US sales 2017 first half: Premium Large SUV segment

Stable sales for large luxury crossovers, slight growth for full-sized luxury crossovers.

US Large Premium SUV
Sales of Premium Large SUVs appear to have peaked, as first half 2017 figures are up just 1% over the same period last year, for a total of 296,538 sales. So far this year, the trend in the premium segment seems to be: the bigger the truck, the slower the sales growth. However, subdivided in Large and Full-sized SUVs, the former subsegment is down by 1% to 236,206 sales, while the really big trucks still improve by 11% to 60,332 sales. The segment has had a boost of fresh and updated models in recent years, but will take a breather in coming months. We’ve just had the launch of the new generation Land Rover Discovery to replace the LR4, but we’ll have to wait until next year for the arrival of the Lexus RX 7-seater, new generation BMW X5 and the long-awaited new Mercedes-Benz G-Class. In the full-sized subsegment, there will be more news this year, with the new generations of the Infiniti QX80 and the Lincoln Navigator arriving in showrooms in the second half, as well as an updated Cadillac Escalade.

Highlights for first half 2017 large premium SUVs:

  • Lexus_RX-US-car-sales-statisticsTraditional segment leader Lexus RX loses 5% of its volume but maintains its dominant lead, as the #2 of 2016 Acura MDX loses almost as much, but more importantly: loses 2 spots as it is knocked off the segment podium by the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5. Both will be replaced next year, so their gains of 7% and 9% are actually pretty impressive in this field of fresher models, although the GLE is likely boosted by the GLE Coupe version, of which we don’t have specified figures.
  • The Infiniti QX60 had a relatively stable Q1 but drops 20% in the second quarter when it was the biggest loser. It still held on to 5th place, though. Its year-to-date figure is down 13%. Big winner in the top-10 in Q2 is the Audi Q7 with a 19% gain, giving the model a 14% increase in the first half, moving up 2 spots to #6. The Lincoln MKX had a record year in 2016 and improves further on that figure in the first half of 2017, but will have a hard time setting a new volume record, as it was already down 5% in the second quarter.
  • After a nightmarish Q1 when it lost 42% of its volume due to limited availability, the Volvo XC90 slightly improves to a loss of just 8% in Q2, but it remains the segment’s biggest loser for the first half, down almost a quarter on last year. The Tesla Model X stabilizes in the second quarter but is still one of the big winners for the half, and it continues to outsell the Porsche Cayenne.
  • Big winner so far this year is surprisingly the Infiniti QX70, the model of which has just been announced that it will be dropped from the line-up so the brand can focus on the launches of the new QX50 mid-sized crossover and the larger QX80 SUV. After a gap of a few years, a new QX70 is expected to return around 2020, and hopefully it will keep its characteristic polarizing design. It handily outsold the new generation BMW X6, proving it still has its faithful fans.
  • The Maserati Levante maintains an average of just over 400 monthly sales, which means it’s not the brand’s best selling model.
  • Land_Rover_Discovery-2018-US-car-sales-statisticsWe welcome the new generation Land Rover Discovery, which started sales in May and sold almost 1,000 units in its first month and a half (the other 400 sales are for the outgoing LR4).
  • An interesting sub-segment is that of Plug-in hybrid large SUVs, of which 4,194 were sold in the US in the first half of 2017. Only 4 models offer this option: 3 Germans and the Swede. While PHEVs made up just 1.8% of total segment sales, they took 4.8% of the sales of these four models. The BMW X5 xDrive 40e is the clear leader of this sub-segment with a share of more than half (2.146 sales), or 8.9% of its total volume. The Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid has the highest take rate at 13.9% of its volume (978 sales) and almost a quarter of SUV-PHEV sales. The Volvo XC90 T8 has a take rate of 6.4% but is limited by its worldwide popularity which reduces availability, while the Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e sells only 1.1% of its total (but keep in mind, this includes the GLE Coupe, which is not available as a PHEV version).

Highlights for first half 2017 full-sized premium SUVs:

  • Mercedes_Benz_GL-US-car-sales-statisticsMercedes-Benz dominates this segment in 2017 with the GLS, but the model is losing some steam: it doubled its volume in Q1, but then lost 14% in Q2, bringing its year-to-date growth to +21%. It still sells over 50% more than its nearest rival, which is now the Cadillac Escalade. The Escalade leapfrogged the Range Rover and Infiniti QX80 after spending the first quarter in 4th place.
  • However, including the long wheelbase version Escalade ESV, Cadillac reclaims the segment leadership it has held for the past 3 years. Combined sales of the two are stable, making the Lincoln Navigator the only model in the segment to lose volume in the first half, but that’s not surprising if you consider the age of that model and the fact that it will finally be renewed in the second half of the year.
  • The Lexus LX remains a niche player, but not as much as the Bentley Bentayga of course, which sells less 100 units a month.

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