By on October 4, 2013

TTAC_luxury-best-sellers-chart-September-2013-ytd

Early on, recent reintroductions in the small luxury sports sedan segment have only had the slightest negative impact on the BMW 3-Series’ category-leading market share.

Viewing the segment narrowly, the 3-Series – sales of which now include the 4-Series, which BMW hasn’t chosen to isolate – saw its market share fall from 27.2% in September 2012 to 26.2% in September 2013.

Among the newest competition, the best-selling range comes from Infiniti. The G37-replacing Q50 combined with the model it replaced and the Q60 (formerly G37 coupe and convertible) for 4988 sales in September, a 36% increase. 844 of those sales came from the coupe, another 2367 from the new Q50 sedan.

Lexus has also recently replaced its 3-Series fighter. Sales of the IS jumped 42% in September. Lexus hasn’t sold more than 30,000 copies of the IS since 2010, not more than 40,000 since 2008, not more than 50,000 since 2007.

The Cadillac ATS has now been around for thirteen months, and September marked the second time this year – the first time since January – that GM sold fewer than 2900 in a single month.

Volvo’s S60, which lacks for the time being a wagon partner, suffered a slight volume decline in September but is, in fact, selling more often this year than last. That’s notable in a Volvo lineup that’s collectively down 7% this year. Sales of the XC90, a very old design, are down 29%. S80 sales are off by 47%. The departing C30 is down 42%, XC70 sales are down 9%, and the C70 convertible is down 32%, a loss of 1191 units. The S60 will top 20,000 units in 2013 for the third consecutive year after falling below 9000 units in each of the previous three years. Volvo USA last sold more than 30,000 S60s in 2003.

Acura has not sold more than 2000 TSX sedans and wagons in a single month in 2013. Since the cheaper ILX went on sale in May 2012, only twice has Acura reported a year-over-year increase in TSX volume: in May 2012, and then one month later, in June 2012. Nearly 12% of the TSXs Acura has sold this year are wagons. TSX Sport Wagon sales are down 46% to 1632 units through the first nine months of 2013.

Speaking of wagons, Audi’s A4 Allroad, which took over from the A4 Avant, sold more than three times as often as the TSX Sport Wagon in September. With 4121 sales so far this year, the Allroad attracts 13% of Audi’s A4 volume. Audi has also sold 14,488 A5 coupes and convertibles in 2013, an 11% increase. The sales figures you see here for BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz take two-door models into account.

Mercedes-Benz no longer markets a C-Class wagon to compete with the 3-Series Touring, the TSX Sport Wagon, upcoming V60, or Audi’s Allroad. But the sedan and coupe do succeed to the extent that the C-Class is the only car capable of entering a conversation regarding the 3-Series’ market dominance. Through nine months, the C-Class, which now must fend off potential cannibalization from the lower-priced CLA250, came within 3160 units of outselling the next two-best-selling models in the category, the Infiniti and Audi.

Not every buyer who wants a car they perceive to be a sporty, sub-$40Kish sedan is forced to choose from among these eight cars. Acura TL sales are down 26% to 19,762 this year; down 66% to 1102 units in September. Cadillac CTS volume is down 37% to 24,410 units this year and fell 22% to 2408 in September. Meanwhile, the Acura ILX, Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Buick Verano, Lexus CT200h, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Volkswagen CC, and Volvo C30 combined for 85,033 sales over the last nine months, up 10%. 43% of those sales are made up by the Buick.

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Auto
September 2013
September 2012
September
%
Change
9 mos. 2013
9 mos. 2012
YTD
% Change
Acura TSX
1294 1681 - 23.0% 14,183 23,378 - 39.3%
Audi A4 & Allroad
3813 3035 + 25.6% 31,113 28,230 + 10.2%
BMW 3-Series
& 4-Series
8512 7731 + 10.1% 77,921 68,352 + 14.0%
Cadillac ATS
2739 611 + 348% 28,207 611 + 4517%
Infiniti G,
Q50 & Q60
4988 3677 + 35.7% 39,003 46,052 - 15.3%
Lexus IS
3201 2248 + 42.4% 22,060 21,107 + 4.5%
Mercedes-Benz
C-Class
6389 7872 - 18.8% 66,596 57,740 + 15.3%
Volvo S60
1545 1577 - 2.0% 18,732 17,993 + 4.1%
Total
32,481
28,432 + 14.2% 297,815 263,463 + 13.0%
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60 Comments on “Cain’s Segments: Small Luxury Sedans...”


  • avatar
    SayMyName

    As decent as the ATS is reported to be, Cadillac looks to continue being nothing more than an also-ran in the segment.

    Perhaps the ATS could gain some market traction if it wasn’t priced as dearly as a Bimmer or Lexus, despite having to carry the baggage of being “only” a GM product…

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      I actually think it is a shame. By all reports, the ATS is at least as good as the three. I do think that luxury cars in particular are a momentum game; you have to make good cars for years to get traction. The only exception was Lexus, which exploited a real weak point in German car history to rocket to the top.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I think the ATS is better than 2 of the 3. I would only buy the 3-series over the ATS if you were giving me those options.

        I’m interested to see what the new CTS will be like. Besides the performance “V” versions, I can’t stand the current vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        SayMyName

        I don’t disagree. The ATS seems to be a fine vehicle (though I can’t stomach the idea of stepping onto a Cadillac lot to check it out myself) but GM showed incredible shortsightedness and arrogance in pricing it so high. They haven’t earned that right yet, since too many people still remember the Cimarron, V8-6-4, Northstar, diesels…

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          You are about the price. The MSRP is too close to the 3-series.

          BMW has lease specials on the 320 as well. I suspect almost all the cars on this list have a high rate of being leased. If GM can keep the lease price down in comparison to the Germans, they could still be okay. It takes to old incentives and rebates though.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            “…they could still be okay…”

            Apparently GM hasn’t figured out leasing, then, since ATSs are collecting dust on dealer lots across the country. Or perhaps the target market is simply not inclined just yet to seriously consider a GM product, at any price.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Did anyone think it would have the volume of the Germans? Infiniti, Acura and Lexus don`t and that is after many years trying. Cadillac have their first proper small luxury car. They will hopefully build on the good and remedy the bad with the ATS and it may slowly build to compete.

      Actually just noticed they are close to Audi’s sales for the A4 – so not exactly an also ran unless Audi is too!

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Luckily the ATS has way more good than bad. The bad is rear legroom and trunk space compared to the competition, a poor entry level engine, and not being as refined as some of the competition. The 2.0T makes for a great car. I’m hoping all the positives translate to the CTS.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Agreed, some of the bad points can be relatively easily fixed like the instrument panel. Others will have to wait until Gen 2. But they have shown they can learn with the CTS, now in its 3rd generation.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            See, I don’t like the CTS. It’s gotten better from the original one, but if its not a “V” version, I can’t stand the CTS. The wagon is cool, but I’d never buy one. I even like the MKS and MKZ better than the standard CTS. Something about it just rubs me the wrong way.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        I wonder how much Audi sales are inhibited by the lack of a V6 option in the A4? My 2003 Avant had the 3.0 engine, and was a delight to drive. I’m not sure I’d have even considered the car if a 4-banger was the only engine choice.

        Cadillac, in my mind, still suffers from overly gaudy styling. Customers in this segment seem very much to prefer cars without a lot of chrome and other bling.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I would think that most 3s and Cs are sold with the 4 cylinder.

          • 0 avatar
            ect

            I don’t know that the companies involve publish this data, but if it’s the case, the same should generally be the case with the A4. Even so, most is far from all.

            All of these cars used to be offered with both 4- and 6-cylinder engine options. Currently, the 3 and the C offer this option, but the A4 is only available with a 4.

            My question simply is to wonder what (presumably negative) effect the lack of a 6-cylinder engine has had on A4 sales? I have no idea what the answer is.

          • 0 avatar
            GiddyHitch

            Take rate of the larger engine option is typically in the 10% range, I believe. The percentage of buyers for these cars who know how many cylinders are in the engine is probably about 10% as well. Audi sales pale in comparison to BMW, MB, and Lexus not because they are lacking for cylinders, but because they are lacking for cachet and prestige.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I looked at an ATS recently. It has two major problems vis-à-vis the new 3-series. #1, it is just too small. GM made a huge mistake when they made it the size of the now 2-generations old e46 3-series. #2, they did not sweat the little details the way that BMW does. The ugly instrument pack is really in your face. minor problems are that the ATS gets very expensive, very fast. And it is available ONLY as a 4-door sedan. The 3/4 are available as sedan, coupe, convertible, and station wagon. The ATS not being available as a wagon means I would not even consider it, no matter how nicely it drives.

      I’m also really surprised that MB hasn’t brought back the C-series wagon, and BMW the 5-series wagon. Each are ceding a lot of sales in those respective segments to the other. A little German gentleman’s agreement in effect there, perhaps?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I agree. The ATS still isn’t there despite being an excellent drive.

        Does MB and BMW not bring those wagons over because there is extra cost or because they’d rather sell us a CUV/SUV? I assume most of those wagons would be build to order products anyway.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          I also agree it isn`t at BMW levels but really did anyone expect the ATS in its first generation to take on and take down the 3 series?
          The 3 series has been honed for several generations so I would expect it to be better in some of the little details. Just as I expect a second generation ATS to be much closer since some of the small stuff like IP panel, engine choice etc will have been worked out.
          The second point people seem to forget is that companies like Infiniti, Lexus and Acura have been chasing the 3 series for years now (IS is on 3rd generation for example) and they haven`t matched the 3 series (in sales or reviews – fairly or unfairly is irrelevant for this discussion). So why expect a new comer to?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            The ATS has a too small back seat (smaller than the 3 series in terms of useable knee/leg room) and a poorly designed instrument & gauge cluster.

            I shall now commit petrosexual blasphemy: The front wheel pulled Buick Regal is a more premium feeling car than the ATS, which isn’t shocking necessarily as it’s an Opel Insignia, but it too has a cramped back seat, though the instrument/gauge cluster is better, as is the ride quality and material quality.

            I do not care for the 1st or 2nd gen CTS; both had unrefined suspensions and cheap interior material.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Having had a couple Regals as rentals, I agree with you 100%. The ATS is probably nicer to drive (I’ve only sat in one), but the Buick is nicer inside. Neither are in the same class as the Germans.

            Agree with you about the CTS too – I’ve had those as rentals as well. They are pretty impressive compared to what came before from Cadillac, but they are not class standard by any stretch.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            In terms of ride quality, there’s something magical Opel is able to accomplish with its vehicles.

            Between the completely solid & planted feel of their chassis’ and the fine tuning of their suspensions, with meaty rubber bushings and other details to keep impact and NVH levels low, they rival and often exceed comparably sized BMWs in terms of ride quality, IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        Noble713

        The ATS and E46 are *too small*?! Really? The ATS is about the same size/weight as the JZX110 Mark II iR-V I drive now, and I consider the JZX110 to be a fat, heavy car.

        There are 3 cars on my “sedan wishlist”: a Holden Commodore, an LS-swapped E46, and an LS-swapped ATS (don’t think that’s been done yet). The Commodore because it’s a ready-made solution, but it’s too heavy IMO. The E46 is the lightest but the interior is a little dated and requires lots of work to LS swap. The ATS should have the stiffest chassis and most modern interior, but has a high initial cost (purchase price + LS swap R&D).

        I basically want the smallest, lightest RWD sport sedan possible, no luxury features, an interior like the Toyota GT86 …. with a SBC V8.

        Clearly I’m a niche customer.

        • 0 avatar
          Noble713

          Correction: I meant LS-swapped E*36*, not 46.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Yes, THE most common complaint seen in reviews of both the e46 AND the e90 is that the back seat is very small, and the front seat is a bit cramped. An as an e91 owner, I can tell you that is 100% accurate. You ARE a niche customer, the majority of people spending $40-55K on a “small” luxury car want to be able to carry around four 6′ tall people. The e90 will JUST barely do it, the F30 is much better, but the e46 was pretty miserable. I am perfectly OK with the size of my e91, but I have to admit that the extra space in the e31 I test drove recently was very much appreciated, especially the extra headroom. And the new car is actually lighter than mine – bonus!

          Reality is that ALL cars have moved up a size over the years. The 1-series is about the same size as an e-30, the current 3 is the size of an old 5, the current Civic is the size of an old Accord. It makes no sense that Cadillac benchmarked a two-generations old car for the size of the ATS. It should have been AT LEAST the size of an e90, and realistically, looking at the sort of folks who will give a Cadillac the time of day, it should have been noticeably roomier. The CTS should be as big or bigger than a 5-series.

          In the US, most people who want what you want buy a Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger/Charger.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      ATS sales are currently hurt by 3 things:

      1. lack of coupe body style;

      2. lack of sport trims (the V-Sport and V);

      3. the old CTS still being available on lots and with discounts not much more than price of ATS.

      Once the coupe and sport trims become available and the supply of the old CTS dries up, ATS sales should see a nice bump.

  • avatar
    imag

    One other thing about Cadillac that might cause them trouble: their styling, especially interiors, is still very much about a kind of 1950′s bling fascination. I respect that they keep Cadillac Cadillac, but I wonder how much it hurts them.

    To me, their interiors look a bit juvenile. They seem less about luxury and more about glitz. It works in the Escalade, but I think the mid-sized luxury sedan market may not admire flash quite so much.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    “…combined for 85,033 sales over the last nine months, up 10%. 43% of those sales are made up by the Buick.”

    Acura is a luxury brand? The ILX gets smoked 2-to-1 in sales by the Buick Verano. Last I checked the S60 only major optioned that wasn’t available the on the Verano was AWD. The Verano Turbo is the best kept secret especially with a Trifecta Tune. :)

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      The Buick Verano gets smoked 10-to-1 by Toyota Corolla.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        And? The Verano starts around $7K more than the Corolla. Does having the Corolla smoke the ILX 20 to 1 help you?

        • 0 avatar
          wsn

          But no one would buy a GM without $10k rebate on the hood.

          I am in my 30s, and I have seen my fair share of Buicks. Someone gotta be on drug illusion to regard Buick as “luxury”. They may be a bit better equipped than Chevy, just as Mercury to Ford, or Camry LE as to Camry CE, and nothing more.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            I wouldn`t class either Buick or Acura as luxury brands. They would along with Volvo and Lincoln be in a group between mainstream cars (Honda, Toyota, Chevy) and Premium brands (BMW, Lexus, Cadillac).

            $10K off a Verano really.Just checked Edmunds and their suggested price on a base 2013 Verano, including a $1000 incentive is about $2K below MSRP. 2014′s are out so you would expect the incentives on a 2013 to be the most generous and dealers trying to off load the previous model year.
            The base 2013 Acura ILX was also $2K below MSRP. Seems like your prejudice was incorrect – you may get $10K on a truck but normal cars you will do well to get more than 10% off.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Please link to dealer with 10K on the hood off MSRP for 2014 Verano Turbo ANYWHERE in the lower 48. I will buy it TOMORROW and post back.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Hell, link to a 2013 Verano Turbo (no used cars or dealer demo, new) with $10K on the hood off MSRP and I’ll buy it tomorrow.

            WOOT, WOOT, buying a new Verano this weekend – fully loaded turbo for around $19.5K. Figure get $7K on the weather beater, toss in $5K cash on the deal. 24 month car loan at around $350 a month.

            Can’t wait for the link!

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    ‘The only exception was Lexus, which exploited a real weak point in German car history to rocket to the top.’

    Owned BMW and Mercedes (my most recent): All broke down and required towing very early in their ownership.

    The only cars that I was stupid enough to own which were even worse were GM —er—products.

    Never again for any of ‘em.

    It’s Japanese and Ford for me. I own both, and all have been virtually bulletproof.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Well I do agree that the LS is still the best *built* luxury car in the world. It doesn’t have the numbers or the toys to win reviews, but I think if you actually care about quality, the LS is still at the pinnacle.

      But the Germans have closed the gap quite a bit since the late 80′s in terms of refinement, and they have done a much better job on the emotional aspects of luxury – horsepower, looks, first-impression quality, gadgets, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Except, Lexus sales are mostly the cheaper FWD ES and RX.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        Except, that has nothing to do with what he is saying and is factually wrong on a global basis.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          It actually is on point b/c out of the Lexus models that are supposed to compete against the Germans, the IS, GS and LS, only the LS sells at a rate comparatively with the leaders (and that’s b/c the LS still has a considerable pricing advantage).

          The fact that the FWD ES and RX dominate Lexus sales (and the FWD focus will only be increased with the addition of the RAV-4 based Lexus CUV) shows that when it comes to sales, Lexus competes more against the likes of Acura and Lincoln.

          And who cares about what happens on a global basis (make that Japan)?

          The OP was talking about the US market.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Why do you include 2-dr sales when your title says “small luxury SEDANS”?

    If non-sedan models can be included, where is the BMW 1 series and Audi A3?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Because, as stated in the article, BMW hasn`t separated out the 4 series from the 3. Much like Hyundai doesn`t separate out the Genesis sedan from the Coupe. I wished they would but what do you propose?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I don’t want to pick nits with Mr. Cain’s work, as he does an excellent job of tracking data, but the more common industry terms for this segment in the US are “entry-level luxury,” “entry-level premium,” or sometimes “near-luxury.” Sedans and coupes are both included in that segment.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        mike978 “Because, as stated in the article, BMW hasn`t separated out the 4 series from the 3. Much like Hyundai doesn`t separate out the Genesis sedan from the Coupe. I wished they would but what do you propose?”

        I propose:
        1) Remove all the coupes from the figures, OR
        2) Include all relevant coupes, such as 1 series or A5, OR
        3) Change the title from “small luxury sedans” to “some random sample of luxury vehicles”

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          I like PCH’s suggestion. I think whatever way is used there will be exceptions because each manufacturer does things differently. You could class the A3 and BMW 1 series are entry level luxury cars but then where does the A4 and 3 series go? Unless both entries from each company are listed in this table.

          I would keep coupes, because they are just another body style. Much like the Acura TSX figures include the sedan and station wagon.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Not to mention many manufacturers don’t break the numbers out, they just count the big ball of vehicles sold.

            The only one in recent memory that broke out the sales of the coupe from the sedan was GM, reporting separate numbers for the Monte Carlo and Impala back in the early 2000′s.

            In contrast Toyota rolled the Solara sales numbers into the Camry all up during the same era. I seem to remember you could do some serious digging and get a breakout of the Solara, but it wasn’t in the monthly delivery report as a breakout (same with Corolla/Matrix – all rolled into the Corolla number).

            Honda doesn’t break out Civic or Accord numbers coupe vs sedan.

            It would just be darn near impossible, or overly costly to get the data, or overly time consuming to research to break it out.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Then the A5 should really be included in the A4 number as well, similar to 3/4 series and Q50/Q60.

  • avatar
    whynot

    I’m actually surprised by the Lincoln MKZ sales. I figured they would be lower, still haven’t seen the new one out on the streets yet.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      There are at least 10 in my neighborhood. However, I live in an affluent Detroit suburb. I’m sure there are a few Ford salaried workers nearby.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I’d seen several in my area. Even if the MKZ can’t turn Lincoln into an instant sales success, it’s very good for what it’s supposed to do. I think the MKz’s biggest enemy is the disproportionate number of $35K Fusion Titaniums.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Make no mistake, the Q50 is a seriously nice car, and I’m really starting to like the styling. I’m sure the Bimmer is a better driver, but the Infiniti seems to have more of the stuff that people actually care about.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I hope it is a big improvement over the G37. I had one as a rental for a long weekend earlier in the year and all I could think the whole time was that it was VERY obvious why a 3-series costs $10K more. Cheap and nasty, for the segment.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    So here’s a question: are we in a small luxury car bubble? Given how uber sedans are leased rather than bought, doesn’t that give the automakers an incentive to jack up retail prices, since there’s always somebody who can absorb the incremental monthly payment on a lease? Granted, BMW’s have never been cheap, but when you play with the online configurator, it’s like the retail price of a decently spec’d 3-series is beyond all reason now.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      This. No way I would ever pay $56K for a mid-spec 335i…

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        But are you in the market for a $56K anything? Serious question. What WOULD you spend $56K on these days?

        *I* wouldn’t pay that much for a 335i, because at that point I would rather spend about the same money on a more basic 5-series – I don’t need the speed of the turbo 6, but the space of a 5 would be nice. I could never see paying $35K for a loaded V6 Camry, but I would have not much problem paying $50K for a low-spec 328d wagon. The one I have was over $42K US MSRP. Another $8K is rounding error. I’m more irked that they won’t sell me one without AWD.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Seriously, why is ES listed here as a “small luxury sedan” (in the image) but yesterday the Avalon was listed in the “large sedan” category? Shouldn’t it have been listed with Avalon?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      It’s the brand. Lexus = premium. Toyota = mainstream.

      The ES is an entry-level luxury car, the Avalon is a large (family, not luxury) sedan. The actual price points aren’t relevant — the positioning of the vehicles and their brands are what count.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …Meanwhile, the Acura ILX, Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Buick Verano, Lexus CT200h, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Volkswagen CC, and Volvo C30 combined for 85,033 sales over the last nine months, up 10%. 43% of those sales are made up by the Buick…

    Holy ass crackers, the Verano appears to own the near-luxury small car segment at 43% of all vehicles. As the CLA rolls out will be interested to see the stats change.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Wait. Something has been left out. Where’s the Lincoln entry in this category?


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