The luxury limousine segment in Europe is shrinking faster than the market, down 19% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year. Traditional leader Mercedes-Benz S-Class is back on top thanks to the new generation, at the half-year mark it was still in third position. It shouldn’t come as a surprise the German brands take almost 87% of this segment, as Germany is the largest market for these models, and like the premium midsize car segment and premium large car segment, buyers have a preference for their “own” brands, with one surprising exception
The top six enjoy more than half of their European sales in their home market: in Germany, Mercedes-Benz S-Class sells 56% of total European registrations, BMW 7-series: 50%, Audi A8: 53%, Porsche Panamera: 50%, but the limousine with the most homesickness is the VW Phaeton, a huge 86% of Phaetons are registered with a German license plate! That even beats the 65% UK sales of Jaguar XJ, the expected “winner”. As Italian large sedans usually are not so successful outside of Italy, you’d expect Maserati Quattroporte to be up there with the rest of them, but surprisingly, Quattroporte is the least dependent on its home market, only 29% of European sales are in the boot-shaped country.
Porsche Panamera shows the biggest decline of the segment, the Plug-in E-hybrid version has been unable to change its fate. A facelift and the introduction of new engines help Jaguar XJ keep sales flat, so Jaguar will be happy the current generation has been shifted away from the traditional XJ design, which appealed to an audience that has since become extinct.
The launch of the new generation Maserati Quattroporte is looking successful, but the biggest gainer of the segment is Lexus LS, thanks to a facelift with the brands Spindle Grille, which appears to be more successful on LS than on other Lexus models.
The super luxury part of the segment sees a smaller decline of sales, with Rolls Royce Ghost still leading the pack, but Aston Martin Rapide and Bentley Flying Spur are coming closer.
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