In an overall market up 6,2%, the premium compact car segment in Europe grows 8% in 2016, to top 900.000 annual sales for the first time ever. Growth slowed down a bit in the last quarter, when the segment grew by just 2%. Segment leader Audi A3 sees its sales fall by 4%, but still comfortably leads the segment if we’d only look at nameplates. This is relevant to mention, because Audi only has one nameplate in this segment, under which it sells four different bodystyles: 3-door and 5-door hatchbacks, a sedan and a convertible. Its main rivals have at least 3 different nameplates each in this segment, and if we’d look at total brand volume, Mercedes-Benz would be ahead of BMW by the tiniest of margins (281.348 vs 281.249), both selling Audi by more than 90.000 sales. Then again, Audi also has a smaller model, as you’ll see below, and this A1 coincidentally sells enough units to put Audi back on top by just 5.000 sales (286.532 units).
Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off
Mercedes-Benz takes 2nd place in the models ranking with the A-Class hatchback leapfrogging the BMW 1-series hatchback, as both were facelifted this year, but the BMW had stable sales while the A-Class surged 19%. BMW also sold just over 100.000 MPVs to take 4th place with the 2-Series Active and Gran Tourer, comfortably ahead of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, which is only available in one size (5-seater). In between those two MPVs we find the best non-German of the segment: the Volvo V40 hatchback, which also has just been facelifted but sees its volume drop 7%. Mercedes-Benz’ third model keeps 7th place, as the CLA sedan and station wagon improve 6%. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is stable, also helped by a facelift this year, and it holds on to its 8th place, although the Giulietta was down 11,6% in Q4 when it also was outsold by the new generation Mini Clubman. Mini’s station wagon has grown significantly in size and now competes with the “big boys” and it doesn’t do so all that bad with an 8th place in the last quarter.
The DS4 has stable sales on 2015, but this hides an abysmal performance in Q4 when it lost more than 29% of its volume. The DS4 was up 11% until Q3. The BMW i3 is helped by Germany’s EV subsidy to improve 27% for the year ant +40% in Q4, when it outsold the DS4 by 2.400 units. Newcomer Infiniti Q30 becomes the first Infiniti to outsell its direct rival from Lexus, but its volume is nonetheless a huge disappointment for the Japanese brand, which has capacity to build 60.000 annual units of the Q30 hatchback and QX30 crossover (same model, only higher ground clearance) in the UK, of which half was supposed to be sold in Europe, so less then 600 a month in Q4 isn’t going to cut it, especially considering the QX30 sells even much less.
One segment smaller, sales are down 1% for the year and down 6% in Q4, as only one model improves sales: the aforementioned Audi A1, whose sales are actually amazingly stable over the course of its life cycle: since its launch in the 2nd half of 2010, the A1 has consistently sold between 90.000 and 100.000 annual units for 6 years in a row. Mini has stable sales of its 3-door, 5-door and convertible models and maintains a comfortable lead. The DS3 is getting a bit long in the tooth now, despite its facelift last year, and is down 15% for the year and down 35% in Q4. Speaking of long in the tooth: who remembered Alfa Romeo still sells the MiTo? At least 13.000 people still do, apparantly. That’s how many were sold in 2016, down only 6% on 2015. Surprisingly, the MiTo increased its sales 11% in the fourth quarter, making it the only model in the segment with double digit growth in Q4, as the Mini was stable and the other two lost volume.
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