The midsized premium car segment has rebounded from its lowest figure in a few decades, increasing a modest 5% thanks to a handful of new and redesigned models. 4 out of the 9 models that haven’t been discontinued lose sales, with the biggest hit taken by the segment leader BMW 3-series, after peaking at over 200.000 sales for the first time since 2008. There are two major reasons for the sharp drop in 3-series deliveries; one is the renaming of the model’s coupe and convertible versions to 4-series, as combined sales of the 3 and 4 are still up on 2013. The second reason is the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, up 13% but that’s still the nameplate’s second lowest figure since its introduction two decades ago.
Pushed down by the C-Class into third place, and hitting its lowest sales since its introduction as well, the Audi A4 is still surprisingly stable for a model that’s due to be replaced soon, at just -3%. With the new generation ready to reach showrooms in the middle of the year, the A4 should be able to rebound in 2015.
The Volvo S60 and V60 manage to hold on to fourth place, thanks to their facelift and Volvo’s new generation of fuel efficient 4-cylinder engines. The share of the V60 D6 AWD, Europe’s only Plug-In diesel hybrid, falls from 17,2% to less than 12% of total V60 sales.
The Audi A5, celebrating its 8th anniversary, drops for the fourth consecutive year, but at -7% the decline has slowed when compared to a 20% drop in 2013. The 4-series and A5 will get some extra competition in 2016 when the Lexus RC-300h reaches showrooms.
The two Asian competitors in the segment have been redesigned in 2013 and 2014 to offer a more aggressive design language to set themselves apart from the sleek and subtle shapes of the European competition. And although they still remain stuck below a combined 2% share of the segment, their designs certainly seem to resonate with European buyers, as the Lexus IS hits its highest volume since 2008, while the Infiniti Q50 sells more than 6 times as many cars as its previous best year.
2015 marks the introduction of 2 important new rear-wheel drive models into the premium midsized segment: the Jaguar XE and the return of Alfa Romeo with the Giulia. The XE has already been launched at the Paris Motor show and will hit showrooms in Q2. Sales projections of 30.000 units a year in Europe would set it at a modest but attainable 7th place. The Giulia will be revealed in June and deliveries should start by the end of the year. It will be the first all-new Alfa Romeo since the Giulietta in 2010, excluding the low-volume 4C.
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