Sales of midsized cars in Europe have declined by double digits in 2018 for the second consecutive year, after a sharp rebound in 2015 and stable sales in 2016. The segment which sold nearly 1 million units as recently as 10 years ago is now down to its lowest volume ever at less than half that volume. At just 450.000 sales, mainstream midsized cars now account for less than 3% of the European market, down from 3,5% in 2017 and from 6,9% in 2007. Only one nameplate in the segment has been able to add volume last year and only two saw single digit declines with the remaining players in double digit decline. Segment leader Volkswagen Passat did only slightly better than the rest of the segment at -16% to increase its share to 34,2% of the segment. Its platform sibling Skoda Superb holds on to 2nd place which means that a VW-Skoda duo finishes on top of the annual ranking in both the compact and midsized segments for the second consecutive year, and that VW Group now sells more than one of every two midsized cars sold in Europe, with these two models. The Opel/Vauxhall Insignia is the only model to even come close to the dominant players, and it was just 3.000 sales behind the Superb at the end of August, with sales up 25%. But then came the new WLTP fuel efficiency testing standards, and sales of the Insignia collapsed as in Q4 the model sold just half of what it sold in the same period of 2017, and it ended 2018 with a 7% loss. At least that means it improved its share of the segment to 15%.
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
The Ford Mondeo drops to its second lowest ever annual sales volume, after 2014, losing by double digits for the third consecutive year. The Mazda6 jumps two places to enter the top-5, the highest ranking it has ever held in the segment in Europe. And it all has to do with the demise of the Renault Talisman and Toyota Avensis. The Frenchman has struggled in the last four months of the year when it sold an average of less than 1.000 cars a month due to the WLTP, while the Avensis will soon be pulled from the market to be replaced by the Camry Hybrid. The Kia Optima moves up one spot as the Peugeot 508 loses more than 38% of its sales for the second straight year, as the new generation is just arriving in showrooms. Its design has been praised by the press, but will it be enough for the French brand to lure consumers out of their crossovers and back into sedans (and station wagons), or even to recover the lost share of the declining segment after all these years of mediocre offerings?
Besides this new generation 508 and the return of the Camry, we will also see the return of the Hyundai Sonata, as for Hyundai too it’s no longer viable to develop and produce a stand alone model almost exclusively for the European market now that the segment has shrunk so dramatically. Subaru is launching a new Legacy and Outback, hoping to carve out more than just a niche in Europe with the new generation.
Also check out the midsized car segment in the US, which is down by double digits as well and which is dominated by 3 Japanese players while the VW Passat is just in 9th place.
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