Sales in the Premium Compact segment are the fastest declining segment in the US car market, as sales are down 27% in the first quarter of 2017, following a 19.5% decline in the second half of 2016. Five out of the segment’s eight models show double digit declines, of which the entire top-4. The only way to give this segment some positive news is that it would be down by “just” 2.8% if we considered the Infiniti QX30 to belong here as well. The Qx30 is marketed as a crossover, while in fact it’s really just a hatchback. Then again, following the same reasoning the Mercedes-Benz GLA should be classified as a hatchback as well, so we’re not sure how to classify it. We’re interested in what our readers have to say about this matter. In Europe, it is sold under two different names for both segment: the Q30 hatchback and QX30 crossover, even though the only distinction between the two is the higher ground clearance of the latter. In the US, the Q30 is sold as the QX30 Sport, but Infiniti does not specify the take rate on that version, which would have made things a bit easier for us. For now, we’ll display it here for reference (it would instantly have become the segment leader), but keep it officially in the small SUV segment.
Highlights for Q1 2017
Keeping the QX30 out of consideration, the Audi A3 maintains its lead and even grows its share of the segment as its 18.9% decline is lower than the overall score. Almost 20% of its sales were for the e-Tron plug-in hybrid hatchback version, and even with those substracted, the A3 would still top the charts. The launch of the RS3 later this year won’t bring much additional volume, but could act as a halo for the regular versions of the sedan.
Its closest rivals Mercedes-Benz CLA and Acura ILX were hit much harder with declines of over 40% compared to last year. The latter did manage to stay slightly ahead of the BMW 2-series coupe & convertible, which outsold it for the full year 2016.
The new generation Mini Clubman has grown significantly on its predecessor and can now be classified as a compact car. That places it at the segment’s 5th place with almsot 1.900 sales this quarter, ahead of the 3 “alternative power” models.
The hybrid Lexus CT is down 28.2% as the model is aging quickly. It could even end this year being outsold by the BMW i3 EV, which surges 84% thanks to the increased battery capacity. The Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV remains a niche player with just over 50 monthly sales.
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