Sales of midsized luxury cars in Europe continue their downward trend in the first half of 2019, with deliveries down 1% to just under 335.000 units. And if it hadn’t been for the thunderous arrival of the Tesla Model 3, the segment would have been down by 22%. In March and June, Tesla delivered more Model 3’s than any midsized namplate except for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. I specifically say delivered as these registrations fluctuate greatly from month to month, depending on when the ship with Model 3 cars arrives from the US and cars are delivered to customers, some of whom may have ordered their EV more than a year ago. Still, Tesla has dropped a bomb onto this segment, and others will have to follow suit. For the first half of 2019, the C-Class is still in command despite a 3% drop in sales, as its formerly closest rival Audi A4 loses more than a quarter of its volume, as well as 4,5 percentage points of share, as some gasoline models still haven’t been available due to the WLTP standards introduced last September. That allows the BMW 3-series to claim the #2 spot thanks to the new generation, leading to a 3% gain in the first half and a 14% increase in Q2.
Sales of midsized luxury cars in Europe continue their downward trend in the first quarter of 2019, with deliveries down 3% to just over 160.000 units. And if it hadn’t been for the thunderous arrival of the Tesla Model 3, the segment would have been down by 14%. In March alone, Tesla delivered more Model 3’s than any midsized namplate except for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and that also includes all mainstream midsized models like the VW Passat. However, this is not reflective of the long-term potential of the Model 3, as these figures reflect deliveries of cars ordered over the past few years. Tesla registrations will continue to fluctuate greatly over the course of the year as customer deliveries are dependent on the arrival of the ships that deliver the cars to Europe. The American EV brand may make some headlines as it may seem to outperform its European rivals, and the huge amount of pre-ordered vehicles is by all means an impressive feat, but in our analysis of the registration figures, we’ll always try to compare apples to apples. For the first quarter, the C-Class is still in command despite a 6% drop in sales, as its closest rival Audi A4 loses almost a quarter of its volume, as well as 4,6 percentage points of share, as some gasoline models still haven’t been available due to the WLTP standards introduced last September. Taht allows the BMW 3-series to close the gap to the #2 spot, despite seeing its sales slide 8% as the new generation is just arriving in showrooms. With Audi’s availability issues apparently solved (sales were down “just” 7,5% in March), an upcoming facelift for the A4 and BMW’s new 3-Series picking up steam, the battle on the podium will be intense for the rest of the year, especially with the wild card Model 3 that could crash the party as well.
The midsized premium car segment in Europe shrinks for the second consecutive year in 2019, and does so by 16% to fewer than 600.000 sales or 3,8% of the overall market. That is a comparable trend to the non-luxury midsized segment, which is down 17% for the year. All top-5 players lose sales volume by 15% or more, with just the segment leader doing less terrible than the average of the class. That means the Mercedes-Benz C-Class consolidates its top spot and now has a 25,9% share, while the Audi A4 falls below 20% share. The A4 was hit especially hard in the last four months of the year, after the WLTP fuel efficiency testing standards kicked in and the brand had to stop sales of a number of popular versions of the A4, among others. Until August, A4 sales were stable on 2017, but from September onwards, the model’s average monthly sales dropped to just 30% of the average in the eight months before. In those last four months, the A4 lost almost 30.000 sales on the year before, while the C-Class lost 5.000 sales in the same period and the BMW 3-series lost 7.000 sales. With a new 3-Series in showrooms this year and Audi’s continued struggles to get the A4 tested under the new rules, there’s a significant chance of a different podium in 2019.
Sales of premium midsized cars in Europe dip slightly in 2017 with a 2% decline to 694.000 sales, 4,5% of the overall car market, down from 4,7% in 2016. This is a much better performance than that of mainstream midsized cars which are down 13% but both continue to lose volume to crossovers. Segment leader Mercedes-Benz C-Class consolidates its leadership with sales up less than 1% while its two closest rivals show double digit declines. Keep in mind that the C-Class is available in 4 versions: sedan, station wagon, coupe and convertible, while Audi and BMW split up sales of their traditional sedan and wagon versions from the more stylish counterparts. When combining all versions (as displayed in the graph), Audi takes the segment lead from BMW with over 207.000 sales (up from 206.000) vs nearly 194.000 sales (down from 212.000). Audi is boosted by the new generation A5 coupe, convertible and Sportback, up 41% on the outgoing model, although this may cannibalize sales of the regular A4, down 10%. However, that is not enough for the A5 to outsell its rival BMW 4-series, also available as a coupe, convertible and 4-door Gran Coupe. In the fourth quarter the 4-Series outsold the A5 again after the tables had been turned in Q2 and Q3. These 3 German brands now control 83,3% of the segment. However, as one of our readers pointed out a few weeks ago, Audi’s volume comes mostly from the entry-level engine specifications
The premium midsized car segment in Europe accelerates its decline in Q3 of 2017 with a loss of 9%, bringing its year-to-date figure for the first nine months also in the red at -1%. Nearly 539.000 midsized luxury cars have been delivered by European dealers so far this year. slightly declined in the second quarter of 2017, which leads to a slim 2% increase in the first half, to 378.426 sales. With the mainstream midsized segment down by 11% in Q3, this type and of vehicle continues to lose volume to crossovers. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class increases its share of the segment to over 26% as its 5% loss in the third quarter is better than the segment average, while its closest 3 rivals all drop by double digits. The success of the new generation Audi A4 has been short-lived with sales down 21% in Q3 and down 13% year-to-date. The BMW 3-series loses 14% in the third quarter but a new generation will arrive next year. Its coupe and convertible versions under the 4-series monicker are also down by 11% in the third quarter, when they were outsold by their Audi rivals A5, up 50% thanks to the new generation. The gap between those models has been narrowed to less than 3.000 sales and the A5 is fresh and has the momentum, so it may become a tight race for the segment #4 spot by the end of the year, although I think the 4-Series will prevail. One sidenote to the figures of the C-Class: they include sales of the coupe and convertible versions, which BMW and Audi sell under separate nameplates. When looking at combined figures, Audi consolidates its segment lead with 160.344 sales (-2%), ahead of BMW with 151.800 sales (-7,1%) and Mercedes-Benz with 141.488 sales (+5%). In Q3 BMW was in third place just behind Mercedes-Benz. [Read more…]
I have to admit I have a soft spot for the outgoing VW CC (née Passat CC) – it was a handsome car, especially once the facelift sharpened up its front design and rid of the weird oval graphics in the rear lights, and it seemed like a reasonable step up from the more humdrum Passat (in fact, the nickname the press gave it before it was launched, “Passat Plus”, captured its market placement pretty perfectly). What’s more, it sold pretty well, reaching around 30,000 units in its best years both in Europe and in the US. But now VW has grander ambitions for its indirect replacement, the Arteon, and wants the model to go after Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4-series Gran Coupe. To enable this the carmaker has allowed the Arteon to grow in size, and given it sharper styling which it hopes will imbue the model with a sense of classy sportiness. So far so good, it’s just a pit that in the process the Arteon ended up looking quite a bit like another decidedly non-premium model…