Sales of midsized premium SUVs remain in booming growth mode in the first quarter of 2017, with an increase of 27% to 142.000 sales. The overall market is up just 7,8% in the same period. All but one remaining nameplate in the segment grow their volume, but the biggest gainer also takes the top spot for the first time ever. The Mercedes-Benz GLC has quickly helped to forget its unsuccessful predecessor GLK and has stormed the ranking to levels never achieved by the brand in this segment. But there’s a sidenote to its achievement, as we only have combined sales figures which include the GLC Coupe version, whereas BMW splits out these versions into the X3 and X4. Without the GLC Coupe included, the Volvo XC60 would still be in the segment lead. Nonetheless, a #2 spot for the already 9-year old model whose successor has already been revealed is very impressive whichever way you look at it. With the new generation in showrooms within the next few months, Volvo should be able to keep challenging for the lead the rest of this year.
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Also not the youngest model of the segment anymore, the Range Rover Evoque gains only 6% but remains on the podium, ahead of the all-new Audi Q5, which only improves 10% as the outgoing version was surprisingly stable in the winter of its career last year, very similar to the XC60 this year. The Land Rover Discovery Sport, the only model in its class with optional 7-seat capacity, holds on to 5th place, as the BMW X3 is the only loser of the segment with sales down 10% and a loss of 3 percentage points of share. That means the Jaguar F-Pace has been able to close in, as it already clearly outsells the Porsche Macan. The BMW X4 is stable and the Lexus NX continues to improve. Finally, we welcome the Alfa Romeo Stelvio with over 1.000 sales in its very first month of sales. Potentially, the Stelvio should be able to reach similar volumes as the F-Pace, so we’ll keep an eye on its progress in coming months.
Later this year the new generation XC60 will enter showrooms, which will take a few design cues from the larger XC90, and BMW will launch the new generation X3.
One segment smaller, sales are rising even faster, at +34% to almost 100.000 units. The segment leader in 2016 BMW X1 adds more than half to its volume to extends its lead, but Audi is now the best selling brand in this segment thanks to the addition of a second model. The Audi Q2 already outsold its sibling Q3 in February and March and looks set to grab 2nd place within the next two months. And cannibalization on the Q3 is relatively limited, as the latter is down by only 13%. Even though that translates to a loss of 12 percentage points of share, the combined share of the two models is still significantly up. The Q2 is only slightly shorter than the Q3, but is wider and costs significantly less, so that explains part of its popularity. This will encourage Audi to continue to expand its line-up of Q-models and will undoubtedly inspire its two rivals into similar strategies.
The Mercedes-Benz GLA is kicked off the podium with sales down 10%, as this is clearly the least crossover-like and most hatchback-like model of the segment, together with its platform sibling Infiniti QX30, which struggles to sell even 200 units a month in all of Europe. The Mini Countryman is the biggest loser of the segment as the new generation was not yet fully available in the first quarter. As the year progresses, the Countryman will catch up and may even threaten the GLA is that model continues to struggle. A facelift of the GLA is expected later this year and BMW will launch the X2 as a coupe-like version of the X1 to compete with the Q2. The biggest news will be that Volvo will also enter the segment with the XC40, built on its all-new small car platform.
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