After 3 years and one quarter of booming growth, the premium large SUV segment in Europe has hit a roadblock. Sales were down 6% in Q2, pulling down the year-to-date growth rate to just 2%, less than the overall market. A total of 150.235 large luxury SUVs were sold in the first half of 2017. The BMW X5 is on its way for a fourth consecutive year on top of the ranking, ever since the current generation was launched. The Audi Q7 jumps from 4th place in the first quarter to 2nd in the second quarter and also grabs that position in the first half ranking, outselling the Volvo XC90 (down 30% in Q2) and Range Rover Sport (down 13% in Q2). The XC90 has seen a similar drop in the US, where they blamed it on limited availability due to worldwide demand, especially for the T8 plug-in hybrid version, but the same seems to be happening in Europe now. With less than 1.000 monthly sales, China can’t be responsible for the limited availability in Europe and the US, so there must be another explanation. We’ll keep you updated as we find out more. [Read more…]
Stable sales for large luxury crossovers, slight growth for full-sized luxury crossovers.
Sales of Premium Large SUVs appear to have peaked, as first half 2017 figures are up just 1% over the same period last year, for a total of 296,538 sales. So far this year, the trend in the premium segment seems to be: the bigger the truck, the slower the sales growth. However, subdivided in Large and Full-sized SUVs, the former subsegment is down by 1% to 236,206 sales, while the really big trucks still improve by 11% to 60,332 sales. The segment has had a boost of fresh and updated models in recent years, but will take a breather in coming months. We’ve just had the launch of the new generation Land Rover Discovery to replace the LR4, but we’ll have to wait until next year for the arrival of the Lexus RX 7-seater, new generation BMW X5 and the long-awaited new Mercedes-Benz G-Class. In the full-sized subsegment, there will be more news this year, with the new generations of the Infiniti QX80 and the Lincoln Navigator arriving in showrooms in the second half, as well as an updated Cadillac Escalade.
The past year has seen an interesting development in the arena of exotic and ultra-luxurious cars – the emergence of smaller-engined versions of cars that were previously available only with super-high-output 12-cylinder options. First was the facelifted Ferrari FF, now called the GTC4 Lusso, which in addition to the all-wheel-drive V12 version became available as an “entry level” model with rear-wheel-drive, powered by a turbocharged V8 engine taken from the 488 GTB and California T. Then Bentley released the oft-rumored Bentayga powered by, the sacrilege, a V8 turbodiesel seemingly taken straight out of the Audi SQ7. Are they a sign of things to come, smart decisions by the brands from a marketing perspective, or foolish endeavors to chase short-term profits at the expense of the brands’ long-term allure?
Sales growth of premium large SUVs in Europe continues to outpace the overall market, although at a lower rate than in the previous years. In the first quarter of 2017, the segment grew 9% to almost 80.000 sales in a total market up 7,8%. Only one model managed to op 10.000 sales this quarter, the BMW X5 thanks to sales up 10%. That means the X5 consolidates its leadership as the #2 Volvo XC90 sees stable sales compared to last year. Unlike its smaller sibling XC60, the XC90 is unable to grab the top spot in its segment, although Volvo points out to supply issues as a result of high global demand for the model. Range Rover is one of the big winners of the segment this year, with its models the two fastest growing nameplates in the segment, and the Range Rover Sport jumps up to third place at the expense of the much fresher Audi Q7 and the regular Range Rover climbs to 6th place.
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.
The Bentayga Bentayga has gotten plenty of flack ever since it came out, and pretty deservedly in my opinion. First, there is the shape with its long front overhang, which largely determined by hard points inherited from its platform twin, the Audi Q7, and which lacks the gloriously long hood that gives the Mulsanne and even the Continental GT their recognizable look. But Bentley did itself no favors with the detailing either – the oft-maligned cock-eyed front, the gauche fake air outlets in the front fenders, or the overdrawn “power curve” over the rear wheels that was cribbed from the Continental GT and forced onto a slab-sided SUV surface. But my biggest disappointment was always the rear, which is the worst thing for a luxury car – anonymous. The blame here lies mostly with the rear lights, which on top of being rather bland also remind of those of a mainstream non-premium car…
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.
Sales in the Premium Large SUV segment rose by 8.7 percent in 2016 to 616,093, allowing the segment to retain a healthy margin ahead of the Premium Mid-sized SUV segment. The growth figure becomes an even-more-impressive 10.0 percent with the inclusion of the Tesla Model X, which is listed in the Alternative Power segment – impressive in this era of downsizing. The popularity of this segment is borne out in the sheer number of models offered by manufacturers: with a total of 25 models following the introduction of Maserati Levante and Bentley Bentayga, this segment is now one of the most populous. 2017 will see the introduction of the newest versions of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Porsche Cayenne, as well as the new Land Rover Discovery which should reintroduce the Discovery name in the US.
Sales of large premium SUVs in Europe are up 25% in the first three quarters of 2016, significantly faster than the overall market at +7,5%, and at double the rate of growth in the US, where this segment grows 13%. However, in Europe this segment takes only 1,9% of total market volume, compared to 3,4% in the United States. The podium remains unchanged from the first half of the year, with the BMW X5 still in the lead, ahead of the two newest entries in the top-10: Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7, unable to fight for the lead despite being much fresher than the X5. In fact, the Mercedes-Benz GLE also outsold them both in Q3 and moves into fourth place year-to-date, passing the Range Rover Sport. The entire top-4 of the segment is available with a plug-in hybrid option, which has helped popularity of the segment as a whole.
Not content to wait for spy photographers to snap the Cullinan prototype out in the wild, Rolls Royce decided to snap a few pictures itself and share it with the world. [Read more…]