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 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.
The large premium SUV segment is one of the fastest growing in Europe, with sales up a booming 31% in the first half of 2016, a figure only beaten by the mainstream large MPV segment. And like that segment, this is a direct result of the renewal of a few key players: two thirds of the segment growth can be attributed to just two models: the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7. These two redesigned SUVs are still unable to knock the ruling leader BMW X5 off its throne, despite losing a big chunk of the segment share with sales flat at just +2%. The two newcomers take the bottom steps of the podium but will surely attempt another coup in the second half of the year. The Range Rover Sport also has stable sales but is relegated to fourth place ahead of the Mercedes-Benz GLE, the facelifted and renamed M-Class. Behind these five theres a wide gap to the second tier of the segment, led by the aging Volkswagen Touareg ahead of its platform sibling Porsche Cayenne, both losing double digit volume in the first half of the year.
Recently I’ve been looking to buy a car capable of carrying more than the usual five passengers, which got me thinking about the way this market has developed over the past few decades, and how it will change in the future. However, rather than spend time retreading the topic that’s been covered thousands of times, namely the history of the minivan and SUVs, I want to focus on the the interesting efforts by carmakers to offer those looking for space something genuinely new and potentially market-changing. In the first of a series of articles, I look at the brief history of the family-haulers, and then dive into the American experience of looking for the middle ground between the unsexy minivan and the gas-guzzling and compromised SUVs.
Sales of premium large SUVs in Europe are up by more than a third in Q1 of 2016, boosted by the thunderous arrival of two renewed models which will fight for podium positions the rest of the year and may even threaten the leader of the segment. For now, the BMW X5 holds on to its title despite sales stable at +1%. Behind it, the new generation Volvo XC90 surges to the #2 spot after already outselling the X5 in February. In third place we find another newcomer, the Audi Q7 which led the segment in January and will continue to challenge both the Volvo and the BMW for the rest of the year. Especially the plug-in hybrid versions of these three SUVs have quickly gained popularity, and that may help the Mercedes-Benz GLE move past the Range Rover Sport this year as well.[Read more…]
Sales of premium large SUVs has risen sharply in 2015 at +27% to 242.863 sales, the best figure since 2008 and only the sixth time this segment tops 200.000 units, after the 2004-2008 stint. For the sixth time in the eight years the BMW X5 is the leader of the segment, although it loses 4,3 percentage points of share as it is up by just a single unit last year. However, the X5 was so dominant in 2014 that it still has an advantage of almost 10.000 units to the #2 in 2015. The Range Rover Sport in up 10% and holds on to its second place, while the Volkswagen Touareg benefits from an increase of 24% and the name change of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class to GLE, and climbs onto the segment podium. When calculated together, the GLE and M-Class would still be ahead of the Touareg.
Sales of premium large SUVs in Europe continue to boom, as the segment grew by an impressive 38% in Q3 and +18% year-to-date, helped by a number of model changeovers and continued popularity of existing models. While the leader of the segment BMW X5 loses some market share, it remains unchallenged this year, as it adds over 2.500 units to its lead over the #2 Range Rover Sport. The Volkswagen Touareg has an impressive quarter as it consolidates its third place, outselling its corporate sibling Porsche Cayenne by more than 1.700 units. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class loses another position as it is being facelifed and renamed Mercedes-Benz GLE, which makes its first appearance in the ranking at #14 at just one month of sales.
However, by the end of the year these last three models are in danger of losing out to the surging Audi Q7, whose new generation scored an impressive 2nd place in Q3 and if it continues like this, the Q7 will take the bottom spot of the segment podium for 2015. That also means the Q7 leaves the Volvo XC90 far behind, taking a 3.200 unit advantage in the last three months alone. [Read more…]
The Premium Large SUV segment grew by 7%, a faster pace of growth than the market overall (4%), but decidedely than both the Premium Midsize and Compact segments (26% and 40%, respectively). Nonetheless, it was a respectable performance for what is the largest of the three segments – in fact it is the only case from among all segment groupings (Mainstream, Premium, SUV, SUV Premium) where the largest cars are the most popular. Part of the reason, though, may be in the definition of the segment which deviates from that of non-premium SUVs, and groups cars as disparate as the Lincoln MKX and Cadillac Escalade under the Large banner, for a grand total of 22 models (compared to 17 in Europe).
The Lexus RX remains the undisputed market leader, despite being in its final year. With a new, bolder RX about to go on sale this dominance is only set to expand, which is bad news for the competition. In fact, the only trick that Lexus seems to be missing is that it still won’t offer the RX with a 3rd row – it is one of only three models in the top 10 of this segment that don’t offer 3 rows of seating, and while the GX and LX models fill that gap somewhat you have to wonder whether a more modern, monocoque-based model would not sell better (e.g. the Mercedes-Benz GL-class in #6 sells around half as many units as the M-class, while combined the GX/LX sell only around a quarter as many units as the RX). Just something to ponder, Lexus – you don’t want to miss out the way you have been doing by not entering the Premium Compact SUV segment until now, where the NX went straight to #4 in sales.
In second spot is the Acura MDX, though with a 4% drop in sales year-on-year it was almost overtaken by BMW’s new X5, which enjoyed a 30% growth in sales. Both models, along with the Mercedes-Benz M-Class in fourth, are examples of a how the new generation of premium SUVs traded in the muscular looks of the previous generation for less offensive, more aerodynamic looks that make them look like pumped-up wagons more than ever.
Following in #5 is the Infiniti QX60 (née JX), a premium version of the Nissan Pathfinder that clearly has found favor with consumers thanks to its family-friendliness. In fact, its softer looks, better ride and space are clearly in more demand than aggressive looks and Cayenne-chasing handling of its more established brother, the QX70 (née FX), which languishes in 18th spot in sales with fewer than 15% of the units sold.
In #7 is the Lexus GX, the brand’s luxurious take on the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (smaller of the two). In placing as high as it does, it leads the sales charts for body-on-frame SUVs, ahead of other models such as the Cadillac Escalade and its long-wheelbase brother, the Escalade ESV (#9 and #15, respectively, twinned with the Chevy Tahoe/Suburban), the Infiniti QX80 (née QX56, brother of the Nissan Patrol not sold in the US), the ancient Lincoln Navigator (#16, brother of Ford’s Expedition), the evergreen Mercedes-Benz G-class (#20) and the Lexus LX (#21, based on the large Toyota Land Cruiser). Overall, the body-on-frame models accounted for only 17% of the segment in the first half of 2015.
In #8 and #10 are the Range Rover Sport and Range Rover, with the sales of the latter growing especially quickly at 54%. But while the success of the “daddy” Range Rover is good news for JLR, it’s debatable whether they will regard the rate at which the Sport is selling as a success. After all, it’s a brand new model and yet its 14% growth rate is nothing to write home about. One wonders whether the blame does not lie with Range Rover’s confused model strategy, in that it gave its supposedly sporty model a 3rd row, compromising its chances against the likes of Porsche’s Cayenne, but not really luring yummy-mummies away from their RXs or X5s.
In #11 is the first of the three Lincoln models, the soon-to-be-replaced MKX, whose sales were down a whopping 33% (second only to the even older Volvo XC90, whose sales dropped 41%, landing it at the bottom of the sales rankings). Still, it did better on the market than the aforementioned Navigator in #16, or the whale-shaped MKT (#19, sales down 23%). It also beat out the Audi Q7 (#12), which miraculously managed a 1% sales increase in its 8th year on the market. It will be interesting how well the new MKX and Q7 do – I expect especially the latter to do much better when the new model goes on sale.
From among the truly sporty upscale SUVs Porsche’s Cayenne remained top-dog in #13, though it sales were down 8%, suggesting its sales are being cannibalized by its smaller brother, the Macan. Still, it managed to sell more than twice as many units as BMW’s X6 (#17) or Infiniti’s QX70 (#18). While we won’t be able to break them out, it’ll be interesting whether we’ll know how well Mercedes-Benz’s new GLE Coupe will do against this lot.
The Premium Large SUV segment has accelerated its growth in the second quarter of 2015, with first half sales now up 10% on last year. Despite a 1% drop in sales, the BMW X5 firmly holds on to its top spot. The Range Rover Sport and Volkswagen Touareg both improve 9%, kicking the Mercedes-Benz M-Class off the podium. The M-Class will be replaced by the GLE in the second half of the year, which should come up on top in 2016.
The Porsche Cayenne improves 44% on last year, with almost 1.500 e-Hybrid Plug-In sales, but no clear explanation for the rest of the model’s growth. The Land Rover Discovery was in 6th place in Q1, but has been passed by both the Range Rover and the BMW X6 for the first half. The X6 is the fastest growing model of the segment thanks to its new generation. Those honors will soon go to the all-new Volvo XC90, which was down 95% to just over 100 sales of the outgoing model in Q1, but the new generation was up to more than 3.000 sales in June, making it the second best selling model of the segment that month. [Read more…]
After growing 11% in 2014 on the arrival of the new BMW X5, the Premium Large SUV segment is up another 6% in the first quarter of this year, and the growth is shared much more evenly, with 10 out of 17 nameplates in positive territory (up from 7 out of 17 last year) and another all-new BMW as the fastest growing model in the segment.
With sales up 3%, the X5 adds sales but loses market share in the segment. It does hold on to the lead, as its main rival the Range Rover Sport also adds just 3% to its volume. One of the losers in the segment is the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, which will be replaced by the GLE early next year. It is kicked off the segment podium by the Volkswagen Touareg, up 26%. Mercedes will first introduce a GLE Coupe this year to compete with BMW’s X6.
After losing 27% off its volume in 2014 and being outsold by the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Porsche Cayenne is back up by 28% in Q1 of this year. [Read more…]