Sales in the Premium Mid-sized segment fell by 2.1% in the first quarter of 2017, which is better than the overall market. It’s also an improvement from the loss of 15.3% percent in 2016, and much better than the -19.2% of the mainstream midsized car segment. US dealers delivered a total of 108,281 premium midsized models, which is barely more than the almost 101,500 premium midsized crossovers they sold in the same period (an increase of 12.5%). If this trend continues, the crossover segment will soon be larger than the car segment. 8 of the 16 remaining models in the segment showed double digit declines, while just 2 showed double digit increases and another 2 were all-new. One sidenote to the ranking: the Mercedes-Benz C-class is the only model in the segment for which sales of the coupe and convertible are included with those of the sedan/station wagon, as all others have distinctive names for their sexier models: 3-Series/4-Series, A4/A5, Q50/Q60, IS/RC. That’s why we’ve decided to give you 2 rankings this time: the blue graph with the split figures and the green graph with the combined figures. As you can see, that makes the difference between having a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW on top.
Sales of premium midsized cars in Europe increased slightly faster than the overall market in 2016, at +7%. This is also significantly better than the growth of the mainstream midsized segment, which saw virtually stable sales. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class manages to hold on to the segment lead despite improving just 2% while a surging Audi A4 adds almost a third to its volume thanks to the new generation. However, keep in mind that the C-Class figures include sales of the Coupe and Convertible version as well, so in pure sedan and station wagon deliveries, the A4 is likely to be ahead. The BMW 3-series also has stable volume and is knocked down to the bottom spot of the podium, even though it surprisingly outsold the much fresher A4 in the last quarter. If we combine brand sales of the German Big 3, we see that BMW is the segment leader with 212.544 sales of its 3-Series and 4-Series, just ahead of Audi with its A4 and A5 at 206.341, while Mercedes-Benz is a distant third, as it misses a 4-door coupe version to compete with the 4-Series Gran Coupe and A5 Sportback.
The premium midsized car segment improves 7% in the first three quarters of 2016, almost in line with the overall market at +7,5%, and better than the mainstream midsized car segment at +5%. As in most premium car segments, the German brands dominate, with almost 86% of cars sold in this class having a German badge, but at least that figure is falling (last year it was over 87%) thanks to increased competition from Jaguar and Alfa Romeo, even if the latter is still gearing up. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is stable on last year, which means it loses share of the segment, but it holds on to the lead of the segment, outselling its closest rival the redesigned Audi A4 by 3.000 units in Q3. The BMW 3-Series is left behind in a distant third place, even though it grows 3% on last year. Keeping in mind the C-Class doesn’t split sales of its coupe and convertible models the way its rivals do with the A5 and 4-Series, it’s safe to conclude the A4 is the leader when it comes to sedan and station wagon sales.
Sales of premium midsized cars improve 8% in the first half of 2016, almost in line with the overall market at +8,8%, thanks to a strong second quarter when sales advanced 12,6%. The German brands equally dominate this segment as they do with the compact segment, as over 85% of cars sold in this class has a German badge, but at least that figure is falling (last year it was almost 88%) thanks to increased competition from brands like Jaguar and Alfa Romeo. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class holds on to its lead in the first half, despite being outsold by the new generation Audi A4 in Q2. What’s more, the figures for the C-Class include those of the Coupe and Convertible versions of the model, while Audi and BMW have decided to differentiate the names of their sporty offerings. As a result, BMW is actually the biggest seller in this segment, with over 113.000 sales of its 3-series sedan, Touring station wagon and GT hatchback and its 4-series coupe, convertible and GC 4-door coupe, vs. 110.000 sales for Audi with its A4 sedan and Avant station wagon of the new generation and the A5 coupe, convertible and Sportsback 4-door coupe still of the previous generation. But again, in Q2 Audi was the big winner, and that will only increase with full availability of the A4 Avant and the introduction of the new generation A5 in the second half of the year.
The premium midsized car segment continues to grow steadily in Q1 of 2016, but slower than the overall market, at +3%. That’s a big difference with the US, where the segment has shrunk a worrying 20% this quarter. The ranking is pretty stable, with no changes in the top-4, even though last year’s leader, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the biggest loser of the top-8, at -10%. Even the relatively old BMW 3-series manages to grow sales, while the freshly renewed Audi A4 is the biggest gainer of the top players at +12%, which should increase further as the year progresses, and I see the A4 threatening the C-Class for segment leadership by the end of the year. The only two times the nameplate has led the segment this millennium were 2005 and 2008, but this year and next are the only shot it has, as BMW is expected to launch the new generation 3-series at the end of 2017.[Read more…]
The premium midsized car segment grows slower than the overall market at 6% to 662.738 vehicles in 2015, which is the best score since 2011 but a long way from the 1 million sales in 2002. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has scored its second victory of the segment after leading the segment in 2011 by a margin of less than 10.000 units above the #3. This time, the former “Baby-Benz” leads the BMW 3-series by 30.000 sales and the soon-to-be-replaced Audi A4 by almost 50.000 sales. And in 2015 year we can actually compare these 3 models directly, as this year the C-Class Coupe will be launched and its sales will be combined with those of the sedan and the station wagon, while BMW and Audi have separated their coupe versions into stand-alone models with the 4-series and A5.
The premium midsized car segment is up 8% in the first three quarters of 2015, boosted by updated models and a new entrant to the segment. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been the best selling premium midsized car all year and isn’t likely to hand over that title by the end of the year. In fact, it has only strengthened its lead over the BMW 3-series, which was outsold by the Audi A4 in Q3, even though the Audi was in the middle of a model changeover to the new generation. The gap between the two is about 6.600 units, so I don’t think the A4 can close that gap in the next three months. But for 2016, the 3-series is in serious trouble.
The Premium Mid-sized segment grew by a healthy 10% year-on-year, a better performance than all the Premium segments combined (3%) or the market as a whole (4%). The growth is driven not just by the good performance of the new entrants into the segment (Mercedes-Benz C class, Lexus RC, Acura TLX), but also by the growth in sales of the evergreen BMW 3/4 series. In fact, this may well be one of the “freshest” from among the established segments, with only the aging Audi A4/A5 and Volvo 60 series being more than 4 years old. Such a healthy growth rate widens the lead the Premium Mid-sized segment has over the Premium Large segment, outselling the larger cars by more than 3-to-2, and that lead is only likely to increase when the new A4 enters the market.
Sales of premium midsized cars are up 6% in the first half of 2015, which is slower than the 8% growth of the overall market, and much slower than the mainstream midsized segment. Like in Q1, the new generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class controls the segment with sales up 45% compared to the outgoing model last year. BMW loses ground, with the 3-series down 21% and the 4-series no longer able to make up for that loss, despite that model’s 60% growth. In third place, the Audi A4 is surprisingly stable, especially considering its successor has already been revealed. Perhaps the fact that it looks exactly the same as the outgoing model helps buyers convince to snatch a great deal on the old one. It now comes fully loaded and with a nice discount on top, while 90% of the population won’t notice the difference between the old and the new model. [Read more…]
While the mainstream midsized car segment has just returned to positive territory, the midsized premium segment maintains its upward curve and even accelerates its growth, from 5% in 2014 to 7% in Q1 of this year.
This growth can be fully attributed to the all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which increases by 45% to take the top spot of the segment for the first time since 2011. The C-Class now holds a 27,5% share of the segment, which is still less dominant than its direct competitor, the BMW 3-series, in Q1 of last year, when that model held over 30% share.
The 3-series is down a rough 21%, and that’s not only because the coupe and convertible models have been renamed BMW 4-series, because combined 3-series and 4-series sales are still down on the first quarter of last year. The increased competition from Mercedes-Benz seems a more likely explanation, and BMW won’t be able to lose focus, with the all-new Audi A4 also finally arriving in showrooms in the next couple of months. A minor facelift of the 3-series won’t be enough to keep the model ahead. [Read more…]