Sales in the premium mid-sized segment rose by only 2% compared to 2014, better than the premium large and premium limousine segments, but worse than the premium compact segment and the industry average growth rate of 5%. What’s more, the segment may perform worse still in 2016, seeing as the only notable new model that will reach the US in the next year is the new Audi A4, which is not nearly as big of a player in the US as it is in other markets.
It should come as no surprise that in 2015 the BMW 3-series was the segment leader, with more than a quarter of sales, just as it has been for the past decade. In fact, it is the only model in the segment to have broken the 100,000 annual sales barrier over that period. In 2015 the 3-series saw its sales fall by 1% as the model enters its 5th year in production with only a small recent facelift to coax it along until the all-new model arrives sometime in 2017.
In second spot, again as it has been for the past decade, is the Mercedes-Benz C class. The latest generation of the model seems to have been warmly received by customers, with sales rising by 15% compared to 2014, though one wonders whether MB might have been hoping to close up on its arch-rival a bit more than it has. It may be that the new coupe model will help grow sales further, though I doubt the C class will crack 100,000 anytime soon.
The Lexus IS and its new-for-2015 RC sister model rose to third place in 2015 on the back of a 15% annual growth, pushing the Infiniti Q50 off the podium. In fact, the latest generation of the IS is a big success for Lexus, surpassing 60,000 units for the first time in a decade, and recovering from a slump that saw the previous generation sell fewer than 30,000 units in 2011 and 2012. Infiniti, on the other hand, will be disappointed with how its still-new Q50 has been doing in the market, with 2015 sales being actually below those recorded by the previous-generation model in 2012 and 2013. This is a big step-down for a model that, in G35 guise, almost overtook the Mercedes-Benz C class for second spot in 2010.
Acura, on the other hand, must feel pretty good about the TLX – the model that come out in 2014 has allowed Acura to regain some of the market share that it’s lost over the past decade, even passing the Audi A4 in the process for fifth spot. Nonetheless, at barely over 47,000 units the TLX is still far from the 110,000 combined sales the TL and TSX models achieved in 2006. Still, with sales growing by 59% compared to 2014, the TLX is on the right path.
The same cannot be said of the American representatives in the class, the Lincoln MKZ and Cadillac ATS. Although both are still relatively new they saw their sales fall by about 10% over the last year, worse than the older Volvo S60. Such a performance must be especially galling for Cadillac, given the ambitions it had for the model. It seems that while customers like the sweet driving dynamics a purpose-designed RWD platform affords the baby Caddy, they are put off by its derivative looks and lack of space inside. As an enthusiast I hope sales pick up for the ATS soon, but it’s hard to see how Cadillac could lure more customers to the current model.
Note: 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