By on September 16, 2013

TTAC_midsize-luxury-car-sales-chart (1)

Mercedes-Benz E-Class sales shot up 44% in August 2013, a 2008-unit gain. This improvement followed up on July’s 10% year-over-year improvement, which put an end to four consecutive months of decline for the now-recently facelifted E-Class, Mercedes-Benz’s core midsize model.

To Mercedes’ own credit, they’ve built four cars around the E-Class nameplate: a sedan, coupe, convertible, and wagon. (Sales of the CLS-Class fell 4% to 778 units in August.) Comparing the E-Class with cars like, for instance, the Jaguar XF, isn’t necessarily an apples-to-apples contest. But showing the E’s massive 6000+ unit August in the context of cars like the XF (757 August sales) or even the Audi A6 (2110 August sales) highlights just how commonplace the E-Class has become.

The E-Class’s category, however, doesn’t have the presence this year that it did in the first two-thirds of 2012. The still-fresh Lexus GS has taken a big hit. Infiniti’s M, soon to be called the Q70, is increasingly unpopular. In 2012, annual M volume fell below 10,000 units for the second time since 2005. The Volvo S80 – overlooked, ignored, forgotten – attracted fewer buyers during the first eight months of 2013 than the E-Class did in one August week.

The Cadillac CTS, a tweener which has often been compared with cars like the BMW 3-Series based on its value proposition, will be a more direct rival for the E-Class and BMW 5-Series when the third-generation variant arrives. For now, displaying it with these cars, the CTS is relatively popular, but nowhere near as common a purchase/lease as it was a year ago. CTS sales in 2012 slid 17%.

Speaking of BMW, while sales of the 5-Series skyrocketed in August, it’s actually down 32 units this year, a year in which the new vehicle market has grown 9.5%.

Acura’s flagship sedan has reported impressive numbers in 2013, but only if you compare them with the figures posted by the Acura RL last year. Nevertheless, of the 7775 extra Acuras sold so far this year, 2344 can be attributed to the RLX/RL pairing. (The RLX went on sale in February but Acura began combining figures for the new car and old car in May.)

The RLX still plays a low-key role in Acura showrooms, accounting for just 2.4% of all Acura brand sales through eight months. Indeed, only at Jaguar, where the XF is the best-selling car in a four-car lineup, does an automaker’s midsize luxury “sports” sedan generate as large a percentage of the brand’s lineup as the E-Class does at Mercedes-Benz. 21.2% of Mercedes-Benz’s non-Sprinter volume comes from the E-Class quartet.

Setting aside the category’s poor year-to-date performance, August was a great month for midsize luxury car sales. As anticipated, CTS sales slid. As anticipated, so did sales of the S80 and Infiniti M. With huge improvements elsewhere, the segment rose by 4877 units, a 30% improvement.

Expanding the scope to include the Acura TL, Audi A7, Cadillac XTS (and its predecessors), Hyundai Equus, Lexus ES, Lincoln MKS and MKZ, Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, and Volvo’s XC70 wagon produces a very different picture. In that case, August sales shot up 17.9% while the year-to-date total is up 5.4% to 254,856 units, buoyed in large part by the front-wheel-drive Lexus. The $36,370 ES sells more often than anything else in the group. ES volume is up 60% this year.


August 2013
August 2012
% Change
mos. 2013
mos. 2012
% Change
Acura RLX/RL
459 41 + 1020% 2639 295 + 795%
Audi A6
2110 1569 + 34.5% 14,110 11,844 + 19.1%
BMW 5-Series
4359 1688 + 158% 35,107 35,139 – 0.1%
Cadillac CTS
3980 5136 – 22.5% 22,002 35,362 – 37.8%
Infiniti M
491 666 – 26.3% 3808 6259 – 39.2%
Jaguar XF
757 493 + 53.5% 5218 3951 + 32.1%
Lexus GS
2234 1831 + 22.0% 13,024 14,563 – 10.6%
Mercedes-Benz E-Class
6523 4515 + 44.5% 40,359 39,790 + 1.0%
Volvo S80
197 294 – 33.0% 1249 2442 – 48.9%
16,233 + 30.0% 137,516 149,645 – 8.1%
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9 Comments on “Cain’s Segments: Midsize Luxury Vehicles...”

  • avatar

    I’m glad to see that the RLX is doing so well. Afterall, it’s such a great, premium, luxury vehicle, that EASILY bests the German sedans at there own game.

    LOL _ I’d bet good money, both the Genesis and Equus are doing better.

    • 0 avatar

      I had to investigate John Krafcik’s claim that the Equus had a 9.7% of the flagship marketshare in the US, and was thus a successful product because it was higher than Hyundai’s US market share of 7.5%.

      The numbers are incorrect. If you consider the US flagship market to be only the A8, 7, Equus, XJ, LS, and S (and no, I don’t consider the A7, 6 Gran Sport, CLS, Panamera, nor Model S to be competitors), the market share is actually 7%. The US August YTD raw numbers are 2135 Equus’s sold versus a total market of 30,745 flagships.

      Still, I think that’s a success. Good luck in the RLX getting a 0.7% market share.

    • 0 avatar

      The Genesis sedan sold 23k last year despite being late in its life cycle and w/o available AWD, still outselling the newer Infiniti M and the then brand new Lexus GS.

      As for Krafcik’s claim of the Equus having a 9.7% share of the flagship market, I think he was only talking about August sales (there was also a supply issue due to work stoppages in Korea and one of the transports w/ US bound Equus sedans being delayed at sea).

      While not in the same class (being more of a TL competitor), Kia has been selling about 3x as many Cadenzas as Acura has been of the RLX.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Maybe because it’s Monday morning, but I don’t understand the first graph at all . . .

    • 0 avatar

      He is showing model as a percentage of total sales in the make. E.g. the TSX is 26.8% of all Acura sales, whereas the RLX is only 5.5%.

      It would be a more helpful graphic if it were sorted low-to-high instead of alphabetically.

      It’s confusing because the table uses percentages to express growth, but the chart is using percentages of within-make market share. The latter is also not how we usually think of cars… if it’s the CTS we ask “what percent of the midsize lux market?” not “what percent of all Cadillacs?”

  • avatar

    This class is operating pretty much as it always has been, though Cadillac and Audi are definitely taking larger slices of the pie than in model cycles past. The Lexus GS always has about two good years of sales before bombing. The Infiniti M is aging rapidly, and it’s not the value that the last one was. It also looks like a blob, and shares a face with the Nissan Maxima.

    Nobody cares or will ever care about Volvo in this segment. The Acura will get an even shorter blip than the Lexus and bomb even harder. I predict that the AWD hybrid version which will cost what, $70K? and will probably STILL have fake plastic wood trim will mushroom cloud pretty much immediately. In a year dealers won’t be able to give them away with $15K cash on the hood. Perhaps a decent buy for CPO buyers who can come in after 2-3 years and save 50% because resale values will crater like the stadium in Dark Knight Rises.

  • avatar

    Amazing. Not a single midsize premium/luxury car has a model name – all letters, numbers and letter-numbers. Where’s the Belchfire Limited Brougham?

  • avatar

    I can explain the August E-Class numbers in one word “discounts”. Customers at major MB dealers could easily get 12% off the 2014 E-Class sedan that was just refreshed in April.

    When you don’t have a competitive product you focus on price which is why I am now at an Audi/BMW dealer.

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