US sales 2017 first half: Premium Large segment

Only the 2 segment leaders grow volume in Q2, all others lose double digits or are new

US-sales-premium_large_car-segmentAfter a 14% drop in 2016 and a 13% loss in Q1 of 2017, the Premium Large segment remains consistent with another decline of 14% in Q2, to just 54,915 sales. That makes it unlikely the 3-year losing streak for the premium large cars will come to an end in 2017. In fact, the segment is likely to end this year with a loss of 100,000 sales compared to 2013, when a record 334,298 units were sold. As for the other premium car segments, the main reason for this crash landing is the rising popularity of crossovers, although sales growth is slowing down for these models as well. What’s more worrying, is that the decline happens while quite a few models in the segment are still relatively fresh. The new generation Mercedes-Benz E-class, Volvo S90 and V90 Cross Country, Lincoln Continental, updated Jaguar XF and Genesis G80 all less than 18 months in showrooms. The new generation BMW 5-series arrived too late in Q2 to make a real difference, but should help soften the decline in the second half of the year.

Highlights for first half 2017

  • The Mercedes-Benz E-class was one of the only 2 nameplates to remain in the black in Q2 and is also one of only 2 to gain volume in the first half, and it does so with an impressive 19%. However, the former segment leader BMW 5-series was less than 1,000 units behind in Q2 and looks set to reclaim its crown in the second half of the year. That may not be enough to finish 2017 back on top, but keep in mind that E-Class figures include sales of the Coupe and Convertible versions, which BMW sells under a separate nameplate: 6-Series. In terms of sedan volume, the 5-Series still has a good shot at outselling the E-Class this year.
  • The Tesla Model S holds on to its third place as its decline is half that of the overall segment, meaning the all-electric sedan increases its share despite some cannibalization of the Model X SUV.
  • Lincoln_Continental-2017-US-car-sales-statisticsIf the Cadillac XTS climbed to 4th place in Q1, it’s down to 7th place (just 9 units ahead of 8th place) in Q2, which means it drops back to #6 for the half with a loss of a quarter of its volume.
  • Moving ahead of the XTS are the Audi A6 and Genesis G80. After a Q1 gain, the Audi has fallen into the red in Q2, possibly due to the arrival of the new 5-Series. At least it has now moved up to 4th place in the segment, a position it last held in 2002.
  • Genesis cannot be satisfied with its first year of sales as a stand-alone brand. The G80 is down to half the volume the exact same car sold when it was still called the Hyundai Genesis sedan.
  • The new Lincoln Continental also outsold its American rival XTS in Q2 and may outsell the Cadillac for the full year 2017. It’s already way ahead of the Cadillac CTS which loses more than a third of its volume. In Q2, the CTS was even outsold by the new Volvo 90 Series. The S90 sedan, V90 station wagon and V90 Cross Country combined climb to #9 for the first half, as they came within 10 sales of 7th place in Q2. 23% of its sales came from the V90CC, a figure that should increase as availability of the model improves.Volvo_V90_Cross_Country-US-car-sales-statistics
  • That pushes down the Lexus GS, the biggest loser in the top-15 with a loss of more than half of its volume. It falls from #7 in the first half of 2016 to 10th this year, and that’s only because it outsold the Infiniti Q70 in Q2. The Q70 had a promising start of the year as the second-fastest growing model of the segment in Q1, but dropped into the red in the second quarter. It remains one of only 2 nameplates in positive territory for the first half, though barely.
  • That means it’s ahead of its Japanese rival GS for the first time since 2011.
  • In Q2 the Italian stallion Maserati Ghibli distanced the Audi A7 and Jaguar XF, the latter of which slightly recovered from a hellish Q1, but is still down by almost half its volume of last year. The exterior updates have remained limited even though it’s an all-new generation, and apparently that’s a bit too conservative for the American buyers. Or perhaps cannibalization from the brand’s first SUV, the F-Pace is costing the XF sales as well.
  • The segment’s biggest wallflower remains the Acura RLX, at less than 100 monthly sales.

Note: “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

Photo credit: Car and Driver