The Audi A3 sedan is a good-looking car: surprisingly well-proportioned for a compact sedan, more interesting than the “seen it before” hatchback, and nicely compact compared to its overlong and boring bigger brother, the A4. One of the better aspects of its design is the rear, and especially the aggressively squinty tail lights, which look much better than the boring lamps on the A4, or the weirdly frowning-looking ones on the A6. But the A3 sedan is not the only car that sports such aggressive lamps at the rear, to the benefit of the overall design.
Sales in the Premium Compact segment fell by a substantial 12 percent in the third quarter of 2016, a considerable deterioration in fortune compared to the first quarter of the year, when the segment grew by 2 percent. Still, the performance over the course of the first three quarters combined (4 percent fall in sales to 68,954 units) was better than than in either the Premium Mid-sized or Premium Large segments (fall in sales of more than 10 percent for both), and worse than only the Premium Limousine (3 percent rise in sales).
The premium compact car segment grows faster than the overall market in the first half of 2016 at +10% vs. +8,8% and especially compared to the mainstream compact car segment at +6%. The German brands increase their dominance of the segment with over 83% share, and are competing fiercer than ever to attract younger, mostly first-time luxury buyers so they can try and keep them faithful to their brand when they move up the ladder. The model-ranking leader Audi A3 loses 3% of its volume as the competition heats up, but BMW becomes the biggest brand ahead of Mercedes-Benz. The 1-series hatchback, 2-series MPV, Coupe and Convertible and the i3 electric car add up to a combined 145.000 sales, compared to 144.000 sales for the A-Class hatchback, B-Class MPV and CLA sedan and station wagon. Despite having the A3 hatchback, sedan and convertible at the top of the ranking, Audi is a distant third with “just” 104.500 sales in the first half.
Sales in the Premium Compact segment fell by a slight 2 percent in the second quarter, erasing the segment’s gains for the year so far. Just as in the first quarter of 2016, however, the performance of the segment has to be viewed alongside the other Premium segments, sales for all of which shrank so far in 2016, including double-digit falls for the Premium Mid-sized and Premium Large segments.
Sales of premium compact cars in Europe grew faster than the overall market in Q1 of 2016, at +10%. The long-standing leader of the segment, the Audi A3, stays firmly in control despite flat sales and therefore a diminished share. Bear in mind Audi sells all versions under the same name: three-door, five-door, sedan and convertible, while its main rivals use different names to differentiate the body types. At brand level, Mercedes-Benz remains the best seller of compact luxury cars with its four vehicles under three nameplates: the Mercedes-Benz A-Class adds 19% to its volume thanks to its facelift and moves past the also facelifted BMW 1-Series for the #2 spot. The 1-series has flat sales, but the Bavarian brand still is the fastest growing brand in the segment thanks to the 61% increase of the BMW 2-series Active/Gran Tourer, which beat the Mercedes-Benz fairly and squarely to become the best selling premium MPV.[Read more…]
Sales in the premium compact segment rose by 2% compared to 2014, a considerably lower growth rate than the 30% rate it experienced in 2015. However, this performance was better than seems at first. First, the growth rate last year was driven by introduction of the Audi A3 sedan and the new BMW 2-series, while so far this year there have not been any developments in the four-strong segment. As such, the growth rate pretty much equalled the 3% rate for the industry as a whole, a decent performance for a “stable” segment. Second, the premium compact was the only premium segment to grow in Q1 2016, with the other three segments shrinking between 10% and 20%. It would be interesting to see how consumers would have taken to the V40, had Volvo decided to introduce it in the US, though that probably won’t happen until the next generation debuts, possibly reverting back to its original sedan form.
“Worthy but bland”. “Same sausage, different sizes”. “Jacked-up Avant models”. Audi’s crossovers have been called many things by their detractors over the years, though it never prevented them from selling very well. Eventually, though, Audi got fed up and said “Enough!”, promising that going forward it would develop a distinct design language for its Q-series models. The Q7 was the first test, and it’s pretty much universally agreed-upon that it was a test that Audi failed. So it was with mixture of anticipation and fear that everyone waited for the new, “adventeruous” Q2 to be revealed. Finally, the curtain fell, leading many to proclaim: [Read more…]
After a stable 2014 the premium compact car segment continues its double digit growth in 2015, adding 100.000 units or 13% of its volume to reach a record 865.724 sales. The top-3 players from each of the German luxury brands all lose a single percent of their respective volumes, as Audi A3 is the best selling model for the third year in a row and for the 12th time in the past 13 years. However, for the second year in a row, it falls just short of breaking its 2006 record of almost 203.000 sales. Keep in mind, Audi sells its hatchback, sedan and convertible all under the same name, while Mercedes-Benz classifies its CLA sedan (and station wagon) as a separate model from its A-Class hatchback, while BMW names its coupe and convertible the 2-series and the hatchback 1-series. Even if we add all versions for each brand together, the A3 remains the segment leader. Audi doesn’t make an MPV to compete with the BMW 2-series Active Tourer or the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, which makes Mercedes-Benz the biggest brand in this segment, with over 261.000 compact cars (+7,4%), but BMW is quickly closing in, improving 54% last year to 243.600 cars.
Sales in the premium compact segment rose by 30% compared to 2014, a standout performance amongst all premium segments, most of which saw sales fall between 2014 and 2015. Such a high growth rate was possible thanks to just two models increasing their sales by over 60% compared to last year, which made a big difference in a segment that is comprised of only four models. Sales in 2015 came close to but did not breach 100,000 units, less than a fifth of what carmakers sell in the premium mid-sized segment in the US, and only around a ninth of what carmakers sell in this segment in Europe. [Read more…]
The Premium Compact segment continued growing in the third quarter of 2015, with sales up 15% compared to Q3 2014, although this rate of growth was slower than in the first part of the year, when they grew 59%. The main reason for this was that the Audi A3 sedan had been introduced in the US in the second half of 2014, which means that the incremental sales that variant brought are now “built in”. [Read more…]