European sales 2017 Premium Midsized segment

Midsized_Premium_car-segment-European-sales-2016_Q2-Mercedes_Benz_C_Class-Audi_A4-BMW_3_seriesSales of premium midsized cars in Europe dip slightly in 2017 with a 2% decline to 694.000 sales, 4,5% of the overall car market, down from 4,7% in 2016. This is a much better performance than that of mainstream midsized cars which are down 13% but both continue to lose volume to crossovers. Segment leader Mercedes-Benz C-Class consolidates its leadership with sales up less than 1% while its two closest rivals show double digit declines. Keep in mind that the C-Class is available in 4 versions: sedan, station wagon, coupe and convertible, while Audi and BMW split up sales of their traditional sedan and wagon versions from the more stylish counterparts. When combining all versions (as displayed in the graph), Audi takes the segment lead from BMW with over 207.000 sales (up from 206.000) vs nearly 194.000 sales (down from 212.000). Audi is boosted by the new generation A5 coupe, convertible and Sportback, up 41% on the outgoing model, although this may cannibalize sales of the regular A4, down 10%. However, that is not enough for the A5 to outsell its rival BMW 4-series, also available as a coupe, convertible and 4-door Gran Coupe. In the fourth quarter the 4-Series outsold the A5 again after the tables had been turned in Q2 and Q3. These 3 German brands now control 83,3% of the segment. However, as one of our readers pointed out a few weeks ago, Audi’s volume comes mostly from the entry-level engine specifications

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

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Best of the rest is Volvo again, although its S60/V60 suffers from a 15% decline as the new generation will arrive in showrooms in 2018. The Swedish players still hold almost a 2-to-1 lead over the next rival, the Alfa Romeo Giulia. In its first full year of sales, the Giulia finished with close to 25.000 sales, not bad for a model that’s only available as a sedan, but also not enough when keeping in mind the ambitious targets Alfa Romeo has set itself. Still, the Giulia comfortably outsells the Jaguar XE, down a harsh 22% (after an even worse -37% in the fourth quarter). This is the XE’s third year of sales and it faces cannibalization from the F-Pace crossover, but if the XE has already passed its peak, it’s way behind on its predecessor from a decade ago X-Type, which peaked at 38.500 sales in 2004 and is generally considered to be a failure. Of course, times were much different then and the segment was about 30% bigger too, so we can’t really compare the performances of these two directly. It doesn’t take away from the disappointing performance of the XE, which sold less than 1.000 units a month in the fourth quarter. The Volkswagen Arteon arrives and lands at #9, this model should be able to outperform its predecessor CC next year, judging from its Q4 performance. Another interesting newcomer here is the Kia Stinger, we don’t have very high expectations of the model in terms of sales, it just doesn’t have the right brand for that, but its qualities will work magic on lifting the Kia brand higher again.

In 2018 the C-Class and IS will be facelifted, and the big news for this year will be the next generations of the 3-Series and S60/V60 plus the arrival of the Tesla Model 3.

Also check out the premium midsized car segment in the US, where Audi is closing the gap with its main rivals and finally becoming a tier-1 luxury brand.

Premium midsized car segment 2017 2016 Change
1 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 176.915 176.038 0%
2 Audi A4 / S4 / RS4 146.006 162.655 -10%
3 BMW 3-series 129.053 144.561 -11%
4 BMW 4-series 64.710 67.983 -5%
5 Audi A5 / S5 / RS5 61.619 43.686 41%
6 Volvo S60/V60 45.335 53.268 -15%
7 Alfa Romeo Giulia 24.679 10.475 136%
8 Jaguar XE 18.999 24.461 -22%
9 Volkswagen Arteon 9.798 0 New
10 DS5 5.738 9.130 -37%
11 Lexus IS 5.649 6.234 -9%
12 Infiniti Q50 1.777 2.698 -34%
13 Lexus RC 1.390 1.815 -23%
14 Kia Stinger 1.143 0 New
15 Volkswagen CC 712 6.750 -89%
15 Infiniti Q60 507 99 412%
Segment total 694.030 709.853 -2%

Click on any model to see its annual sales from 1997-2016 and monthly sales from 2012 to 2016, or use the dropdown menu in the top right of this site.

Car sales statistics are from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

Sources: Manufacturers, ANDC, JATO Dynamics.

  1. Kia is a good brand.


    “it just doesn’t have the right brand for that”

    Should be…

    “On average, Europeans are still too short-sighted and only judge a car by its brand logo”

    1. Sure, it’s a good brand. It’s just not cross-shopped against BMW and Mercedes-Benz, regardless of its qualities. So, then why place it in the premium/luxury segment, you ask? Well, because it’s much more interesting to see how it performs against cars that are technically more similar (RWD, optional 6-cylinder engines, high tech) than the mainstream sedans, and the brand already has the Optima in the mainstream segment.
      I agree with you that US car buyers are more open to other players in the luxury segment besides the Germans, but the Stinger also won’t be a success there in terms of sales volume. Its success should come from pulling up the brand value and showing what the brand is capable of in terms of design, technology and quality.
      I know how you like to criticise premium brands or their buyers, but this is not a thing for just the auto industry: in almost every industry there are low-cost players, mainstream brands and upscale brands, be it in clothing, phones, hair products and even food/restaurants. And in order for a brand to command a price premium over a rival, it needs to offer value to the prospective buyer. This can be in terms of higher quality, more advanced technology, better design but also in terms of image, what the brand says about the buyer. You may find that latter BS, but building a luxury brand takes a long time and requires consistent quality as consumers are not stupid, contrary to what you may think. Great brands can fall down hard if they don’t continue to offer the added value to justify the price premium. There are plenty of examples of former great brands that no longer exist, both within and outside of the automotive industry.
      One point on which I can agree with you for sure is that especially the German luxury brands have expanded their offerings in Europe downwards in recent years, not only with smaller models but also with lower-spec versions of their larger models. One could argue if a 3-Series with a 116hp diesel engine and no standard cruise control can really be qualified as a luxury car, but as long as buyers are willing to pay a premium for the badge (and the better resale values associated with that badge), then the name premium is perhaps still fitting.

      1. No disagreement about multiple target groups within industries. Supply and demand of course. It’s just fascinating to read expectations/verdicts (“not the right brand”) which are based on psychological factors. People need more time accepting new products made by an existing company than they need for existing products from other existing companies. In a way, this is very weird, because people project their expectations/thoughts onto a new car, not using rational reasoning, but by solely applying emotional reasoning. And most of the time these intangible emotional factors are derived from existing products. So they can’t even analyse a new product without comparison. There is nothing wrong with this, heck, it’s human. People compare everything. But humans are also capable of introspection. Sometimes they could use more time and look beyond the same train of thought. That’s why I responded, because when reading the article I was waiting for a sentence like “we don’t have very high expectations of the Stinger in terms of sales, it just doesn’t have the right brand for that, but its qualities will work magic on lifting the Kia brand higher again.”
        For me, it shows you know the European consumer/market and at the same time you’re stating what almost every other car blogger/journalist does in a split second. At the end of the day, you are part of the automotive media. Maybe I was hoping for a more different and positive approach instead of the usual. In your own words you’re saying the Stinger has enough qualities. Why can’t it be a success then? Kia doesn’t have any history with such a car so in terms of sales they probably will be successful. Especially because the Stinger needs to attract other people as well who may leave the dealership with an Optima or Sorento.
        In my opinion, the Kia Stinger should be named ‘2018 European Car of the Year’ in a couple of weeks. It’s about time journalists from all over Europe think outside of their old box and acknowledge the maturity and quality of this amazing Kia. Wouldn’t bet on it though.
        As for ‘premium’, it’s the most abused term in the industry. Car companies just want to earn more money per car. I know it works and they all do it, even within companies. This doesn’t change the fact they are fooling the customer. Luxury brands ask higher prices for cars with less equipment compared with mainstream cars. The only way to really buy a luxury car these days is to pay even more. Some Audis which cost tens of thousands of euros still don’t offer standard climate control/cruise control. This goes for advanced technology (e.g. active safety systems) as well. Not to mention the internal/external relationships with other cars in terms of engines, platforms, materials and so on.
        Since customers are fooling themselves (e.g. “I drive a BMW/MB, it must be better than a Kia in every way”), a vicious circle makes it even easier for ‘premium’ brands. They automatically get more room to fool even more. I hope people are aware of this otherwise we, the car buyers, are just playful monkeys (not breathing in diesel fumes…) in the eyes of the car companies.

      2. Thanks for keeping the discussion going. We actually seem to agree on most points 🙂
        For anyone with even the slightest interest in cars, I think cars are one of the most emotional purchases they make, even though it’s also in most cases one of the most expensive one. That’s what makes this industry so interesting in my opinion and also why most of you are reading these articles. We’re passionate about them, and about our favorite brands and in my case about the industry as a whole.
        I think I should have elaborated a bit more on the Stinger in my article, because we seem to be on the same page. With “we don’t have very high expectations of the model in terms of sales” I mean that I don’t expect it to come anywhere near the volume of the established players (say the current top-9). And it isn’t intended to by Kia. This model’s purpose is not to set this segment on fire, but it’s a great match to start that fire. The Stinger is solely intended to show how far the Kia brand has come and that it is able to compete on an equal level with the Germans, when purely looking at rational facts and figures but even emotional criteria like fun-to-drive and presence as Tuga mentioned in his comment. But those are not the only things buyers (or in this segment I should probably say leasers) consider when choosing their next car.
        This is a highly competitive segment where the Germans are very dominant and even strong products from established brands like Jaguar and Alfa Romeo struggle to gain a foothold. But the biggest threat to the Stinger is not the fight against other luxury sports sedans, as this is a shrinking market anyway. The biggest issue holding it back from selling thousands a month is simple: crossovers. The sedan segment will be stable at best but crossovers is where the real growth is, and more importantly for Kia: crossover buyers are not (yet) as dedicated to the German brands and are more open to try out challengers.
        However, I still think having a credible and competitive sports sedan first still helps to boost a brand more than a luxury crossover does. This is also why Alfa Romeo chose to launch the Giulia first and then the Stelvio. So let’s hope Kia will soon follow the Stinger up with an X3 rival.

  2. High hopes for Volvo, new V60 looks amazing and since most of the Volvos are sold as estates it should help lift the sales quite nicely, if it doesn’t land at the end of the year though.

  3. @Blaz The new V60 does look great, just hope that Volvo doesn’t go crazy with the pricing. If they get that right they might actually have a massive hit in their hands.
    The XE ( and the XF too ) need to be rethought and have serious restylings. Jags aren’t supposed to look boring, and the interiors especially are seriously behind the competition ( and, again, boring ). There’s nothing wrong with how they drive, reliability has improved, but they just don’t seem to be JAAAAGS anymore, unlike the F-Pace and the I-Pace, who look amazing ( at least on the outside ).
    They should also consider making the Chinese LWB versions of the sedans standard in Europe.
    The Stinger looks great. Seen a few on the road, and boy does that thing got presence!

    1. I’m looking at prices of XC40 and it seems to be better equipped then X1 for a bit less money, same goes for XC60 vs new X3 so I think they know what they are doing in terms of pricing, I would love to see them succeed.

      As for Stinger, nice car but in terms of price is very close to established premium brands. If they plan to be serious about premium it mighe be better to bring Genessis brand to Europe, selling basic Rio and Picanto will never bring you up to a premium player, no matter how good car you have on the high end. VW learned that with Pheaton and I think Arteon is going the same direction.
      Jaguar seems to be a bit lost with their limousines ineed, previous XF was fresh wind but new one was just to little of change.

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