The premium compact car segment is the fastest growing premium segment, growing 21% in 2013, to a full-year total of over 720.000 units. Add another 208.000 premium small cars to the mix, and the segment is closing in on a million annual sales.
The segment is on a roll thanks to new entrants and model changes in recent years.
The BMW 1-series and Mercedes-Benz B-Class are already the “oldest” of the top players, as both were renewed in 2011, while the Audi A3, Volvo V40 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class and CLA were introduced or renewed in 2012.
As a result, the 1-series has lost the top spot of the segment to the A3 and has the A-Class breathing down its neck, while it sold more than two times as good as the outgoing MPV-styled A-Class.
With three models in the line-up, a hatchback, an MPV and a four-door coupe, Mercedes-Benz is the clear leader of the segment, with almost 260.000 sales combined, or over 36% of the segment, but BMW will introduce the 2-series Active Tourer MPV this year, which is aimed directly at the B-Class. The 2-series coupe has just been introduced, which will add another handful of sales to the Bavarian brand. And the BMW i3 EV with an optional range extender has arrived in showrooms in the last quarter of 2013, BMW says it already has a large backlog of orders for the model, so I expect it to move into the segment top 8 this year.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta has just been facelifted late 2013, but I doubt it will help the model reverse its sales slide, as the brand is left with just two volume models and a niche model for another couple of years.
Audi A3 sales include 3.926 convertible versions, down from 7.659 units in 2012.
BMW 1-series sales include 4.907 coupe versions, down from 9.649 units in 2012, and 6.774 convertible versions, down from 10.058 units in 2012.
In the premium small car segment, we already saw back in October that the Audi A1 had taken the lead from the Mini Cooper, but as the new generation Mini hatchback will hit showrooms early 2014, the British-German car will likely strike back this year. Mini sales in 2013 can be split into 7.485 Clubman, 3.858 Coupe and 2.678 Roadster versions, the rest of the volume comes from the Mini hatchback and convertible.
This sub-segment is basically a two-horse race, as the Alfa Romeo MiTo is further down on an already appalling 2012. It peaked in 2009 at over 62.000 units, but has been sliding ever since, and a replacement is not due for another couple of years.
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