The midsized car segment in Europe has been in a deep crisis for over a decade, but the bottom of the steep slope appears to be in sight. After total segment sales of premium and non-premium models had dropped from a high of over 2.7 million vehicles in 2001 to less than 1.2 million in 2013, the decline seems to have stabilized in 2014 with sales year to date down less than 0,2% on last year.
The decline is not evenly shared among premium and non-premium models. In fact, non-premium models outsold their premium rivals by at least a 2-to-1 ratio until the year 2000, but especially the German Big 3 have made great inroads ever since. As a result of this strong performance, in 2013 for the first time ever, premium midsized cars outsold their non-premium rivals in Europe and they’re taking an even greater lead in 2014.
BMW is the big winner of the segment, as the 3-series increased its share of the segment from 11,7% ten years ago to 19,5% this year (including the 4-series). Audi and Volkswagen shares also grew by 5 percentage points or more with their A4, A5 and Passat (including CC), followed by Volvo thanks to the success of the S60 and V60, Skoda’s Superb and Mercedes-Benz with the C-Class. Besides VW and Skoda, the only other non-premium automaker to increase its segment share is Hyundai-Kia, although the i40 and Optima remain niche players with a combined share of 2,6%, or less than 2.500 units per month.
All other mainstream brands have either lost more than half of their volume in the segment, abandoned the segment or have disappeared from the market altogether. [Read more…]