The European compact premium segment is up a shy 3% in the first half of 2014, but this is all thanks to new entrants and increased sales of the segment leader, Audi A3. Helped by the addition of the “Limousine” sedan version, the A3 has added almost a third to its sales of last year, while its three closest rivals all lose volume in double digits. As a result, it has fortified its leadership, last year the A3 had the BMW 1-series breathing down its neck after six months, but this year they are separated by more than 35.000 sales.
The newly released BMW 2-series isn’t yet helping the brand from Munich, topping out at 1.726 sales in June, less than a tenth of June’s A3 sales. Perhaps the arrival of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class rival 2-series Active Tourer can help BMW catch up with Audi in this segment.
It will be hard to catch up with Mercedes-Benz, which also has 3 body styles available, each with their own nameplate, and is the combined volume leader of the segment with close to 129.000 sales, down from almost 137.000 last year, as the CLA can’t make up for losses by the A-Class and B-Class.
The Volvo V40 remains surprisingly stable and is set to keep it that way thanks to excellent performances in its home market of Sweden and in The Netherlands, where it receives government subsidies for its fuel efficient diesel engines, even the 140kW (190hp) D4 version.
The BMW i3 EV with the optional range extender is selling at the same pace as its hybrid competitor Lexus CT and needs just a little push in the back to become the second EV to reach the 10.000 annual sales level, after the Nissan Leaf.
PREMIUM COMPACT CAR
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
After losing the segment crown to the Audi A1 for the first time in 2013, the Mini has fallen further behind this year as the British brand awaits the third generation Mini hatchback, its core model. As both other models in the segment remain virtually flat, the Mini by itself leads the premium small car segment into the red.
European deliveries of this new generation started in June and straight out of the box the Mini reclaimed its leadership, outselling the A1 by a 1000 units. Whether that will be enough to get back onto the segment’s top spot over the full year will remain unclear for now, but the Mini will undoubtedly beat the little Audi next year.
After sinking almost 30% from 2012 to 2013, the Alfa Romeo MiTo seems to have bottomed out for now, although the Fiat Punto-based model will be phased out at the end of its lifecycle in 2016.
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