After outgrowing the overall market in 2016, the premium compact car segment in Europe appears to plateau in the first quarter of 2017 with sales down 1% in a market that continues to grow (+7,8%). The dominant segment leader is in trouble, as the Audi A3 loses 12% of its volume in the same period last year, while its nearest rivals continue to grow. The A3’s top spot is not yet in jeopardy, as the model still has an 11.000-unit advantage over its nearest rival, but its share of the segment has dipped to an all-time low of 20%. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class holds on to 2nd place by the skin of its teeth, as the BMW 1-series grows 16% to come within 300 sales of the A-Class. It will be interesting to see how the next generation 1-Series will perform when it gets front-wheel drive and loses the 6-cylinder option, making the current generation the last hatchback in its segment with those two features which are so important to enthusiasts but much less so for the average buyer. It will trade those qualities for more generic styling and more interior room.
In an overall market up 6,2%, the premium compact car segment in Europe grows 8% in 2016, to top 900.000 annual sales for the first time ever. Growth slowed down a bit in the last quarter, when the segment grew by just 2%. Segment leader Audi A3 sees its sales fall by 4%, but still comfortably leads the segment if we’d only look at nameplates. This is relevant to mention, because Audi only has one nameplate in this segment, under which it sells four different bodystyles: 3-door and 5-door hatchbacks, a sedan and a convertible. Its main rivals have at least 3 different nameplates each in this segment, and if we’d look at total brand volume, Mercedes-Benz would be ahead of BMW by the tiniest of margins (281.348 vs 281.249), both selling Audi by more than 90.000 sales. Then again, Audi also has a smaller model, as you’ll see below, and this A1 coincidentally sells enough units to put Audi back on top by just 5.000 sales (286.532 units).
Sales of premium compact cars grow slightly faster than the overall market in the first three quarters of 2016 at +9% vs. +7,5% and at more than double the growth rate of the mainstream compact car segment at +4%. Only four of the 14 models lose volume, among which the dominant leader Audi A3, down 4% but still almost as untouchable as its platform sibling VW Golf is in the mainstream segment. However, as I explain every quarter, Audi isn’t really as dominant as the ranking suggests. Mercedes-Benz is the real leader of the segment, with a 30,1% share (down from 30,6% in 2015) from its three models, followed by BMW with a 29,6% share (up from 29%) from its 4 models, while Audi only has a 20,7% share with its single model (down from 23,6%). Since the latter is unlikely to introduce a luxury MPV based on the Touran or Sportsvan, Audi will have to make do with just the 3- and 5-door hatchback, sedan and convertible versions of the A3.
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 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…]
A while back we asked you which premium compact model not currently available in the US would have the highest chance of succeeding. The Volvo V40 came out ahead with 32% of the votes – a clear, but not decisive win over its competitors. That many think it could do well does not come as a surprise – Volvo is currently on a bit of a roll, and while the V40 predates the current “hot” XC90 and S90/V90 models, it still represents much that customers like about the brand. It’s even available as the Cross Country, a jacked-up version of the kind that’s ever so popular in the US (think Volvo XC70, Subaru Outback). [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.
The premium compact car segment continues to accelerate in 2015, with sales up 18,5% in Q3 to pull the year-to-date score up to +12%, mostly thanks to new model introductions, as the top-4 all show single-digit declines. Almost one-in-four models sold in the segment have an Audi A3 badge, in a similar fashion that its corporate sibling Volkswagen Golf controls the mainstream compact segment. However, bear in mind that the advantage of more than 50.000 units the A3 holds over its nearest rival is somewhat misleading as Audi sells both the three-door, five-door Sportback, sedan and convertible under the same badge. If you combine the Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback with the CLA sedan and wagon (shooting brake), they would add up to 135.872 units, less than 20.000 behind the A3. [Read more…]
Premium compact car sales are up 10% in the first half of 2015 with Audi pushed down as the segment’s third best selling brand despite having the top-selling model with the A3. The A3 is up 2% and consolidates its first place with the BMW 1-series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class both showing slight declines. However, the BMW 2-series is a runaway success, with almost 50.000 sales in the past 6 months. The bulk of these will be the 2-series Active Tourer MPV with the rear-wheel drive coupe and convertible taking minor volumes, but altogether the Active Tourer hasn’t yet outsold the Mercedes-Benz B-Class as the best selling premium minivan. The arrival of the 7-seater 2-series Gran Tourer should help the model claim that title by the end of the year. [Read more…]
The compact premium segment keeps going up, and even accelerating its growth rate from 3% in 2014 to 11% in Q1 of 2015, mostly thanks to the successful introduction of a new model line: the 2-series from BMW. This is in line with the 10% growth of the mainstream compact car segment.
The Audi A3 keeps its first place of the segment and even cements it by adding another 8% to its sales of last year, while its nearest competitors both lose sales. With a more than 22.000 unit advantage over the BMW 1-series, the A3 is already virtually guaranteed to lead the segment until the end of the year, even as the facelifted 1-series hits showrooms in the second quarter.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class seems to have peaked at its third place of the segment, possibly cannibalized by the introduction of the GLA small premium crossover and the Shooting Brake station wagon version of the CLA. [Read more…]