit higher, however still low, relative to NEV industry leaders.
GM’s partnership with SAIC and Wuling, via their JV, is interesting to examine, from the perspective of – – “What’s in it for GM?” In a very insightful 2017 commentary article here (Thriving Baojun bodes well for GM’s future in China) the Managing Editor of China Automotive News, Yang Jian, addresses this question, and highlights some important strategic considerations. Some excerpts from Jian’s 2017 commentary appear below:
Baojun is successful because it has never lost its focus on entry-level car buyers. The brand targets customers in rural areas and small cities in China where the main competition is domestic Chinese brands.
it (Baojun) has been given a new goal: Help GM expand into China’s EV market to meet Beijing’s production quotas. In 2019, the government will introduce a California-style carbon credit trading program to goad automakers to ramp up output of EVs and help curb emissions and pollution.
In response, Volkswagen and Ford each have formed new joint ventures with Chinese EV makers to build small, affordable EVs. GM doesn’t have to do this, because Baojun has access to an entry-level market that Ford and VW have never tapped.
To be sure, Baojun doesn’t boast the profit margins of Buick or Cadillac (two other important GM brands in China). Starting prices are below 70,000 yuan ($10,600), but manufacturing costs are modest, too, so Baojun is a money maker.
Readers should keep in mind that the excerpts above are from a December 2017 article, when Baojun’s business was thriving. As noted in a much more recent February 2019 article here, business for GM’s two joint ventures in China, SAIC-GM, and SAIC-GM-Wuling have taken a downturn, with sales declining significantly during 2018.
Back in November of 2017, GM’s China Chief, Matt Tsien, quoted in a Reuters article here, expressed his confidence, in GM’s ability, and the abilities of its JV partners to meet China’s NEV quotas, which begin this year. The accompanying photo to the Reuters article showing Baojun’s E100 assembly line, represents a good example of the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
So given much of what’s been presented above, I thought it would be interesting to start taking a look at OEM’s and their ability to generate carbon credits, using the Baojun E100 as an example. Although we won’t be able to get a solid understanding of the more important question – – (i.e. “How much financial value are the carbon-credits going to be worth?”) – – it still seems timely, given the expectation that China’s carbon-credit trading system will be launched sometime this year, to begin looking more closely at OEMs, and their ability to generate carbon-credits.
For readers that are interested in the details of how carbon-credits are calculated, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has produced an excellent Policy Update (January 2018) titled China’s New Energy Vehicle Mandate Policy (Final Rule), which is the source I used for estimating carbon credits within this blog.
How Many Carbon-credits are earned for producing one little Baojun micro two-seater?
Below is a table that approximates the carbon-credits that the SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture will earn, for the production of a Baojun E200 vehicle. As a reminder, readers might wish to revisit the earlier section above (see “The Baojun E100 gets an Upgrade” for an explanation of Baojun model numbers, E100 vs. E200 etc.).
Carbon credits for pure EVs are capped at six credits; irrespective of Base Score and Adjustment factor. Six credits is the maximum number of credits that any pure EV can earn. The ICCT Policy Update includes helpful graphics that illustrate how the adjustment factor is determined, depending on a given vehicle model, and its specs., in terms of energy consumption, and the mass or weight of the vehicle. I’ve annotated the original ICCT graphic below, by inserting the Baojun E200 into the picture:
In addition to the micro two-seater E200, SAIC will be earning carbon-credits from its other NEV models. I thought it would be interesting to look at how many carbon credits the various SAIC NEV models (i.e. 2018 best sellers) would generate, on a per unit basis, which is shown in the table below.
It is important to note that there is a separate and distinct method for calculating carbon credits for PHEVs – – and that method is different than the method used for pure EVs.
For PHEVs the associated carbon-credit is either two or one, depending on whether an adjustment factor is applied. As seen in the graphic below, PHEVs with certain specs. are adjusted
downwards/lower with regards to their carbon credit value, by applying a multiplier of 0.5 to their base value of 2. For such cases, the result is a carbon credit score of 1.
This method applies both for:
- PHEVs that have an electric range of 80 km. or higher, and
- PHEVs with an electric range of less than 80 km.
For PHEVs with electric ranges above 80 km. – – energy consumption (kwH/100 km.) is used together with curb mass (kg.) to determine the adjustment factor. Alternatively, for PHEVs with electric ranges below 80 km., fuel consumption, as measured by L/100 km., is used. These methodology specifics are more clearly illustrated in the graphic below. The SAIC Roewe eRX5 is used as an example in the bottom most graph. The eRX5 SUV has a carbon credit score of 2, due to its electric range of < 80 km., its fuel consumption rating of 1.6 L/100 km, and its curb mass of 1730 kg.
The table below shows all four of SAIC’s 2018 best selling NEVs, and their estimated carbon credits, using the appropriate method either for pure EVs, or for PHEVs:
It’s clear from the table above that SAIC’s pure EV models generate more carbon-credits, on a per unit basis, compared to PHEVs. This reflects Chinese government policy, which favors pure EVs. If we look at the first two models in the table above, we see that selling one ei5 EV wagon, generates over five credits, more than twice the credits generated from selling one ei6 PHEV sedan.
The value of the credits won’t be known for some time, given that the NEV carbon trading system is yet to be launched. Even after it has been launched, it will likely take many months before an established trading range and market value for a carbon credit gets established.
Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to expect that the value of future traded carbon-credits will have at least some impact on the production, marketing, and selling behavior of automotive OEMs that will have to comply with the new policy and regulations. As suggested later in this blog, there might already be evidence that this is happening, with Baojun’s ramp up in sales, of the Baojun E200.
Profit margins and market demand (sales volume during recent months), are likely the most important variables that will determine future marketing and sales efforts for any given model. At the model level, profit margins are unknown, however sales volume data are available, and during the last quarter of 2018, 7,243 ei6 PHEV sedan were sold, while slightly fewer ei5 EV wagons (6,781) were sold. The sedan is priced somewhat higher than the wagon, and so for that reason alone we might expect profit margins to be higher. However, as illustrated in the first two rows of the table above, more than twice as many carbon credits are generated by producing the pure EV wagon, relative to the PHEV sedan.
Although I’ve used SAIC within this blog as a convenient means for exploring carbon-credits, ultimately, I’m interested in the bigger questions that will effect the industry and the environment – – such as:
- How will China’s expected 2019 NEV carbon-credit trading system impact OEM business decisions, about what types of cars to produce, in what quantities, with what profit margins?
- How valuable, influential – – or not – – will carbon-credits be – – in terms of their 2019-2020 (and beyond) impact on automotive OEM business decisions?
- More specifically, how will carbon credits impact corporate balance sheets and income statements, in terms of revenues generated, or if the credits get accumulated for a period of time (and not sold, or traded in the carbon market) does the value of those accumulated and held credits impact the value of the business or the corporate entity?
- To what extent will China’s policy push for NEV related carbon-credits – – in the long run, be a success or failure? After years or decades of implementation, how will the policies be viewed – – as significant or major contributors to cleaner air, less carbon in the atmosphere, a healthier China, a healthier world, and a changed automotive industry at national and global levels – – or not? Obviously, we’ll have to be patient, it will take years or decades – – before those questions begin to get answered.
In the short run, over the course of this year, we might more realistically point our efforts towards obtaining a better understanding of more concrete and near-term matters. For example, matters related to specific OEM businesses, or an industry sector, such as China’s automotive domestic OEMs. Unfortunately I’m not an accountant, nor do I have much experience analyzing balance sheets or income statements within this context of China’s changing automotive industry; so if there are a few accountants that might be reading this blog “out there”, or really any readers that might be able to shed light on these questions – – please don’t hesitate to use the comments section below, to shed new light on the questions raised above.
In the meantime I could not help but notice, that just a few days ago Jose Pontes, via his blog, EV blogspot, has shared new sales volume data for China’s January 2019, NEV best sellers. Thank you Jose! As acknowledged in the blog and comments, there are numerous challenges regarding data quality and data reliability, so users of this data are wise to take note. With that disclaimer, I do think it’s interesting that according to this source, January sales of the Baojun E100, are reported to be a whopping 8,312 units/cars. If confirmed, this would indeed make for a dramatic rise from the 4,692 units (up 77%) reportedly sold in December 2018. Sales volume for the last four months is shown in the graph below:
With the exception of a slight dip in December, Baojun’s micro, which perhaps should be renamed as the “mighty micro”, or something more fitting, appears to be selling well.
As mentioned earlier, Yang Jian, the managing editor of Automotive News China, noted more than a year ago, back in December of 2017, that Baojun has been given a new goal:
- Help GM expand into China’s EV market to meet Beijing’s production quotas. … (related to) a carbon credit trading program to goad automakers to ramp up output of EVs and help curb emissions and pollution.
That mission, seems to be right on track, as visualized in the graph above. More E100’s are not only being produced, but they also appear to be selling.
It will be interesting to see whether the Baojun E100 sales volume continues to rise, during the coming months.
From this blogger’s perspective, it will be even more interesting to witness the launching of China’s carbon-credit NEV trading system, and subsequently as this year progresses – – how the price of a credit evolves over time.
Even before that price gets established, there seems to be mounting evidence, that China’s policy is already beginning to have at least some of the impact – – that it was designed to have.
For a complete list of sources and references used in this article; click here.
Full disclosure: I do not own any shares in SAIC, or any other company mentioned in this blog.
After two years of growth, sales of limousines in Europe are back down again, by 6% to nearly 43.500 sales, or 0,3% of the overall market. The dominant segment leader Mercedes-Benz S-Class rebounds after three straight years of lost share to return to above 33% share with over 14.000 sales. This is still a long way from the nearly 43% share the model held in 2014 and 2015 but nonetheless a strong performance between rivals that are newer and fresher in a segment where innovation and product excellence are key. The recent updates of the S-Class have helped as the interior is now up-to-date again, but the changes in exterior design have been limited to prevent owners of the pre-facelift version from feeling like they’re being driven in an “ old” car. One sidenote we always need to make here is that S-Class sales include the Coupe and Convertible versions, which the others don’t offer for their limousines.
After a double digit gain in 2017, the premium large car segment in Europe saw its sales decline by 2% in 2018, but manages to stay above 400.000 sales for the second consecutive year and still holds 2,7% of the overall car market. In the top-3, only the BMW 5-series managed to improve its share, and only by the thinnest of margins. This doesn’t necessarily mean the German domination of this segment is under threat, because the losses of their volume sedans (and station wagons) were partially offset by increased sales of their niche models in this segment. While the top-3 models see their combined share thaw from 75% in 2017 to 71,8%, the share of the German 3 brands is stable at 78,9%. The class leader Mercedes-Benz E-Class lost 8% of its sales in 2018 and drops back below 30% share of the segment. The 5-Series is less than 10.000 sales behind thanks to a 1% decline in sales, while the Audi A6 loses ground quickly with a 10% decline as 2018 was a changeover year to the new generation A6.
The midsized premium car segment in Europe shrinks for the second consecutive year in 2019, and does so by 16% to fewer than 600.000 sales or 3,8% of the overall market. That is a comparable trend to the non-luxury midsized segment, which is down 17% for the year. All top-5 players lose sales volume by 15% or more, with just the segment leader doing less terrible than the average of the class. That means the Mercedes-Benz C-Class consolidates its top spot and now has a 25,9% share, while the Audi A4 falls below 20% share. The A4 was hit especially hard in the last four months of the year, after the WLTP fuel efficiency testing standards kicked in and the brand had to stop sales of a number of popular versions of the A4, among others. Until August, A4 sales were stable on 2017, but from September onwards, the model’s average monthly sales dropped to just 30% of the average in the eight months before. In those last four months, the A4 lost almost 30.000 sales on the year before, while the C-Class lost 5.000 sales in the same period and the BMW 3-series lost 7.000 sales. With a new 3-Series in showrooms this year and Audi’s continued struggles to get the A4 tested under the new rules, there’s a significant chance of a different podium in 2019.