The premium large car segment in Europe has fallen into a double digit decline in the first quarter of 2019, with sales down 13% to just over 100.000 units. Only four of the 14 models in the class sell more than they did in the same period of 2018, and only one in the top-4. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class holds its top position with sales down 11% which means it increases its share of the segment to 28,9%. Despite a take rate of 15,5% for the plug-in hybrid version, its nearest rival BMW 5-series loses 19% and is just 120 sales ahead of the #3 Audi A6. The latter has just been renewed and delivers 12% more vehicles than in Q1 of last year. The A6 adds over 5 percentage points of share of the segment, which means these three models now account for 76% of all sales in this class. At brand level, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi control 83,4%, up from 77,9% last year. The A6 clearly has a shot at the #2 spot for this year, but is already too far behind the E-Class to reclaim the segment title it last held in 2015. There’s only one caveat to that remark: the E-Class is also available in Coupe and Convertible versions, and sales of those are not split out. Unfortunately we can’t directly compare sales figures of only the sedan and station wagon versions, but the E-Class isn’t as dominant as it seems from these numbers. The Volvo S90/V90 takes a hard hit because of cannibalization from the new V60, which looks very similar to the V90 but is quite a bit more affordable. Sales of the Swedish models are down by 39%, accounting for half of the total segment’s decline so far in 2019 and there’s now a significant gap to the top-3.
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.
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