The midsized premium car segment in Europe shrinks for the second consecutive year in 2019, and does so by 16% to fewer than 600.000 sales or 3,8% of the overall market. That is a comparable trend to the non-luxury midsized segment, which is down 17% for the year. All top-5 players lose sales volume by 15% or more, with just the segment leader doing less terrible than the average of the class. That means the Mercedes-Benz C-Class consolidates its top spot and now has a 25,9% share, while the Audi A4 falls below 20% share. The A4 was hit especially hard in the last four months of the year, after the WLTP fuel efficiency testing standards kicked in and the brand had to stop sales of a number of popular versions of the A4, among others. Until August, A4 sales were stable on 2017, but from September onwards, the model’s average monthly sales dropped to just 30% of the average in the eight months before. In those last four months, the A4 lost almost 30.000 sales on the year before, while the C-Class lost 5.000 sales in the same period and the BMW 3-series lost 7.000 sales. With a new 3-Series in showrooms this year and Audi’s continued struggles to get the A4 tested under the new rules, there’s a significant chance of a different podium in 2019.
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 4-series and Audi A5 both lose 19% of their 2017 sales figures while the Volvo S60/V60 is surprisingly stable at +4% in a changeover year. As a result, the Swede improves its share of the segment from 6,5% to 8% just when the new V60 station wagon arrived in showrooms in the second half of the year. The S60 sedan will start sales early 2019 and sales slowed to just 5.500 in 2018, less than half its 2014 figure. Undoubtedly, Volvo will increase its share of the segment further in 2019 with both the sedan and station wagon in full force. The Volkswagen Arteon ends its first full year of sales ahead of the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE, both of which see their sales plummet. The former also was impaced by the WLTP standards, with more than half of its annual loss coming from the last four months of the year, while the XE just failed evenly over the course of the entire year. The Lexus IS gains a bit of market share thanks to a loss of just 4% but remains a marginal player with less than 1% share, with even the Kia Stinger finishing its first full year of sales surprisingly close to the top-10.
When looking at brand sales to balance off the fact that Mercedes-Benz sells a coupe and convertible under the same C-Class name whereas Audi and BMW use different names,, Audi still sells the most midsized luxury cars at over 162.000 sales of the A4 and A5 combined, but loses the most at -22%. That allows BMW to close the gap to just 3.000 sales, with 159.000 combined sales for the 3-Series and 4-Series, down 18%. Mercedes-Benz is still third with 151.000 sales of the C-Class, down 15%.
In 2019 we’ll welcome the new S60 and the station wagon version of the new 3-Series. With the update of that nameplate finished, BMW will follow up with a renewed 4-Series, while killing off the 3-Series GT. Tesla will start deliveries of the Model 3 in Europe, and we expect facelifts for the Audi A4, Jaguar XE and Lexus RC plus some technical updates for the Giulia.
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