Segment stabilizes decline, helped by coupe models as sedan sales continue to sink
Sales of Premium Mid-sized cars increased 3% in the second quarter of 2017, which makes it the best performing premium car segment and beats the overall market. For the first half of the year, sales are up 1% to 235,759 units. That’s a significant improvement from the loss of 15.3% percent in 2016, and much better than the -16% of the mainstream midsized car segment, although that segment remains 4 times as large in the US. However, the premium midsized crossover segment increased 11% to almost 214.000 sales and is closing in. If in the first quarter 8 of the 16 remaining models in the segment showed double digit declines, in Q2 there were only 5 double-digit losers and 2 single-digit losers, while the remaining 9 models improved. One sidenote to the ranking: the Mercedes-Benz C-class is the only model in the segment for which sales of the coupe and convertible are included with those of the sedan/station wagon, as all others have distinctive names for their sexier models: 3-Series/4-Series, A4/A5, Q50/Q60, IS/RC. That’s why we’ve decided to give you 2 rankings this time: the blue graph with the split figures and the green graph with the combined figures. As you can see, that makes the difference between having a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW on top.
Highlights for first half 2017
- The Mercedes-Benz C-class remains firmly in charge of the ranking for individual nameplates, helped by the fact that this includes the coupe and convertible models, which are still very fresh. They also help the model score double digit growth figures even though the sedan is already past its third birthday. However, if we combine the BMW 4-Series coupe and convertible models with the 3-Series, we see that BMW sells the most cars in this segment, despite a combined loss of 3%. However, the meager 3% loss doesn’t paint the whole picture, as the 3-Series takes a big hit of 31% in Q2. This pulls its first half figure down to -16% as it’s due for an update next year. Contrastingly the 4-Series gains 22% in Q2 after spending the first quarter in the red. It is now up 6% for the first half.
- The Lexus ES is under fire from the BMW 4-Series which sold just 23 units less than the ES in Q2. Both move past the Infiniti Q50 which was third in Q1 but falls to #5 for the half.
- That third place in Q1 for the Q50 sedan was despite losing volume over last year, but in Q2 the model rebounded into growth, but not enough as the ES and 4-Series did even better. Its all-new coupe sibling Q60 coupe maintains an average of 1.000 monthly sales and gives Infiniti a nice boost in the combined ranking with a 22% increase.
- In Q1, the new generation Audi A4 was the fastest growing model in top-10,but in Q2 it grew by just 9%, which means it has fallen behind the Acura TLX. Thanks to its facelift, the TLX is up 22% in Q2 and back into the positive for the half. It took 5th place of the segment in the quarter, outselling the Q50, and is close behind its Japanese rival year-to-date. But as Acura doesn’t offer a two-door version, it remains behind Infiniti and Audi in the combined ranking.
- After a stable Q1, the Lincoln MKZ loses 5% in Q2 but stays ahead of the Lexus IS, down 28%. And the IS doesn’t get much help from the RC coupe which loses even more.
- Volvo remains fairly stable with its 60 series: the S60 sedan, V60 station wagon, and the Cross Country versions of these two. However, in Q2 Volvo was outsold by the new generation Audi A5/S5, which is now up 55% year-to-date and looks set to move up a few more spots by the end of the year. That includes the Cadillac ATS, which continues to sink by a quarter and of which Cadillac has just revealed it won’t get a direct successor, as both the ATS and CTS will be replaced by a single model. Not surprising considering Cadillac is currently selling more units of the XT5 crossover than of all its sedans combined.
- The Jaguar XE has celebrated its first birthday, but not on a high note, as it was outsold by the Alfa Romeo Giulia in Q2, which is actually quite impressive for an all-new brand that still needs to work on its brand recognition. Reports saying that the model has failed seem a bit premature and too early to tell. And besides, that’s all about expectations. I’m sure Alfa Romeo hadn’t planned a segment top-5 finish within its first year of sales.
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
Photo credit: MotorTrend