The compact premium segment keeps going up, and even accelerating its growth rate from 3% in 2014 to 11% in Q1 of 2015, mostly thanks to the successful introduction of a new model line: the 2-series from BMW. This is in line with the 10% growth of the mainstream compact car segment.
The Audi A3 keeps its first place of the segment and even cements it by adding another 8% to its sales of last year, while its nearest competitors both lose sales. With a more than 22.000 unit advantage over the BMW 1-series, the A3 is already virtually guaranteed to lead the segment until the end of the year, even as the facelifted 1-series hits showrooms in the second quarter.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class seems to have peaked at its third place of the segment, possibly cannibalized by the introduction of the GLA small premium crossover and the Shooting Brake station wagon version of the CLA.
As mentioned above, the BMW 2-series makes a thunderous entry into the segment, moving into fourth place with over 22.000 sales in the first quarter. Mind you, this figure includes the rear-wheel drive 2-series coupe and recently launched convertible, as well as the front-wheel drive 2-series Active Tourer MPV. Later this year BMW will also add a 7-seater version of the MPV, named Gran Tourer, which looks like a 1-series carrying an enormous 1-grader’s backback. Nonetheless, it should help push BMW’s MPV sales ahead of its rival Mercedes-Benz B-Class and make BMW the best selling brand of compact premium cars.
The Volvo V40 continues to improve, even in its third full year of sales, and even outsold the B-Class in March, giving it a shot to move up another spot by the end of the year. These sales include the V40 Cross Country, which features a higher ground clearance and a roughed-up exterior to make up for Volvo’s lack of a true compact crossover until the XC40 arrives.
In the electrification-race, the BMW i3 finishes the first quarter ahead of the Lexus CT, despite the Japanese hatchback outselling its German carbon-fiber rival in both January and March. It will be interesting to keep an eye on until the end of the year, but keep in mind that sales of the i3 are restricted more by supply than by demand.
After retaking its crown of the small premium segment in the final days of last year, the new generation Mini storms ahead of the pack this year, almost doubling the sales of its predecessor in the first quarter of last year, undoubtedly helped by the addition of the five-door version. Being the only model in positive territory, the Mini now commands a share of almost 47% of the segment.
Until last year, the Audi A1 has been surprisingly stable, but it’s now down a painful 21%, and the DS3 follows suit with a loss of 15%. Both models have just been facelifted and may slow their decline, but the exterior updates of both are only minor and won’t be enough to be able to threaten the Mini in any way.
The Alfa Romeo MiTo is hit the harshest, and considering the Italians have revealed no plans for its replacement, sales will continue to sink until it will be put out of its misery, probably around the same time its platform-mate the Fiat Punto is killed in favor of the 500 five-door.
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