US car sales analysis Q4 2017 – Premium Large segment

Segment slide continues as new models such as BMW 5-series and Volvo S90 see their sales grow quicklyUS-sales-premium_large_car-segment

Sales in the US premium large segment fell by 2.4% to 79,062 in the fourth quarter of 2017, while overall sales in 2017 fell by 9.9% to 286,030. However, despite the appearance and reputation of a staid segment slowly shrinking under the onslaught of SUVs, there is in fact a lot of action going on in the segment, with new models such as BMW 5-seriesMercedes-Benz E-class and Volvo S90 gaining substantial sales at the expense of older models. In 2018 the segment is likely to continue on this path, with the new Audi A6/A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS joining the fray.


  • With a 15% drop in sales in Q4’17 the Lexus ES, the long-time segment leader, was almost overtaken by the Mercedes-Benz E-class/CLS duo, whose combined sales barely grew due to the CLS’s decline just before the new model arrives
  • BMW 5-series/6-series took a comfortable third, albeit despite the 25% growth in sales experienced by the new 5-series they were still quite a distance behind the Mercedes-Benz duo
  • Sales of Tesla Model S fell again in the fourth quarter, much as they had been all year long, suggesting that if customers keep abandoning it for its Model X stablemate than the Silicon Valley wunderkind might get overtaken by the new Audi A6/A7 duo, whose combined sales were only a few thousand units behind in 2017

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

  • Cadillac XTS lost over 25% of its sales in 2017, and was almost overtaken by the Genesis G80, whose growth in sales disguises the fact that the model’s sales were considerably lower than its sales combined with its Hyundai Genesis predecessor in 2016
  • Sales of the Lincoln Continental grew by a steady 19% in the last year, just enough to keep it ahead of the surging Volvo 90-series set of models, whose remarkable 300% growth is driven mostly by the S90, more than tripling its sales compared, and the new V90 Cross Country, both of which have so far comprehensively outperformed their V90 wagon sister
  • Further back Cadillac CTS and Jaguar XF saw their sales fall by about a third, though that was still better than the Lexus GS practically seeing its sales halve
  • By comparison, sales of the Infiniti Q70 barely fell last year, quite a good performance given the model’s age, and the utter failure of Acura RLX to make any dent in the market


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