Sales of premium large SUVs in Europe have rebounded in the first quarter of 2014, up 11% compared to a similar decline over the full year 2013. Just like in the compact premium SUV segment, there is a complete shuffle of the ranking, with the top 10 of the segment all changing position.
Whereas the BMW X3 has fallen from its throne in the smaller segment, its larger sibling BMW X5 has committed a coup d’etat by leapfrogging its main competitors to jump from fourth position at the end of 2013 straight into the segment leadership. The new generation has sold almost double what the outgoing generation sold in the same period last year.
Also almost doubling its sales thanks to a new generation and rising from fifth position into second place is the Range Rover Sport. It has shed a lot of weight by changing from a body-on-frame SUV concept to a unibody crossover and the increased use of aluminum, which has helped the model improve its fuel efficiency, resulting in increasing sales.
As a result of these two models charging up the charts, last years podium contenders, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, are all pushed down two positions. The M-Class is due to receive a makeover this year, which has caused its sales in the first three months to drop by a quarter, while the Touareg already takes profit of its updates, and rebounding from its decline in the last two years.
The Range Rover has taken back the position the Jeep Grand Cherokee had stolen from it by the end of 2013, despite its first quarter sales down 8% vs. an increase of 41% by the Jeep. The Range Rover pulled this off thanks to an excellent month of March which is traditionally the best month of the year in the UK due to the license plate changeover. As a result, sales of models that are relatively dependent on the British market, also tend to be skewed towards March. Expect the Grand Cherokee to be back on top again by the end of the year.
Amazingly, two old-timers see their first quarter sales increase this year: the Audi Q7 is up 8% and the Volvo XC90 is up 24%, despite being on the market since 2006 and 2002 respectively. Both are due to be replaced by next year, so they may be in run-out mode, selling off the remaining stock of the outgoing models.
The Tesla Model X was supposed to be introduced late 2014 as well, but this has been postponed for another year, as Tesla is struggling to keep up with demand for its Model S full electric sedan.
Range Rover Sport
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Defender
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