Sales of compact premium cars in Europe rise “just” 3% in 2014 after increasing 15% the year before. That still means record sales for the segment at almost three quarters of a million units. And if you thought a 3% change in overall volume means stable model sales, think again.
The almost traditional leader, the Audi A3, adds 19% to almost break 200.000 units, making it the model’s third best year ever, just 3.000 short to break its own 2006 record. It did reinforce its leadership, as the BMW 1-series drops 14% as the coupe and convertible versions are now counted separately as the 2-series.
The 1-series is now trailed by just 10.000 units by its archenemy Mercedes-Benz A-class, down 8% in third place. Its MPV sibling B-Class is the biggest loser of the top-10, undoubtedly losing sales to the BMW 2-series Active Tourer, BMW’s first-ever MPV and first-ever front-wheel drive car. Unfortunately, sales of the Active Tourer and the 2-series coupe and convertible are not separated, even though all they share is their name.
The Volvo V40 continues to impress, up again on an already great 2013, prolonging its title of best selling Volvo of the year. In fact, it’s even the best selling Volvo since the S40/V40 sedan and station wagon in 2001.
The Mercedes-Benz CLA keeps improving as well, closing in on the top-6 position of the struggling Alfa Romeo Giulietta, although the 2-series outsold the CLA and the Giulietta in November and December and seems likely to leapfrog both those models in 2015. The 2-series will be helped by the addition of the 7-seater Gran Tourer, while the CLA should get a boost from the Shooting Brake version.
The BMW i3 has sold over 9.000 units in its first full year of sales, constrained by supply rather than demand, and production will rise only slightly in 2015, so don’t expect the i3 to storm up the charts anytime soon. To counter the success of the i3, Mercedes-Benz will bring an all-electric version of its B-Class to the market in the second half of the year, called B-Class Electric Drive.
Also in the second quarter, BMW will launch a facelifted 1-series, which will feature the brand’s first three cylinder turbocharged engine. And in the second half of the year, Infiniti will enter the segment with the British-built Q30 hatchback. Admitting that they can’t beat the German competition by trying to sell something similar, the Japanese will offer polarizing design that potential customers will either love or hate, but which will at least stand out from the crowd. Infiniti expect to sell 30.000 units a year of the Q30 and its crossover platform-mate QX30 combined.
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Alfa Romeo Giulietta
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Mini has pulled it off! The little British hatchback had to concede its leadership of the premium small car segment to the Audi A1 in 2013 as the changeover to the new, third generation Mini was slow. In 2014, the A1 kicked the outgoing Mini’s butt from January until May, but when deliveries of the new Mini started in June, the Mini outsold its German competitor every month, but was still stuck in second place at the end of November, 4.868 units off the top spot.
But thanks to a blockbuster month of December, when the Mini sold almost 12.000 units, it came out ahead over the full year 2014, leaving the A1 to bite the dust at 700 units short. The Mini even managed to increase sales, but not enough to break through the 100.000 sales threshold. That makes it two years in a row, after 11 straight years of 100.000+ sales. Undoubtedly the Mini will sell in six figures again in 2015 as the new generation enjoys twelve full months of sales and the 5-door version and new generation Clubman station wagon keep pulling people to the showrooms.
The A1 will be slightly updated in the beginning of the year, and that could help Audi’s Benjamin break six figures as well, which would be the first time ever after four frustrating straight years between 94.000 and 99.000 sales.
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Alfa Romeo MiTo
Click on any model to see its annual sales from 1997-2013 and monthly sales in 2012, 2013 and 2014, or use the dropdown menu in the top right of this site. Sources: Manufacturers, ANDC, JATO Dynamics.
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