The premium large SUV segment in Europe returns to growth in the first quarter of 2019, helped by the arrival of five new nameplates. Nearly 70.000 large luxury SUVs were delivered in Q1, and the BMW X5 is still the best seller of them all. A new generation X5 has picked up where the previous one finished its life cycle: on top of the ranking. A 6% increase in deliveries means the BMW has grown its share of the segment to 13,4%. In second place we find the Range Rover Sport, which hasn’t been this high in the ranking since 2015. It’s helped by the Plug-in Hybrid version which has a take rate of 24% and is therefore responsible for more than the 12% growth of the nameplate. That allows the RR Sport to move past the Volvo XC90, which is down 10% despite selling more PHEVs than Range Rover, with a take rate of 27,4% for the electrified Swede. This is the only luxury segment where the Germans don’t dominate the top of the charts, but just due to their large number of entrants (12 out of 24 nameplates are German), they still control more than half of its sales with a 56,3% share of the segment. BMW is the leader with 15,7% share with its three models, followed by Audi with 14,2% with its two models, and Mercedes-Benz is struggling at just 10,6% for its four models. This is due to the model changeover of its best seller GLE, which sees a 58% drop in deliveries just as the new generation is arriving in showrooms. The GLE is therefore down to #8 and is just slightly ahead of the G-Class, which even outsold it in February, for the very first time ever.
Sales of premium large SUVs in Europe declined in 2018 for the second year in a row, after three consecutive years of explosive growth during which 100.000 annual sales were added. In the last two years, the segment has lost 33.000 sales again as volume is back to 255.000 sales, down 6% on 2017. The entire top-5 is down for the year and only 4 out of the 18 remaining players in this class improve their volume this year. The BMW X5 holds on to the segment lead by the skin of its teeth, less than 250 sales ahead of the Volvo XC90. For the X5, this is its fifth consecutive year on top of the ranking, and for the XC90 it would have been its first win ever, if only it could have found those 250 extra buyers. The X5 is being replaced in 2019, which means it’s likely to storm back ahead again, and this was the Volvo’s only chance for a while. The Mercedes-Benz GLE in third place will also be renewed in 2019 and may threaten the X5 and XC90 to climb either one or two spots once it reaches full availability. The last time the GLE (or M-Class) finished on top of its class was in 2013. The Range Rover Sport climbs one spot to #4 with sales down just 5% which allows it to move past the Audi Q7, down to places into 5th as the WLTP affected sales of some of its versions, and the introduction of the Q8 didn’t help either. Its sibling model Volkswagen Touareg did better with an increase of 15% thanks to the new, third generation. Still, sales are far below the peak of the namplate’s first generation in 2004 and 2005 when it sold over 40.000 copies in Europe.
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