After two years of growth, sales of limousines in Europe are back down again, by 6% to nearly 43.500 sales, or 0,3% of the overall market. The dominant segment leader Mercedes-Benz S-Class rebounds after three straight years of lost share to return to above 33% share with over 14.000 sales. This is still a long way from the nearly 43% share the model held in 2014 and 2015 but nonetheless a strong performance between rivals that are newer and fresher in a segment where innovation and product excellence are key. The recent updates of the S-Class have helped as the interior is now up-to-date again, but the changes in exterior design have been limited to prevent owners of the pre-facelift version from feeling like they’re being driven in an “ old” car. One sidenote we always need to make here is that S-Class sales include the Coupe and Convertible versions, which the others don’t offer for their limousines.
Sales in the limousine segment in Europe improved sharply in the second half of 2017 to pull the full-year figure up 13% after a 5% gain in the first half. Nearly 46.000 limousines were sold last year, 0,3% of the total European car market. Despite this impressive gain, only 2 models in the segment top-5 improve on last year, as the segment leader Mercedes-Benz S-Class is stable with a 200-unit loss thanks to a 30% gain in the fourth quarter when the facelifted version became fully available. The S-Class lost 4,6 percentage points of share in 2017, but that’s still much better than its closest rival BMW 7-series which was only in its second full year of sales but already lost 13% of its volume and 7,6 percentage points of share as the new generation’s design apparently doesn’t have a long shelf life. On the other hand, this is the third-best year for the model since 2006, and don’t forget the S-Class also includes sales of the coupe and convertible versions. Big winner of the segment is the Porsche Panamera with sales up more than threefold thanks to the new generation. The Panamera outsold the 7-Series in both the third and fourth quarters, helped by the S e-Hybrid version, but was unable to topple the BMW for 2nd place in the segment. The Sport Turismo version should help the Porsche move ahead of its rival in 2018, but it remains to be seen if that’s also enough to grab the #2 spot then, as the new generation Audi A8 is also in showrooms and looking to move up a few notches.
The limousine segment in Europe has been re-energized in the third quarter of 2017 with a 21% increase in sales after small single digit improvements in the first half of the year. Almost all of the growth in the segment can be attributed to a single model, as only two other nameplates improve while 5 out of the 8 losers are down with double digits. The big winner is the Porsche Panamera with sales up almost six-fold on the previous generation last year, helped additionally by the launch of the Panamera S e-Hybrid in June, which accounted for 60% of the model’s sales since. That’s significantly higher than the brand’s own expectations of 10% to 15%. Part of the explanation for its success lies in tax benefits that some countries hand out to buyers of plug in vehicles. For example, the hybrid’s share of Panamera sales in Belgium was above 90%, and 70% in France. Balancing it out, about 25% of its sales in its largest market Germany are partly electrified. As a result, the Panamera was the best seller in July and in 2nd place of the segment in the third quarter ahead of the BMW 7-series but still behind the traditional leader Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Keep in mind that S-Class sales also include the Coupe and Convertible versions, so in pure sedan sales the 7-Series is on top of the ranking.
With the Frankfurt Auto Show almost upon us, Bart and I figured we’d run one of our customary Good, Bad and Ugly features ahead of the actual show, just to make sure we’re not swamped with the debuts once the doors open. This is a series all about opinions on a site totally dedicated to facts, just to balance it off a bit. Here we’ll give our views on new cars and invite you to give yours, be it in the poll at the bottom or in the comment section below. Fortunately, every opinion is personal so even Bart and I don’t always agree and we hope you don’t either.
Bentley Continental GT
Sales in the limousine segment in Europe increased 4% in Q2 of 2017, and as a result the segment is up 5% in the first half, to 23.337 sales. However, 4 models out of the top-5 and 7 out of the top-10 show double digit declines in the second quarter as only one model more than makes up for all of their losses. Segment leader Mercedes-Benz S-Class sees its share of the segment thaw from a dominant 45% in the first half of 2015 to 38,7% in the first half of 2016 to “just” 32,8% now. Its segment leadership still cannot be touched, although we have to mention that its figures include sales of the coupe and convertible versions, so in terms of pure sedan sales, the BMW 7-series could be either very close or even ahead. Worryingly, the 7-Series is already down 19% in Q2 despite being still in its second year of sales. The main culprit of its early demise may the the new generation Porsche Panamera, which sold a healthy 2.670 copies in the second quarter, less than 500 sales behind the 7-Series. In fact, the Panamera was the segment leader in June, holding 31,2% of the segment that month and selling 200 more copies than both the Mercedes and the BMW. And this is before Porsche has launched the Sport Turismo version, a kind of shooting brake/station wagon version which should boost its popularity further.
The limousine segment in Europe was up 6% to 11.600 sales in the first quarter of 2017, compared to an overall market up 7,8%. Segment leader Mercedes-Benz S-Class holds on to its top spot, but loses 9% of its volume and is now under serious threat of the new generation BMW 7-series. Considering the S-Class figures also include sales of the coupe and convertible versions, BMW most likely outsells its rival in pure sedan sales. On the bottom step of the podium we have a change of guard, as the Audi A8 loses a quarter of its volume as it’s due for a redesign, which promises to be the most advanced car of its class, just like its two rivals when they get updated. The A8 loses its position to the second generation Porsche Panamera, which triples the volume of its predecessor in the same period last year.
Sales of limousines in Europe were up 5% in 2016, compared to an overall market up 6,2%, but were stable in Q4. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been so dominant in this segment that it holds on to its lead despite a 10% loss in volume while its nearest rival more than doubles up. The all-new BMW 7-series outsold the S-Class in Q4 and looks set to take control of the segment in 2017, the last time it did so was in 2012. Keep in mind it may already have done so in 2016 when comparing pure limousine sales, as the S-Class figures also include sales of the coupe and convertible models, which BMW doesn’t offer. The Audi A8 stays in third place with sales down 20% for the year as it’s starting to show its age. The A8 lost more than a third of its volume in Q4, when it was outsold by the all-new Porsche Panamera, which is aiming for that #3 spot in 2017.
Sales in the limousine segment in Europe are up 7% in the first three quarters of 2016, slightly slower than the overall market at +7,5%. In the first half, the segment had outgrown the market, but growth has slowed in Q3. Unsurprisingly, the German luxury brands control more than 90% of this segment, of course helped by their home country, which is the largest market for these vehicles in Europe. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class sees its share of the segment diminish from 44,7% in the first nine months of 2015 to 38,4% in the same period this year, keeping it ahead of the all-new BMW 7-Series. But there’s a catch: S-Class sales include those of the coupe and convertible models, which means that in pure sedan sales, the 7-Series may actually have reclaimed the lead of the segment. The Audi A8 is a distant third, unable to keep up with the brand power of the S-Class (“the best or nothing”), nor the freshness of the 7.
Sales of limousines in Europe were up 10% in the first half of 2016, which is faster than the overall market at +8,8%. The segment showed particular strong sales in Q2, when sales grew 13,5%, boosted by the new generation BMW 7-series. Despite deliveries of the latest version of Munich’s largest sedan picking up traction, it still trailed the king of the segment Mercedes-Benz S-Class by 600 units in that second quarter. However, keep in mind that Mercedes includes sales of its S-Class Coupe and Convertible in these figures, and unfortunately we don’t have a breakdown per body style. That means we’ll have to make assumptions of the share of non-sedans the brand sells, but I’m pretty sure it’s been a tight race between the S-Class sedan and the 7-Series sedan in Q2. The Audi A8 is now a distant third with sales down 13% on last year, when it had just been facelifted.
The limousine segment in Europe grew 6% in Q1 of 2016, boosted by the new generation BMW 7-Series, which almost triples its volume over the same period last year, while suffering from supply shortages on the Plug-In Hybrid 740e version. That version has apparently already been sold out for the rest of the year. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class manages to hold on to its #1 position for now, but bear in mind its figures include the still very fresh Coupe version, and we don’t know how many as sales are not split. That means that BMW could lead in pure sedan sales of the 7-Series vs. the S-Class. The S-Class convertible has also just arrived at dealerships, so total sales of all versions will probably stay in front for the rest of the year, but I’d love to know the sales distribution of its body styles before declaring it the winner of the limousine segment.[Read more…]