While the mainstream midsized car segment has just returned to positive territory, the midsized premium segment maintains its upward curve and even accelerates its growth, from 5% in 2014 to 7% in Q1 of this year.
This growth can be fully attributed to the all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which increases by 45% to take the top spot of the segment for the first time since 2011. The C-Class now holds a 27,5% share of the segment, which is still less dominant than its direct competitor, the BMW 3-series, in Q1 of last year, when that model held over 30% share.
The 3-series is down a rough 21%, and that’s not only because the coupe and convertible models have been renamed BMW 4-series, because combined 3-series and 4-series sales are still down on the first quarter of last year. The increased competition from Mercedes-Benz seems a more likely explanation, and BMW won’t be able to lose focus, with the all-new Audi A4 also finally arriving in showrooms in the next couple of months. A minor facelift of the 3-series won’t be enough to keep the model ahead.
Even with the outgoing model in sell-out mode, Audi is able to keep demand for the A4 surprisingly stable, which means it’s not too far behind the 3-series after the first three months. This leaves Audi in an excellent position to bump BMW off the segment’s second place as well, moving the A4 up another notch. Like the A4, the Audi A5 is also relatively stable at -2%, despite starting to show its age.
The A5 is still unable to pass the Volvo S60 and V60, which also very stable in fifth place, with sales down just 4%, with the S60 sedan swallowing all the losses and the V60 actually up by a few units. As a result, more than 80% of Volvo’s midsized sales are now station wagons. Perhaps the upcoming S60XC with higher ground clearance and a more rugged look is able to attract more Volvo buyers into a sedan again.
The segment is likely to get another boost when the all-new Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE arrive later this year, with the latter expected to arrive in showrooms any moment, while the Giulia will be introduced shortly and will be available in the second half of 2015.
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