The Large Car segment fell by almost as much as the Midsized segment in the first quarter of 2017: down 18.4% to 104,985 sales. The segment that has already completely disappeared in Europe about 10 years ago is in danger of extinction in the US too, as there are few plans for new models anytime soon (just the new generation of the slow-selling Azera), so the double digit declines are likely to continue through the rest of this year. There basically are two tiers in this segment: the still relatively fresh models (Impala, Maxima, LaCrosse, Cadenza) and the decade-old models that have seen their life cycles extended for yet another few years (Charger, 300, Taurus) or which will be axed soon (SS, Caprice). The one stuck in the middle is the Avalon at 5 years old. Of the 11 nameplates in this segment, 7 showed double digit declines, only three showed single digit declines and a single model improved (Chevy SS), and that’s probably because dealers are dumping off their last remaining stock before the model is killed off.
Highlights for 2017-Q1:
- After the Chevrolet Impala did not finish at the top of the ranking for the first time ever in 2016, it starts 2017 on the same note: in 2nd place behind the Dodge Charger. It didn’t help that GM finally killed off the rental-car special previous generation Impala last year, and also decided to significantly cut down on (unprofitable and resale value deteriorating) dumping on rental car lots for its entire line up. Not that the Charger has much to celebrate, its volume is also down by almost 20% and a replacement isn’t due for at least two more years. If at all.
The stylish Nissan Maxima held on to third place with the lowest decline of the segment. Not bad on the back of a 55% increase in 2016. Its podium position means it fended off the Chrysler 300 and Ford Taurus, which also declined with just single digits despite being already 6 years old (but really 13 years old) and 8 years old respectively. That’s a much better performance than the “just” 5 years old Toyota Avalon which saw its volume decline by almost 30% after already sinking 20% in all of 2016.
- Despite being one of the freshest of the bunch, the Buick LaCrosse is the biggest loser of the segment at -44.5% due to abysmal performances in January and February, especially compared to an artificially high January of 2016. But in March, the LaCrosse was slightly up on last year again.
- The Chevrolet SS was only slightly up in the first two months of the year, but suddenly surged in March to almost triple its first quarter volume as the nameplate is about to be discontinued. That pushed the model ahead of the two South Korean players Hyundai Azera and all-new Kia Cadenza which each lost more than a quarter of their volumes. I wonder if Hyundai will even bother to bring the next generation Azera to the US as it’s obviously obsolete next to the Genesis G80 and the volumes don’t really justify it.
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