After a 14.2% drop in 2016, the Premium Large segment is down by another 13.6% in Q1 of 2017, to just 53,278 sales. This means 2017 is likely to become the fourth consecutive year the segment loses volume after peaking at a record 334,298 units in 2013, losing a total of more than 100,000 annual units in this period, which would bring it back to its 2010 level. And the drop in sales comes at a time when there is still plenty of fresh product in the segment, with the new generation Mercedes-Benz E-class, Volvo S90 and V90 Cross Country, Lincoln Continental, updated Jaguar XF and Genesis G80 all less than 12 months in showrooms. Perhaps the new generation BMW 5-series can turn the tide when it arrives in Q2.
Highlights for Q1 2017
The new Mercedes-Benz E-class consolidates the segment lead it already had for the full year 2016, and it does so with almost twice the volume (+80%) of its closest competitor and holding a 22.3% share of the segment.
Its nearest 3 rivals all lose volume, with the former segment leader BMW 5-series down by almost a third as it awaits the next generation, and the Tesla Model S slightly down due to cannibalization of the Model X SUV. It does however increase its share of the segment. After a relatively stable 2016, the Cadillac XTS loses just over a fifth of its volume and climbs to the segment 4th place.
The XTS is able to move up one spot as the changeover from Hyundai Genesis to Genesis G80 under the new luxury brand has not been flawless. Compared to the volume of the Genesis under the Hyundai brand, the G80 under the Genesis brand is down by almost half (-45.8%), even though not much else has changed about the car. The segment fourth place has therefore been lost and even its fifth place is under fire by the Audi A6, up 9.5%. In fact, the A6 outsold the G80 in March.
The new Lincoln Continental has been well-received for the brand, scoring a segment 7th place and the highest Q1 sales for Lincoln in this segment since 2010.
If the XTS lost more than 20%, the Cadillac CTS does even worse at -37.4% and compared to Q1 of last year it loses two positions to the A6 and the Continental. And Cadillac can be thankful the Lexus GS does even worse as the segment’s biggest loser with a loss of 57.5% so the CTS wins back one of those spots. Compared to the full year 2016, it just falls behind the Continental, as the A6 already finished the year ahead of it while the GS had already dropped behind.
After losing 31% in 2016, the Infiniti Q70 rebounds and is the second-fastest growing model of the segment, adding more than a quarter to its volume, without any real news to the model. That means it’s ahead of its Japanese rival GS for the first time since 2011.
Besides the GS, two more models lose more than half of their volume: the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Jaguar XF, even though the latter has been renewed last year. Pehaps cannibalization from the brand’s first SUV, the F-Pace is causing the XF to decline this much.
Volvo has launched its new sedan and jacked-up station wagon for this segment, and the S90 and V90 Cross Country are still in start-up mode, with the latter having just started deliveries this quarter. Still, they’re off to a modest start and we’ll see if they can pick up the pace in the coming months.
The segment’s biggest wallflower remains the Acura RLX, even though it actually manages to decline less than the overall segment at -11.5%.
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