By on May 6, 2014
Auto
April
2014
April
2013
%
Change
4 mos.
2014
4 mos.
2013
%
Change
BMW X5
4,393 3,444 +27.6% 14,153 15,335 -7.7%
BMW X3
3,544 1,914 +85.2% 13,974 9,125 +53.1%
Mercedes-Benz M-Class
3,831 3,280 +16.8% 13,965 12,442 +12.2%
Audi Q5
3,293 3,241 +1.6% 12,067 11,437 +5.5%
Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
3,144 2,702 +16.4% 11,415 10,212 +11.8%
BMW X1
1,130 1,556 -27.4% 9,098 6,967 +30.6%
Volkswagen Tiguan
1,998 2,488 -19.7% 8,109 10,439 -22.3%
Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
2,253 2,481 -9.2% 7,671 10,099 -24.0%
Porsche Cayenne
1,839 1,750 +5.1% 6,119 5,931 +3.2%
Audi Q7
1,462 1,183 +23.6% 5,551 4,084 +35.9%
Volkswagen Touareg
597 578 +3.3% 2,162 3,102 -30.3%
BMW X6
342 354 -3.4% 1,442 1,618 -10.9%
Mercedes-Benz G-Class
274 188 +45.7% 882 800 +10.3%
Total
28,100
25,159 +11.7% 106,608 101,591 +4.9%

It’s not as though consumers hadn’t experienced doses of luxury in their SUVs before the Mercedes-Benz ML, Lexus RX, and Lincoln Navigator began pushing an increasingly impressive wave toward shore in the late 90s. But, especially in the enthusiast community, there was some reluctance to accept the notion of such illustrious brands diving head first into a market that was going to demand perfectly balanced compromises. The traditional off-road ability we associated with SUVs couldn’t be thrust overboard in favour of road manners. Or could it?

To go along with an invasion of crossovers from premium Japanese brands, the Swedes, Detroit’s luxury duo, and an expanding Land Rover range, German brands have added a bevy of utility vehicles to ride the wave over the last decade.

And for the most part, they sell rather well.

BMW’s four X models were responsible for generating 37% of the brand’s April 2014 U.S. volume. To the benefit of BMW’s bottom line, the more costly X5 – rather than the X3 or entry-level X1 – attracts the greatest number of buyers.

With base prices between $63,000 and $118,000, the Mercedes-Benz GL enjoyed its best ever sales year in 2013. Sales this year are sliding, but Mercedes-Benz has already sold more GLs in 2014 than Lincoln will sell Navigators all year, at least at the current pace.

It goes without saying that the Cayenne is hugely important to Porsche. More than four out of every ten U.S. Porsche sales involves the Cayenne. Porsche sold more than 18,000 Cayennes in 2013, the first 18K+ sales year since 2004. The upcoming Macan will surely turn Porsche dealers into SUV specialists with a knack for selling sports cars on the side.

Without the Q5 and Q7, Audi USA would only have sold 33,263 vehicles in the first four months of 2014, 7100 fewer than Infiniti managed. Instead, these two vehicles which account for 35% of Audi’s U.S. volume helped the brand outsell Infiniti by more than 10,000 units over the last four months.

Audi’s parent company, Volkswagen, is the straggler. The Touareg’s low volume can easily be blamed on the combination of a mainstream badge and a premium price tag. Even in 2012, the Touareg’s first year above 10,000 U.S. units since 2006, Touareg sales were down 62% compared with 2004 levels. The Tiguan was supposed to be a compact challenger in the extraordinarily high-volume small crossover category, but it has not succeeded on this side of the Atlantic. You can guess what’s coming next. Gird your anti-Americanization loins.

Regardless of the successes or failures at specific brands, we all know the mission of these automakers has been altered by the drive toward premium utility vehicles. During the first four months of 2004, four of these brands marketed six SUVs, including the niche G-Wagen. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Audi (which had not yet introduced the Q7) owned 4.8% of the overall new vehicle market and generated 15.5% of their sales with the X3, X5, Cayenne, Touareg, G-Class, and M-Class.

The industry had collapsed by 2009. During the first four months of that year, 12 different utility vehicle nameplates produced 21.6% of the quintet’s sales. The market share afforded to Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volkswagen ran up to 6.7%.

This year, these five brands own 7.4% of the U.S. auto market. 13 different SUVs and crossovers generate 28.1% of the 379,322 volume (not including Sprinter) collected by five traditionally German brands.

Five of those vehicles – X3, X5, X6, ML, and GL – are assembled in the United States. All are currently being outsold by the Lexus RX, Acura MDX, Cadillac SRX, and Acura RDX. Five are selling less often this year than they did last year, although only three declined in April.

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40 Comments on “Cain’s Segments April 2014: German Luxury SUVs...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    That new “F15″ X5 *is* pretty sweet. Navigation now comes standard, but all-wheel-drive does not. $60-62K for even a mildly-equipped one is hard to swallow, but when you’re a businessperson and you can do a tax write-off for much of the purchase price, it’s not such a big thing, I suppose…

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The BMW G-Class is -very- luxurious.

    Why is any Land Rover product not on this list? I am SURE they sell more Range Rovers than the “BMW” G-Class.

    Also, “Without the Q5 and Q7, Audi USA would only have sold 33,263 vehicles in the first four months of 2014, 7100 fewer than Infiniti managed. Instead, these two vehicles which account for 35% of Audi’s U.S. volume helped the brand outsell Infiniti by more than 10,000 units over the last four months.”

    Why must we write paragraphs like this when talking figures? I don’t want to have to go back and forth and decode what you’re saying about each brand. Without McNuggets, Mcdonald’s outsold Burger King by 34,000 pieces of chicken, but with them the brand sold more than the other brand by 25% of 15,000.

    This is what they do on MSN as well. Trying to fill word counts I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      ‘I am SURE they sell more Range Rovers than the “BMW” G-Class.’

      I’ll second that.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Why is any Land Rover product not on this list?”

      The article only covers German luxury SUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yeah, I noticed that later, as the “German” part was not in the email title, nor is it in the link. It would be much more useful if the article was on luxury SUVs in total, rather than just the Germanic.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Nonethless, there is some truth to that comment.

      Despite a more limited CUV lineup (for the moment), Audi has a higher % of its sales in CUVS than BMW or MB.

      This is similar to other brands/automakers that are FWD-based such as Acura, with both Lincoln and Lexus seeing CUVs being the main driver for their sales.

      Anyhow, I suspect GL sales are down due to a supply issue (big demand elsewhere).

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Timothy,
    Thank you for doing these segments; they offer a lot of insight into what is selling these days.

    One question: I am confused by how you are segmenting luxury SUVs. Are these just the Europeans? I would consider the Lexus RX, Acura RDX and Infiniti EX35 (or whatever they call it now) to be in the same category as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and the GLK350.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “I would consider the Lexus RX, Acura RDX and Infiniti EX35 (or whatever they call it now) to be in the same category as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and the GLK350.”

      Well, to be honest, the EX35/QX50—essentially a G35/G37/Q40 hatchback—makes for a very small crossover. I would almost pit it against the subcompact X1 and the upcoming GLA and NX. Also, the lines can get a bit blurred between compact and mid-sized “soft” crossovers. The Q5, GLK, X3 and upcoming MKC really are compact crossovers, while the RX, RDX, SRX and MKX are mid-sized. The XC60 straddles the fence between compact and mid-sized. Vehicles like the QX70 are quite difficult to categorize in terms of size.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        The thing which has always bothered me about the EX is the turn blinker being way down low on the bumper. It makes for lights in too many places at the back, because the brake lamps are up so high. The only other SUV I can think of which had this was the gen1 Discovery.

        I agree the XC60* straddles between compact and mid, but I’d say the QX70 is certainly right in the mid-size segment, as far as footprint. It’s just not roomy.

        *Much too expensive.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Actually, the XC60 is decently-priced, in my opinion. The only thing that bugs me is that there are two options I would definitely want that a lot of dealership stock cars don’t have: projector-beam headlamps (which should be standard) and navigation.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            And I bet they’re costly options for a Volvo. Is Volvo sat nav still awful like it was a couple years ago?

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I believe Volvo’s latest infotainment/navigation system (Sensus Connect) debuted in MY2012 (though not on the XC90). You can identify it easily because it *is* a full infotainment system, instead of the standalone navigation unit in the previous years. Therefore, a 2012 or later XC60 with navigation won’t have that binnacle for a separate audio display. It will also have the radio/navigation controls arranged in sort of a border around the center-stack panel instead of in a grid pattern. Sensus also got some major upgrades for MY2014, to coincide with a corporate facelift for the entire brand. Sensus is not horrid like the system from the 2010-2011 XC60, but it’s not nearly as good as iDrive or MMI.

            I really thought I wanted a BMW because I’m a gadget-geek and iDrive is so impressive, but lately that’s become a smaller and smaller part of my opinion on the brand’s, especially because I think the X3 looks hideous compared to the XC60.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        I’ll accept the refinement! I will also learn to read headlines better, as I missed that this was exclusively about German brands.

        Although I don’t see much value in looking exclusively at German brand sales in the US. And I have no idea what the word “SUV” means if it applies to the X1.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Lexus RX is based on a midsize platform but competes against the compact Germans on price.

      If the RDX competes against the likes of the X3, then it would be the NX and not the RX.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        You’ve got it. Traditionally, the Germans and Brits will sell you a smaller car for the money. But that’s not always a bad thing. I quite like the X1 when I look at it as a hatchback E90…but I’d have to get one in near-loaded spec.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      i think the RX is a half size bigger than some of those, particularly the GLK which is rather puny, but they are competitors I agree.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    How is the Jeep GC not on list as well.

  • avatar
    MAGICGTI

    Volkswagen Tiguan? Is anyone there? Hello?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Bonjour! It’s not luxury.

      • 0 avatar

        Trust VW, they know what’s good for you and what’s what. You don’t! :)

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @ Corey:
        Right, but the PRICE TAG is luxurious. Ridiculous money for what amounts to a CR-V. No mystery why they don’t sell.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          It’s also VERY outdated.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          The biggest problem for Tiguan is the size — it’s just too small. Yes, it’s not new, though not ancient at 7 years (with a recent facelift) but the price would not be a huge problem if the size were a better fit.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Indeed. It looks awkward and disproportionate, with its upright styling and those rear-door windowlettes that are larger than the quarter-panel windows. I can’t imagine it’s got more interior volume than a 5-door Golf. Really, unless you want to pony up for the Touareg, your best bet is a Jetta SportWagen.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Acura surely doesn’t compete!

      The Buick Encore(Tiguan competitor) sold less than 100 units(4,317) short of topping this list not including Opel Mokka sales.

      http://www.thecarconnection.com/car-compare-results/buick_encore_2014-vs-volkswagen_tiguan_2014

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        I think there were not many Mokka sales in the US!

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          You know I was just considering – GM should have brought the VX220/Speedster here as a Pontiac or a Buick Reatta.

          It would have been good timing to get in some enthusiast cred. And they were already making it in LHD.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Indeed. A rebadged and uglified Lotus certainly would have been a sequel to the failed reputation of the first Reatta.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Hey I thought it was cool and edgy! Could’ve been a Saturn too, I suppose.

            New 2000 Saturn Proton

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Looks like a typo in the chart – 4 months 2014 vs 4 months 2012? Should be 2014 vs 2013, right?

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Yes, apologies. Use of a new compiler caused a couple issues. For the record, the focus of the piece is German brand utilities, and how traditional automakers have seen their playing field altered by a swing toward an almost completely new segment. Leaving out Volkswagen, a key German entity, would be shortsighted.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I had the displeasure of driving the lowest selling model on this list – a G-class Benz. It was an AMG model to boot.

    Absolutely HORRID. The thing felt like it was ready to capsize at any moment. And the chassis was completely overmatched by the engine. This was one of the very few times I’ve ever felt truly scared driving a car.

    AND a six figure sticker price.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      But you LOOKED super cool driving it. FWIW, I don’t really like any of MB’s SUV offerings at this point in time. The G for the reasons you stated, and that the price is ludicrous for what it is (decades old military vehicle with stupid consumption engines). The GL is massively overpriced and not nice inside, nor is it reliable. The ML has been a joke for several years, and is also overpriced. The GLK still looks like a first-gen Highlander, and is not very useful.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I do think that BMW outclasses Mercedes-Benz’ SUVs/crossovers, which quite frankly, don’t feel as special *unless* you purchase a Geländewagen. And I’d have an Audi Q5 over a M-Benz GLK *any day*.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      Not surprised at all. However, if I do strike oil in my backyard, invent the next Facebook AND hit the Powerball, there will be a G63 AMG 6×6 in one of my garages.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I don’t see to many SUVs in the list, mainly CUVs with a sprinkling of SUVs.


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