Sales growth in the Premium Large SUV segment slowed in the first quarter of 2017, with a gain of 4.9% to 142,801 sales. Subdivided in Large and Full-sized SUVs, we can conclude that almost all of the growth comes from the latter. While large SUVs gained 1.5% to 112,501 sales, the largest premium SUVs on the road increased their sales by 19.5% to 30,300 units. This is a similar trend as with mainstream crossovers and SUVs, where also the smallest (subcompact crossovers) and the largest (full-sized SUVs) were the fastest growing “truck” segments. This segment has seen quite a few new entrants and model updates in 2016, but won’t sit still this year either, so expect the winning streak to be extended to 8 years of consecutive growth. Combined, out of 24 players in this segment, only 9 lose volume, of which just 3 with double digits, compared to 7 double digit gainers.
Highlights for Q1 2017 large premium SUVs:
Traditional segment leader Lexus RX loses 9.1% 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. The former will be replaced next year, so its gain of 5.8% is likely fueled by the GLE Coupe version, of which we don’t have specified figures.
The Infiniti QX60 also dips slightly but holds on to its fith place ahead of the Lincoln MKX (sales up 11% on its record year of 2016). Both the new generation Audi Q7 and the Range Rover Sport gain 8%, distancing the Lexus GX and overtaking the Volvo XC90 which is in big trouble with sales down 42% even though it’s still one of the freshest models in the segment. Being Volvo’s best seller in the US, this explains why the brand has underperformed so far this year.
Despite its age, the Infiniti QX70 rebounds with an impressive 60.6% gain, but keep in mind even though it has already improved two years in a row, sales are still way below the peak of almost 31,000 sales for the first generation way back in 2004, or even the peak of 11,000 sales for the second generation in its first full year 2009. At least it now sells almost twice as many as the BMW X6. Then again, so does newcomer Maserati Levante, almost.
An interesting sub-segment is that of Plug-in hybrid large SUVs, of which 1,798 were sold in the US in Q1. Only 4 models offer this option: 3 Germans and the Swede. While PHEVs made up just 1.6% of total segment sales, they took 5.4% 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 hald (934 sales), or 7.7% of its total volume. The Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid has the highest take rate at 11.6% of its volume (424 sales) and almost a quarter of SUV-PHEV sales. The Volvo XC90 T8 has a take rate of 6.2%, while the Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e sells only 1.2% of its total (but keep in mind, this includes the GLE Coupe, which is not available as a PHEV version).
Highlights for Q1 2017 full-sized premium SUVs:
Mercedes-Benz dominates this segment in 2017 with the GLS thanks to doubling its volume over the pre-facelift GL, with a comfortable lead over the #2 Range Rover and #3 Infiniti QX80, both of which also show double digit increases.
That leaves the Cadillac Escalade down in 4th place due to a loss of 14.4%, and even including the long wheelbase Escalade ESV the Caddy is now outsold by the GLS for the first time since 2013.
The Lincoln Navigator is about to be replaced by an all-new generation, which was launched at the New York Autoshow this month, and as a result it is the biggest loser of the segment with a loss of 16.2%.
Newcomer Bentley Bentayga is not intended as a volume model, and racks up 209 sales in the first quarter.
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