US car sales analysis Q1 2018 – Premium Large segment

Segment sales remain stable as BMW 5-series and Volvo S90 steal sales from other models

Sales in the US Premium Large segment fell by a mere 15 units to 62,651 in the first quarter of 2018, a much better performance than the 2017 overall sales decline of almost 10%. Given all the new metal in the segment, however, the expectations were probably higher still – instead, BMW 5-seriesMercedes-Benz E-class and Volvo S90 seem to have benefited at the expense of other models in the segment. It will now be interesting to see how the segment does in the remainder of 2018, with new models like Audi A6Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS about to go on sales, plus the new Cadillac CT5 likely to debut before the end of the year.


  • BMW 5-series registered by far the largest gain among the higher-volume models, with sales rising by more than half compared to Q1’17, allowing the model to narrow the gap to the segment-leading Mercedes-Benz E-class, and leap over Lexus ES, the long-time segment leader
  • Many of the other models in the Top 10 registered declines, the largest coming courtesy of Audi A6 and Lincoln Continental, which suggests that the new Lincoln is already running out of steam

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

  • Volvo S90 did well to rise to tenth on the back of 75% sales growth, although it is still unclear whether the new model has enough appeal to challenge for the Top 5; interestingly, customers so clearly prefer the V90 Cross Country over the V90 wagon that Volvo may, before long, decide to go the Subaru route and only offer the quasi-offroader version
  • Most of the remaining models saw their sales fall by between 20% and 50%, with notable exceptions including Lexus GS, whose sales were stable (though this follows the sales collapse in 2017), BMW 6-series and the facelifted Acura RLX

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