Sales of the Audi Q7 in 2014 rose to a seven-year high in the United States. That’s a meaningful bit of information right there, given that the Q7 at your local Audi dealer now is basically the Q7 that first arrived at your local Audi dealer in 2006.
North of the border, Canadians registered more new Q7s in the first eleven months of 2014 than in any previous full calendar year. Q7 sales in both Canada and the United States have increased in each of the last five years.
It’s by no means the highest-volume player in the luxury SUV world, not in 2007 when U.S. Q7 volume peaked at 20,695 units; not in 2014 when the Q7 is outsold by low-volume premium brand utility vehicles like the BMW X1, Lexus GX460, and Volvo XC60. (Would the Q7 sell more often if Audi added the letter X to its badge? Probably not. Maybe. Definitely.)
But what impresses about the Q7 is not the number of sales, rather that the totals increase as the vehicle ages. Audi’s four rings have presented numerous vehicles with opportunities for growth late in their lifecycles. Q5 volume, for example, has only ever increased, from 13,790 units in 2009 to 23,518 in 2010, 24,908 in 2011, 28,671 in 2012, 40,355 in 2013, and possibly more than 42,000 in 2014, its sixth year on the market.
The expansion of the U.S. new vehicle market has assisted, as well. 2013 volume across the industry rose 7.5%. Through the first eleven months of 2014, sales are up 5.5%. The utility vehicle sector is up nearly 12% this year. But growth in the overall industry does not assure all vehicles of increased sales year after year after year on the back of nothing more than modest updates and upgrades. Otherwise, we wouldn’t see decreased sales in 2014 from the Mazda CX-9, Lincoln MKT, Infiniti QX70, Honda Pilot, Volkswagen Tiguan, Toyota Sequoia, BMW X1, Ford Edge, Nissan Armada, Nissan Pathfiner, GMC Acadia, Kia Sorento, Volvo XC60, Cadillac SRX, Volkswagen Touareg and numerous others, many of which, like the Q7, are aging vehicles about to be replaced.
The Q7, however, is part of the scorching hot Audi brand. With one month remaining, 2014 was already the fifth consecutive year of record sales at Audi. The brand set U.S. sales records in 47 consecutive months through November. Brand-wide sales are up 15% this year, a gain of 21,725 units through eleven months. In November, when the industry grew at a 5% clip, Audi sales shot up 22% with help from new products (A3, Q3) and solid growth from the Q5 (up 17%) and the Q7, which climbed 15%.
If Audi can expand its Q7 owner base with a model that’s seen two presidential and two mid-term election cycles come and go, what might the second-generation Q7 achieve? Audi’s gradual climb toward the top of the premium leaderboard continues. In the U.S., they’re outselling Cadillac and Acura this year, something Audi couldn’t do in 2013.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.