After five years of domination, the Audi A3 is no longer the best selling compact car from a luxury brand in Europe. In 2018, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class topped the charts for the very first time, as the overall segment shrank for the second year in a row, to below 800.000 sales, 5,2% of the entire European car market. The A-Class, helped by the introduction of the fourth generation, gained 7% to set the nameplate’s highest annual sales figure since 2005 at over 150.000 sales. The A3 lost 13% of its sales while the BMW 1-series was down 7% and was stuck in third place. Just off the podium we find two MPV models, of which the BMW 2-series Active/Gran Tourer is still the best seller despite losing 20% of its sales, as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class is down just 6%. The Mercedes-Benz CLA is down 9% which means it maintains is share of the segment, despite slowly starting to age.
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 Volvo V40 feels cannibalization from its new crossover sibling XC40 and loses a fifth of its sales volume, dropping 2 places in the ranking. The BMW 2-series Coupe & Convertible are the best performers of the segment in 2018 with an 18% gain, now outselling the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and the Mini Clubman. These two are even under threat from the BMW i3 which sees its sales increase by 15% to its best ever annual volume. When combining all models of each brand in this class, Mercedes-Benz holds on to the segment lead with flat sales at around 273.000, while BMW sales are down 7% to just over 255.000 and Audi is down 13% with its single model.
There’s quite a lot of news in this segment for 2019, as we’ll welcome new generations of the A3 and 1-Series, which for the first time will conform to the segment standard and become a front-wheel drive car, and Volvo will bring an all-new V40. The renewed B-Class will be in showrooms, and Mercedes will bring the sedan version of the A-Class to Europe but at the same time launch a second generation of the CLA, which will shift a bit upmarket and will become even more coupe-like to distinguish itself from the A-Class sedan.
Sales of small premium cars are down for the third consecutive year, and at increasing pace with a 12% loss in 2018. That doesn’t seem to affect the Mini (including the 2-door, four-door and convertible versions), as sales of the British modern classic are stable at around 135.000 per year. The Mini therefore improves its share of the segment to 47,7% as all other players see double digit declines. The redesigned Audi A1 loses 14% and seems unable to return Audi’s Benjamin to near 100.000 annual sales as it was for six consecutive years from 2011 till 2016. The Lancia Ypsilon soldiers on as the brand’s single remaining model, sold in a single market. However, the Ypsilon rebounded with a 14% gain in Q4 after especially big losses in Q1 and Q3. The final 2 models in this segment are on the chopping block, with the DS3 replaced by a small crossover in 2019 and the Alfa Romeo MiTo will finally be taken out of its suffering.
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