The premium large car segment in Europe picks up momentum in Q3 of 2017 with a 19% increase to over 100.000 sales, leading to an 11% sales gain in the first nine months of the year, to nearly 319.000 sales. The segment is consolidating towards as only one nameplate in the top-5 shows a year-over-year loss, while all models outside of those 5 best sellers lose volume with double digits. In the third quarter the all-new BMW 5-series took the segment top spot with a gain of 61% to nearly 31.000 sales, just ahead of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class with 30.000 sales (up 24%), but the E-Class holds on to its top spot for the year. Keep in mind, the E-Class includes coupe and convertible versions, which the other models don’t have, and these two-door versions are still pretty fresh so could be responsible for most of the growth of the nameplate, together with the also still recent station wagon. In terms of pure sedan and wagon sales, the 5-Series is probably already in the lead this year. These two leave the Audi A6 far behind, down 16% in the third quarter to less than 19.000 sales. Remember the A6 was the segment leader as recently as 2015, before its rivals were renewed. It will have a new shot at the title in 2019 as its next generation will hit showrooms in the second half of next year. So far in 2017, these three German models account for more than three out of every four sales in this segment, up three percentage points from last year.
With over 10.000 sales in the third quarter, the Volvo S90/V90 is closing in on the A6 but is so far unable to break the German domination. Still, Volvo gains market share compared to the S80/V70/XC70 and its new models prove worthy competitors. The all-electric Tesla Model S continues to improve with a gain of 31% in Q3 to over 4.000 sales, which means it’s now ahead of the Jaguar XF in the year-to-date ranking. The XF loses 30% as the new generation is being criticised for its lack of new design and inferior quality of the interior, which means the brand will bring an extensive update for the 2018 model year, and the return of the XF Sportbrake station wagon should give the model a substantial boost as well. The German coupe and 4-door coupe models are all in the final stages of their current life cycle and are down harshly before being renewed in the upcoming months. The Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS both lose around 40% while the BMW 6-series is down by “just” 19% in the third quarter, and all 3 lose more than 30% of their volume year-to-date. The Maserati Ghibli is unable to take advantage of those declines as it is down by 29% in Q3 as well.
Mercedes-Benz has just revealed its third generation CLS, BMW will bring a new generation of the 6-Series coupe, convertible and Gran Coupe, and will rename the new 5-Series Gran Turismo to 6-Series Gran Turismo. Finally, Audi is ready to launch the 2nd generation A7 in 2018, followed by the 5th generation A6.
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