Sales in the premium large SUV segment rebounds in 2014 at +11% on its worst year since 2002 and is already back at the level of 2011 and 2012, and above 2009 and 2010. With a slew of new models hitting showrooms this year, a return to 250.000 annual sales may be within reach for 2016.
When excluding the biggest gainer and new segment champion BMW X5, the rest of the segment has actually lost ground, at -1,5%. As a result, the new generation X5 not only reclaims the segment top spot, it more than doubles its share of the segment to 20%, or one in every five sales. The 2013 leader Mercedes-Benz M-Class is even pushed down into third place by the Range Rover Sport, as the M-Class has been awaiting its facelift and renaming to GLE 2016. But first, Mercedes-Benz will introduce a coupe version of the GLE to compete with the BMW X6 in Q2 of 2015. The Range Rover Sport actually improves on its previous sales record of 2006 thanks to the new generation shedding more than 400 kilograms of weight as it’s no longer a body-on-frame SUV but a unibody crossover like almost all others in this segment.
The recently updated Volkswagen Touareg manages to stabilize, no longer losing sales, but at +6% growing slower than the overalls segment and down from second place to fourth. After moving up to third place in 2013, the Porsche Cayenne is down a harsh 27% to 6th place, possibly due to cannibalization from the Macan. The Cayenne was even outsold by the Jeep Grand Cherokee for the first time since 2007. The Grand Cherokee has increased its European sales for the fourth consecutive year as its new generation is benefiting from increased interest in the brand and increased showroom traffic thanks to the smaller Cherokee and Renegade models.
The Range Rover enjoys its best sales in a decade for the same reasons as the RR Sport, while the ancient Land Rover Discovery has been stable between 10.000 and 12.400 for seven years now, but no immediate signs of a replacement as the company has just launched the smaller Discovery Sport and will now focus on a replacement to the even older Defender.
Behind the Disco are two models that will be replaced this year after each having served for a decade or more. First Volvo will start deliveries of the XC90, for which it already had 16.000 signed orders in the second week of February, of which the T8 Twin Engine 4-cylinder Plug-in hybrid takes the lion’s share. Then in the second half of the year, Audi dealers will get the all-new Q7, which has shed more than 300 kilograms of weight.
The new generation BMW X6 is taking a head start on its new rival GLE Coupe, as it’s already in showrooms a few months ahead of the similarly lined Benz. After five straight years of declining sales, the X6 should be able to recover in 2015, despite the increased competition.
The Lexus RX will feel some cannibalization from the slightly smaller NX, and it already loses a full percentage point of share in the segment, at -22%.
Later this year, Maserati will join the segment with its first-ever SUV, the Levante, while those who are interested in Bentley’s SUV, the Bentayga will need to be patient until next year. To make sure the ultra-luxury Bentayga won’t arrive uncontested, Mercedes-Benz is working on a Maybach version of its GL.
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