The midsized car segment in Europe accelerates its decline in 2019 with a 25% decrease in deliveries in the first quarter, to less than 100.000 cars. This is now just 2,4% of the European car market as just two out of the 12 available nameplates improve their sales in the first quarter. The segment which sold nearly 1 million units as recently as 10 years ago is now down even further on whar already was its lowest volume ever. Interestingly, the luxury midsized car segment is down by just 3% so far this year and is 60% larger than these mainstream models. Even more telling for the state of this segment is that the recently launched all-electric Tesla Model 3 delivered more units in March than any nameplate in this segment in Europe. To be fair, of course this reflects deliveries of vehicles ordered over the course of the last few years and therefore can not be directly compared until Tesla has fulfilled all pre-orders and starts normal deliveries. The traditional segment leader Volkswagen Passat falls faster than the overall segment and is down to below 30% share, which is still a dominant position. Its sibling Skoda Superb is the only model in the top-4 to improve its share of the segment with sales down “just” 14% while the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo both lose a quarter of their sales, right on par with the segment as a whole. Big winner is the all-new Peugeot 508 with its well-received design. The 508 came close to outselling the Mondeo in February and should become a podium contender when it reaches full availability of all versions.
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The Mazda6 is down one spot despite being the only other model to sell more than it did in the first quarter of 2018. The 6 adds 2,3 percentage points of share of the segment and distances the Renault Talisman, which also improves its share of the segment but is still down in absolute terms. The Kia Optima and Subaru Legacy/Outback also decline by double digits, while the Hyundai i40 and Subaru Levorg are likely to be killed off without direct replacements, as also happened with the Citroën C5 and Honda Accord. At least Toyota is not yet ready to give up on the segment, bringing back the Camry as a replacement to the Europe-only Avensis. The Camry will be a hybrid-only model, which gives it an edge on its rivals which are more tailored to the European market. Perhaps Hyundai will follow the same example with the Sonata as a replacement to the i40, but it too will have to come up with a Unique Selling Point to compete with the likes of the Passat, Superb and Insignia.
Besides the new generation 508 and the return of the Camry, we will also see a new generation of the Legacy and Outback, hoping to carve out more than just a niche in Europe with the new generation.
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