US car sales analysis 2018 Q2 – Premium Large segment

Sales decline as segment anticipates onslaught of replacements from Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz


Sales in the US Premium Large segment fell by 4.8% to 123,507 in the first half of 2018, as stagnant sales in the first quarter gave way to a sales decline of 9.3% in the second quarter. With the new Audi A6Audi A7, BMW 6-series and Mercedes-Benz CLS about to go on sale, the new Lexus ES going on sale in July, and the still-new BMW 5-series and Volvo S90 continuing to gain sales, it is entirely possible the segment will turn this around and finish the year in the black.


  • The spread among the Top 3 models tightened substantially in the second quarter, with the BMW 5-series narrowly taking the Q2’18 sales crown ahead of the Mercedes-Benz E-class and Lexus ES, although the Mercedes remains at the top of the YTD standings
  • Tesla Model S and Cadillac XTS remained further back in fourth and fifth spot, the latter’s remarkable 70% growth in Q2’18 more a product of a sales collapse in Q2’17, than an increase in demand for the model this year
  • Sales of the Genesis G80Audi A6 and Lincoln Continental all fell by more than 30% in the second quarter – understandable for the about-to-be-replaced Audi, but worrying for the still fresh Continental, and a further disappointing result for the G80, which as the Hyundai Genesis once consistently ranked fourth in the segment

Note: different models from the same carmaker are combined for ease of comparison, but are also presented as “breakdown” for comparison; “AP” designates models that are classified in the Alternative Power segment, presented here for comparison; 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

  • Sales of Volvo S90 continued to rise in the second quarter, but at a much slower rate than before (only 12.9%), which combined with the lowly ranking of V90 wagon and surprising sales decline of the new V90 Cross Country suggests that the large Volvo may not end up being quite the hit with the buyers the carmaker was hoping it would be
  • In an interesting contrast of fortunes, the outgoing BMW 6-series saw its sales rise by over 50% in the second quarter while the outgoing Audi A7 saw its sales fall by almost 15%, suggesting different strategies between the two carmakers when it comes to the two models’ replacements (quite possibly because the 6-series Gran Coupe won’t be replaced for another year or so)
  • One item of note: we have taken out the Maserati Ghibli out of the comparison, as the company stopped publishing monthly sales data for the model

Note: clicking on the model names in legend turns the display for that model on/off; data is displayed from 1990 onwards, but starts earlier – access previous years using slider on bottom