The midsized premium SUV segment in Europe continues its steady growth in the first quarter of 2019 with a 5% increase to nearly 143.000 sales. In the top-10, only three nameplates improve their sales, helped by model updates. The segment leader Mercedes-Benz GLC loses ground with an 11% loss, which means it loses 2,8 percentage points of share and is now fewer than 1.500 sales ahead of both the #2 and the #3. The BMW X3 storms to second place with sales more than doubling thanks to the new generation. The X3 is looking to claim the top spot of the segment for the first time since 2013. Former leader Volvo XC60 is now down to 3rd place with sales stable on last year. It’s still in the running to reclaim the segment crown it held from 2014 till 2016, but the momentum is now with the X3. The XC60 has a take rate of 22% for the plug-in hybrid version, but the German brands are launching their full electric crossovers this year, with the Mercedes-Benz EQC, the BMW iX3 and the slightly larger Audi e-Tron, to which Volvo does not yet have an answer. The Audi Q5 is down to 4th place at a distance to the top-3 as it saw its sales decline by 18% in the first quarter.
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Behind the Q5 is another large gap to the Land Rover Discovery Sport which has just been renewed and should be able to recover from its 15% loss in Q1. The design of the Disco Sport hasn’t changed much from the first generation, but the technology is back up-to-date and it also plans a Plug-in Hybrid version. The Range Rover Velar sees stable sales, while the DS7 Crossback is the big winner of the segment, as it was launched during Q1 of last year. It now claims over 5% of the segment. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio loses 15% in the first quarter as it is still struggling with the WLTP standards which have caused some versions to be discontinued until they’re tested under the new regulations. The Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe is down by double digits but remains ahead of the BMW X4 which is up 26% thanks to the second generation. Both outsell the Jaguar F-Pace which is down 23% and the Porsche Macan which is down 8% as sales of the diesel versions have been discontinued. The Lexus NX is down 15% and is down into second to last place, ahead of only the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace.
As mentioned above, in 2019 we’ll welcome the EQC and iX3 as a rival to the I-Pace, and the Mercedes-Benz will also update the GLC.
One segment smaller, sales continue to rise even faster at +14% to over 151.000 units, as the premium compact crossover segment is now 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 12, with more on the way. Regardless, the BMW X1 is still the class leader despite a 15% drop in sales. Its share of the segment shrinks by six percentage points to 17,8%. Second place is still for the Audi Q2, despite a 4% drop in sales for this model. The Mercedes-Benz GLA narrowly holds on to third place with stable sales, but the Volvo XC40 is fewer than 50 sales behind and is much fresher. The Audi Q3 is down 5% despite having a new generation in showrooms, while the Mini Countryman shows a 2% increase, helped by the Plug-in Hybrid version which has a take rate of 26,7%. The Range Rover Evoque is down 8% but the new generation should help it recover later this year. The BMW X2, launched early 2018, is in 8th place with over 7% share of the segment, but it’s not enough for BMW to claim brand leadership of the segment from Audi, which holds 26,2% of the class with its two models, compared to 24,9% for BMW. With the Mercedes-Benz GLB coming out this year, all three German brands will have two players in this segment. The Jaguar E-Pace is stuck at 5% share and we welcome two new players to the segment in the first quarter: the Lexus UX and the DS3 Crossback.
In 2019 Mercedes will bring a new generation GLA and will add the GLB, including the only 7-seat model in this class. Audi will expand its line-up with the Q4 to compete head-on with the X2.
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