The premium large car segment in Europe has fallen into a double digit decline in the first half of 2019, with sales down 17% in the second quarter to just under 95.000 sales, after a 13% decline in the first quarter. That leads to a year-to-date decline of 15% to just over 195.000 sales. Only two of the 13 existing models in the class sell more than they did in the same period of 2018, while all the others suffer double digit declines. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class holds its top position with sales down 11% which means it increases its share of the segment to 28,9%. Despite a take rate of 13,9% for the plug-in hybrid version, its nearest rival BMW 5-series loses 19% but still outsold the #3 Audi A6 in the second quarter by nearly 2.000 units. The latter has just been renewed and delivers 15% more vehicles than in Q2 of last year. The A6 adds 6 percentage points of share of the segment, which means these three models now account for 76,5% of all sales in this class. At brand level, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi control 83,3%, up from 77,7% last year. The A6 clearly has a shot at the #2 spot for this year, but is already too far behind the E-Class to reclaim the segment title it last held in 2015. There’s only one caveat to that remark: the E-Class is also available in Coupe and Convertible versions, and sales of those are not split out. Unfortunately we can’t directly compare sales figures of only the sedan and station wagon versions, but the E-Class isn’t as dominant as it seems from these numbers. The Volvo S90/V90 takes a hard hit because of cannibalization from the new S60/V60, which looks very similar to the V90 but is quite a bit more affordable. Sales of the Swedish models are down by 41%, accounting for almost half of the total segment’s decline so far in 2019 and there’s now a significant gap to the top-3.
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 all-new third generation Mercedes-Benz CLS grows its sales by 43% and moves way ahead of its rival Audi A7, which is also still relatively fresh but is already down 10% after a 28% loss in Q2. The big loser in the segment is the Tesla Model S, down 46% and from #5 to #7 as the launch of the Model 3 has cannibalized the brand’s larger sedan. The Jaguar XF lost 35% of its volume in the second quarter after improving by 3% in the first quarter. It was outsold by the BMW 6-series in Q2, even though this nameplate is now reduced to a single model and sales are down 46% for the year. In 10th place we welcome a new player, the Lexus ES which replaces the unsuccessful GS. The ES is based on the front-wheel drive platform of the Toyota Camry which has returned to Europe after a decade long hiatus. It will be interesting to see if the ES will be able to break out of the bottom end of the class, but don’t hold your breath.
Later this year Audi will expand the offerings of the new A6 with the S6, RS6 and Allroad versions. The E-Class will be updated to remain fresh next to the newer 5-Series and A6. And we’ll welcome some all-electric models when the Porsche Taycan and Audi E-Tron Sportback arrive.
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