The limousine segment in Europe started a decline in 2018 and this trend continued in the first quarter of 2019, with sales down 18% to nearly 10.500 sales. We have one newcomer and just two nameplates that improve their sales year-over-year, with the rest all in red, of which all but one with double digits. The dominant segment leader Mercedes-Benz S-Class not only maintains its top position, but also stabilizes its market share of over 31% with sales down 19%, only slightly more than the segment as a whole. It sells over 1.000 cars more than its nearest rival BMW 7-series which hasn’t yet borne the fruits of its latest facelift, which should help it reduce the Q1 decline of 23% in the following quarters. Keep in mind that S-Class sales include the Coupe and Convertible versions, which BMW splits out under the name 8-Series and most other brands don’t offer in this segment. The launch of the BMW 8-series helps the brand to outsell Mercedes-Benz in this class for the first time since 2012. Third place is for the Audi A8, down just 4% and therefore the best performer in the top-8, helped by its new generation.
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 Porsche Panamera loses half of its volume as the brand ended sales of its Diesel versions while its popular Plug-in Hybrid versions were hurt by the new WLTP standards which reduced their theoretic battery-only range. Just behind the all-German top-5 which controls 95,8% of the segment in Europe, we find three challengers that all lose more than half of their sales compared to the same period last year: the Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS and Maserati Quattroporte. Between the three, they sold just over 300 cars in the first quarter of 2019. The Bentley Mulsanne outsells its cheaper sibling Flying Spur which is due for a new generation now that its coupe version Continental GT has already been renewed. The Aston Martin Rapide rebounds with a 55% gain but remains a niche player with less than half a percent of share of the segment.
After the updated 7-Series which is already in showrooms, Audi will launch the S8 version of their latest generation A8 as well as a super-luxury version to rival the Maybach S-Class and Jaguar will present the new XJ which will become the first all-electric limousine. Market launch may not be until 2020, though. Bentley will renew the Flying Spur as mentioned above, and BMW will launch a Gran Coupe version of the 8-Series.
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