The midsized premium SUV segment continues to outgrow the overall market and even accelerates its growth rate with a 29% increase in Q3 and a 25% increase in the first nine months of 2017, to over 372.000 sales. The two segment leaders consolidate their grip on the segment as both did better than the overall segment. As a result, the #1 and #2 hold a combined 43% of the segment in Q3 and 42,6% in the first three quarters. The big winner is the Mercedes-Benz GLC (including the Coupe version) wiht sales almost doubling up to over 30.000 sales in the third quarter, which allows it to take over the year-to-date lead of the segment. If the GLC manages to hold on to this position by the end of the year, it will be the first time ever that Mercedese-Benz tops the ranking of this segment. The GLC’s predecessor GLK has never been a success due to polarizing styling, but the new model appears to have hit the mark. The Volvo XC60 showed double digit growth but still loses its top spot as the changeover to the new generation is hurting its pace of deliveries, even though the outgoing model has kept up strong in its last months thanks to competitive pricing of fully loaded versions. It will be interesting to see which one of these two will end up on top in 2018. Or perhaps the segment initiator BMW X3 will mingle into this fight as well when its third generation hits full steam?
For now, the Audi Q5 holds the final spot of the segment podium with sales up 13% in Q3 thanks to the new generation. The Land Rover Discovery Sport is outsold by the X3 in the third quarter, but its 3.100 unit lead over its German rival should be enough to hold on to 4th place until the end of the year, especially since the BMW will suffer from its model changeover with the new generation in showrooms as we type, but there’s always a delay for customer deliveries to get up to speed. The Discovery Sport is not expected to feel much cannibalization from its new sibling Range Rover Velar, as the latter is much more expensive and caters to an entirely different type of customer, being the stylish of the two vs. the Disco’s practicality of 7-seat capacity. The Velar sold about half the volume of its sibling in its first quarter of sales, which is actually pretty impressive, almost on par with the BMW X4 and only 1.000 sales off the Porsche Macan, both Germans down by about 13% in Q3.
The third JLR model in this segment is the Jaguar F-Pace, down 6% in Q3, but comfortably in 6th place. The Lexus NX improves 17% in the third quarter but was outsold by the Alfa Romeo Stelvio although its year-to-date advantage is too large to close by the end of the year. The Stelvio should be able to improve a bit further and challenge for 7th place together with the Velar. Finally, we also welcome the DS7 Crossback to the segment, although customer deliveries haven’t really started in earnest yet. It will be interesting to see if it can make a mark on this segment. As far as I’ve seen in person and from reviews by people who’re paid to know these things it has the goodies, but does DS have the cachet needed to survive in this competitive segment? Perhaps it would’ve had if it had kept its momentum with model launches and updates, but after 5 years of consecutive declines and no product news, it has fallen into a negative perspective, which means the DS7 needs to be an exceptionally great car to break that downward spiral and put the brand back on the map.
One segment smaller, sales continue to rise even faster, at +31% in the third quarter and +27% in the first nine months to over 340.000 sales. The ranking leader BMW X1 maintains control of the segment with a 21% gain in Q3. The Audi Q2 has outsold its sibling Q3 to claim 2nd place, as Audi remains the best selling brand in the segment with both of its models on the podium and a 35,7% share of the segment with BMW-Mini not far behind with 34,8%. The Q3 was down 14% in the third quarter and was outsold by the Mercedes-Benz GLA but holds on to its podium spot year-to-date. The GLA was up 20% in Q3 and back into the positive year-to-date. It also moves up into 4th place, leapfrogging the Range Rover Evoque, down 16% in the third quarter. Deliveries of the new generation Mini Countryman have picked up traction, which gives the model a 30% boost in Q3 over its predecessor as it came within 1.000 sales of the Evoque. The Countryman is now up for the year so far. The Infiniti QX30 remains utterly invisible.
Jaguar will launch the E-Pace in the last quarter of 2017 and Volvo will follow suit with the XC40. BMW will have the X2 in showrooms as well to challenge Audi for the segment leadership.
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