US car sales analysis 2017 Q4 – Sports Mid-sized segment

Dodge Challenger is the only model not to lose sales as Ford Mustang’s sales drop drives segment decline 

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Sales in the sports mid-sized segment fell by 10.4% to 49,761 in the fourth quarter of 2017, while overall sales in 2017 fell by 13.9% to 231,161. With only one model seeing its sales rise last year it’s fair to say that the segment has seen better days, and with no new updates coming for the American big three muscle (Ford Mustang,

Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger) coming in 2018 this state of things probably won’t change quickly. What’s more, the remainder of the cars in the segment, most of which come from premium brands, are also not doing well despite many of them having been refreshed recently, highlighting the migration of consumers from this segment to alternative “emotional purchases” such as 4-door “coupes” (BMW 4-series GranCoupe, Audi A5 Sportback) and sporty SUVs (BMW X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, Porsche Macan).

Highlights:

  • Sales of the segment-leading Ford Mustang finally started recovering in the fourth quarter, with a 5.3% rise in sales, but this was too late to meaningfully make up for the almost 30% decline in the first three quarters
  • Chevrolet Camaro once again played second fiddle to the Mustang in 2017, although its sales decline was much smaller at 7%, allowing it to narrow down the gap to the Ford
  • In a similar vain the evergreen Dodge Challenger narrowed down the gap to the Camaro, being the only model in the segment to not see its sales fall in 2017, and giving it the third best year in a row, remarkable given that the model has been on the market for ten years no

Clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off

  • Nissan 370Z hanged onto fourth spot with relative ease, though that is small comfort for the model whose sales were less than 15% of what they were at the peak of its popularity in 2003, with Nissan going back-and-forth on whether to even replace it with a new generation
  • In a similar vain Mercedes-Benz seems to be in no rush to replace the aging SLC, making the model’s 16% sales drop look like decent performance
  • By comparison, neither Porsche nor Audi will be happy with the performance of their sports cars, with the newly-facelifted Cayman and Boxster, as well as the still-fresh Audi TT seeing their sales fall by double digits on 2016
  • Sales of both Hyundai Genesis Coupe and BMW Z4 halted in Q3’17, though right now only the BMW has announced a replacement for its model, with Hyundai more likely to produce a Genesis G70 coupe than a RWD Hyundai coupe in the future
  • Finally, it seems that the reverse-halo of its new Giulia and Stelvio stablemates seems to be rubbing off on the Alfa Romeo 4C, whose sales rose by 42% in Q4’17

Note: clicking on the model names in legend turns the display for that model on/off; data is displayed from 1990 onwards, but starts earlier – access previous years using slider on bottom