Sales of midsized premium SUVs in Europe continue to grow in 2018, but at a lower rate than before. After four consecutive years of double digit growth, of which the last three years showed at least 20% growth, the segment was up “only” 5% in 2018. This still means that for the first time ever, over half a million luxury midsized crossovers were sold in Europe. And after claiming the segment lead last year, the Mercedes-Benz GLC consolidates its lead with a 13% gain to over 125.000 sales, almost one in every four sales in this segment. Please note that these figures include sales of the GLC Coupe, but even without those the GLC would easily top the ranking. Just imagine the sales volume (and turnover) Mercedes-Benz has missed by completely failing with the design of its predecessor GLK, which peaked at just 33.000 sales and 15% of the segment in 2012. The Volvo XC60 is down 19% in the first full year of sales for the new generation, and this is mostly due to the strong finish of the previous generation, which even continued to be sold alongside the new model in its home market Sweden. Despite sales back to its 2016 level but its market share thawed to the lowest in at least 7 years, the XC60 still holds on to its #2 spot ahead of the Audi Q5, which sees stable sales in 2018, as it also did in 2017. The Q5 has been around 70.000 annual sales for three years now, even during the changeover to the next generation and last year’s introduction of the WLTP fuel efficiency testing procedures, which meant some versions of the Q5 (and many other models) could no longer be sold after September 1st, 2018.
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 BMW X3 has been renewed as well and has plenty of potential to jump on the segment podium in 2019. In fact, the X3 already outsold the Q5 in each of the last four months of the year, when the Q5 was more hampered by the WLTP standards than other models in this class. These top-4 players hold a combined share of 65,5% of the segment, with the rest following at a distance. The #5 player sells just over half the volume of the X3. The Land Rover Discovery Sport is down 23%, as it is due for some major updates now that it’s sibling Range Rover Evoque has been renewed as well. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio improves to over 30.000 sales even though it too was caught off-guard with the WLTP regulations and suffered in the last four months of the year. At least it finished the year ahead of the Range Rover Velar. The Jaguar F-Pace was affected by the arrival of that Velar as well as the smaller E-Pace, with sales down a harsh 24% and barely ahead of the Lexus NX, which continues to improve steadily every year since its launch. The Porsche Macan is down 27% due to a combination of WLTP struggles and the launch of the facelifted version. Porsche announced that the second generation of the Macan, due in a couple of years, will become an EV with no longer the option of gasoline or diesel engines. The BMW X4 was renewed in 2018 and sales were up in the last quarter but that wasn’t enough for a positive result for the full year. The X4 is now the least popular model in the segment, with only the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace behind, a model that didn’t start customer deliveries until the second half of the year.
In 2019 we’ll welcome the Mercedes-Benz EQC as a rival to the I-Pace, and the brand will also update the GLC. We will also find the second generation Discovery Sport in showrooms, which will be built on a platform that is prepared for (plug-in) hybrid technology. The new Infiniti QX50 may also arrive on this side of the Atlantic in 2019.
One segment smaller, sales continue to rise even faster at +20% to 546.000 units, which means that for the first time ever, the premium compact crossover segment is larger than that of the premium midsized crossovers. We combined these segments in one analysis when there were only three players in this smaller class. Now there are 11, with more on the way. Regardless, the BMW X1 is still the class leader despite a 6% drop in sales. It still holds over 20% of the class, despite the addition of the X2 which lands at #8. The X2 also helps BMW claim the lead of the segment as a brand, with nearly 148.000 sales compared to Audi’s 136.000 sales of the Q2 and Q3 combined. Audi may strike back in 2019 when it adds the Q4 to its line-up. For now, the Audi Q2 is in second place with sales down 4%, ahead of the Mercedes-Benz GLA with stable sales. Mercedes will bring an all-new GLA in 2019 and will add a more square and rugged GLB as well, to diversify its offerings in this segment. The Audi Q3 is down by almost a quarter in 2018 as the second generation was just around the corner. It finishes just ahead of the Mini Countryman, up 20%, and hte Volvo XC40 which lands at #6 but still has plenty of upward potential. The Range Rover Evoque has struggled in 2018 as well, as the new generation has only just been launched. The Jaguar E-Pace lands at #9 with about 5% of the segment, similar to its larger brother F-Pace. The DS7 Crossback sells over 18.500 copies in its first year of sales, which is not bad for a brand that was considered all but dead before this crossover arrived. The Infiniti QX30 is a complete flop, as its hatchback version Q30 is as well.
In 2019 the second generations of the Q3 and Evoque will reach their full potential, as mentioned Mercedes will bring a new generation GLA and will add a GLB, and Audi will expand its line-up with the Q4 to compete head-on with the X2. Lexus will enter the segment with the UX with its polarizing design and DS will start deliveries of the DS3 Crossback, a size smaller than the DS7 Crossback which is a bit of an in-between size. Oh, and perhaps Cadillac will ship a handful of units of the XT4 our way.
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