The premium large car segment in Europe is in dire straits with a loss of 6% in 2016 but a more painful -13% in Q4. Only one model in the top-10 manages to improve its volume: the new leader Mercedes-Benz E-Class, helped by the new generation. The E-Class was up 17% for the year and an even more impressive 32% in Q4. To be fair, this includes sales of the coupe version, which Audi doesn’t offer in this class and BMW has split off from the 5-Series as the 6-Series. The Audi A6 and BMW 5-series are actually impressively stable considering their age compared to the fresh E-Class. The A6 was down just 2% (-10% in Q4) and its new generation isn’t expected until 2018, while the 5-Series lost 8% (-2% in Q4) while the new generation had already been revealed and has entered showrooms early 2017.
The premium large car segment in Europe is down 3% in the first nine months of 2016, as only two models in the top-10 improve their sales, while six others are down with double digits. As expected, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class takes control of the segment thanks to its new generation, growing by 13% and passing the Audi A6, up by less than 1% so far this year. At least that’s still better than most others, and the A6 actually adds a full percentage point of share, even though it’s about to be replaced next year. As we’ve seen with the A4 and now the A5 and Q5, Audi is able to keep sales of its outgoing models impressively stable, all the way to their replacement by the next generation. BMW can’t say the same, with its 5-Series down 10% for the year, as its successor has already been revealed. In terms of design, this is one of the most conservative in the market, and BMW proves that point once again with the evolutionairy design of the next-gen 5.
Sales of premium large cars in Europe are down 1% in the first half of 2016, as they recovered in Q2 from a 5% dip in the first quarter. With “just” a 77% share of the segment, the Germans are less dominant in large cars than they are in any premium car segment (this excludes SUVs where their dominance is even less). The battle for the segment lead has intensified, with the Audi A6 holding on to its top position, but only just. It was outsold in Q2 by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class by a margin of 3.000 units and is more than likely to have to relegate its position by the next quarter to the new generation E-Class. The E-Class is already the biggest winner in the segment top-10 with an increase of 13% in the first half, thanks to a 27,5% improvement in Q2 when deliveries of the new generation started. It’s unlikely to face any strong competition for the rest of the year, until BMW answers with the next generation 5-series by early 2017.
The premium large car segment in Europe has shrunk by 5% in the first quarter of 2016, as customers are waiting for new versions of two of the top-3 players in this segment. So I expect this segment to show a healthy increase by the time of the year, with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5-Series on top of the sales charts, thank to their new generations. That means sales of the outgoing versions of those cars are down, leaving the Audi A6 to consolidate its position as the leader of the segment, a title it claimed last year when it was freshly updated. The new E-Class will arrive in showrooms in the second quarter, and has been fully revealed. Its design is not very surprising, as it’s hard to distinguish from the C-Class and S-Class but for its size. Then again, this strategy seems to work for Audi, and the majority of our readers also think the new one is better than the old one, when polled last January. BMW hasn’t yet revealed much of its new 5-Series, but this also promises to be a frontrunner in new technology.[Read more…]
Sales of premium large cars are down 1% to 389.184 units in 2015, which makes last year the second-worst year for the segment, after 2009. However, if you consider that the top-4 models, which hold over 80% of segment volume, are due to be replaced in 2016, a decrease of just one percent is actually quite a stable performance. The new generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class has already been revealed and will be the first of the three to arrive in European showrooms. As a result, it is down the most at -15%. It remains to be seen if the design of the new E-Class is going to be a hit or a miss, as it either looks like a shrunk S-Class or a blown-up C-Class. Then again, don’t expect any revolutions from Audi and BMW either, as this is by far the most conservative segment in terms of design. Both will show their new generations of the A6 and 5-series soon and they should be in showrooms in the second half of the year. Considering Audi’s design evolution, it’s not hard to imagine what the new A6 will look like: exactly like the outgoing model with just a few touch-ups to keep it recognizable yet fresh at the same time. Meanwhile, BMW is expected to follow a similar strategy even though the new 5-series will be built on a shortened version of the lightweight platform of the also new 7-series, which means it’ll shed some weight. All three will become available with electrified drivetrains, although no all-electric versions are in the pipeline that we know of.
The votes are in, and it seems that the majority of you are very bullish on the S90’s prospects. This is interesting in the context of the kind of cars the S90 would have to beat on its way to sales of 40,000+ between the US and Europe: Jaguar XF, Lexus GS, maybe even Audi A6 in the US. What’s more, to get any sort of volume in the US the S90 would actually have to sell at least as well as its V70/XC70 sibling, which seems unlikely given that those models represent the concentrated essence of Volvo in the US. But, time will tell – we’ll be giving you updates throughout 2016. [Read more…]
Last week Volvo finally released pictures of the long-awaited S90 sedan, which replaces the long-in-the-tooth S80 model. And, would you know it, it’s a rather good-looking car, at least until you look at the rear, where the desire to be original seems to have gotten the better of the designers’ sense of style. Still, for a car that’s based on an inherently FWD platform the S90 looks really dynamic, with a large “premium gap” between the front wheels and the leading edge of the doors. Add to that a plush interior that manages to look both premium and uniquely non-German, and the promise of a segment-leading “dual engine” plug-in hybrid system, the S90 has potential to succeed where the S80 failed. [Read more…]
The premium large car segment in Europe has found the way back up again, with sales improving 4,4% in Q3, bringing the year-to-date score to -2%, from -5% in the first half of the year. The ongoing three-way battle between the Audi A6, BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class appears to be decided for 2015, with the A6 extending its lead in Q3, even if the 5-series gained 9,1% this quarter and sold just 300 units less than its rival. This also put the 5-er well ahead of the E-Class to consolidate its #2 spot that had been under fire in Q2.
For the A6, which hadn’t led the segment since 2007, it’s likely to be a short stint on top, as both of its main competitors are being completely renewed next year. Mercedes will go first, around the end of the second quarter, and BMW will follow shortly with the new 5-series. Audi won’t renew the A6 until a year later. [Read more…]
The US Large Premium segment shrank by 13% year-on-year, the largest decline from among the Premium segments and the third largest from among the 25 segments we keep track of. Part of the reason may be that the segment leaders are aging, but overall there may be a shift away from the segment towards the smaller but ever-so-capable Premium Mid-sized offerings. It will be interesting to see how much the market will recover once the new BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class hit the market.
For now, the market leader remains the Lexus ES, going strong in its fourth year on the market. For the European readers among you – not sure what the ES is? It is basically the last mainstream car that Lexus targets unashamedly at older customers, with its comfy suspension setting, homely FWD underpinnings from the Toyota Avalon and the softest version of its divisive design language. Even though Lexus may be chasing BMWs these days the ES remains popular with its target audience – while it lost 12% of sales in doing so it actually retained its share of the segment, and there is a facelift arriving in the second half of 2015.
The premium large car segment in Europe continues its slow but steady decline, with sales down 5% in the first half of 2015, after a 3% drop in Q1. After the Mercedes-Benz E-Class led the segment in 2014, the BMW 5-series took control in the first three months of 2015, but in the following quarter, both were being outsold by the Audi A6, and by a vast margin.
Year-to-date the A6, which has been facelifted earlier this year, is now ahead of its two main rivals with a 3.500 and 4.500 units lead respectively, thanks to being the freshest of the threesome. Both the 5-series and the E-Class have been facelifted in 2013, the former only slightly and the latter received major updates and will be fully renewed next year. The 5-series won’t be replaced until 2017. If the A6 manages to hold on to its top position, which I think it will, it will be the first time since 2007 it will top the class, and also the first time for the current generation. The E-Class outsold the 5-series in May and June, so the full-year top-3 is likely to be in this order: A6, E-Class, 5-series. [Read more…]