US sales 2016 Premium Small Sports segment


Sales in the Small Premium Sports segment fell yet again in 2016, this time by 1.8 percent, making it one of the segments that have seen the most consecutive years of decline (others that share this dubious distinction are the Large and Alternative Power segments). All in all, the segment is only about half of the size it was a decade ago, when BMW Z4 on its own sold almost as many as the combined number of sales in the segment 2016. The prospects for this segment in 2017 now rest on the incoming BMW Z5 (returning to a soft-top setup), and how well the customers will take to the newly-facelifted Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman (now with the “718” prefix), and whether the new Audi TT can continue growing its sales.

Highlights in 2016:

  • Porsche 718 Cayman

    Porsche Cayman took the segment leader position away from the Mercedes-Benz SLC, whose facelift and new name clearly did little for customers (sales were down 19 percent)

  • Audi TT, the only car whose sales truly rose since 2015, took third place in 2016, though the fact that it failed to outsell the SLC in a single quarter casts doubt on whether it will be able to challenge it in 2017
  • Following a surge in sales in the first half of the year, sales of the Porsche 718 Cayman fell in the second quarter, resulting in a net 14 percent decline – is this early indication that customers are not nearly as enamored of the turbo-flat-4 new model as they were of its NA flat-6 predecessor?
  • Sales of both BMW Z4 and Alfa Romeo 4C fell in 2016, but while this was to be expected for the soon-to-be-replaced BMW, this was ever more bad news for the Italian brand whose strategy to gain a foothold in the American market through a niche model is clearly not working out
  1. You have to wonder what BMW’s strategy with the Z4 is all about. When the Z3 was first offered they sold 20,000 the second year. This year, just over 1,000. They’ve lost 95% of their customers as the price of this fine car went from pricey but affordable to really expensive for a two seater. Their price hikes completely knocked out the demographic which would be most interested in an eye-catching roadster: young men & women professionals.

    1. @Stephen – I think BMW’s strategy was to grow the model to match the M-B SLC (SLK) as closely as possible, but as you rightly point out that misfired for them. If you look at sales of the Audi TT in Europe it’s clear to see that offering lighter, less-powerful and cheaper versions of such sports car can be really beneficial to the brand

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