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Luxury Brand Share Edges Up in 2018 as Premium SUVs Make Inroads

Luxury Brand Share Edges Up in 2018 as Premium SUVs Make Inroads

By Philly Murtha, March 19, 2018
Although the U.S. new-vehicle market skidded by 2.4 points in the first two months of 2018, premium SUVs remain among the hottest categories. In the first two months, best-selling models for each of the 12 major premium brands were premium SUVs.

Some 20 years ago, Lexus introduced its first RX luxury crossover and today, the premium SUV segment continues to burgeon and boost demand, partly due to lower gasoline prices, more premium brand choices with sumptuous and tech-rich interiors, advanced driver-assistance systems, plus dynamic and better powertrains.

Midsize Premium SUVs, led by the Lexus RX Series, Cadillac XT5 and the BMW X5, reaped strong gains through February—the segment was up 8.5% from last year (selling-day adjusted) based on data collected by J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive. Midsize Premium SUV share edged up from 3.1% to 3.3%, or by nearly 5,300 units, in the first two months to 81,165 units delivered. Lexus, the maker of the best-selling midsize premium utility model, sold as many RX Series crossovers as it did sedans and sport premium coupes combined.

In addition, the12 major premium auto brands (Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo) also edged ahead in the first two months of 2018 to garner an 11.5% share vs. 11.1% a year ago. These brands added nearly 7,400 more units to U.S. new car and light-truck totals.

Through February, eight of the top 10 luxury vehicle models were premium SUVs, while only two were cars—the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Four of 10 were Midsize Premium SUVs, including the Lexus RX Series, Cadillac XT5, BMW X5, and Infiniti Q60. Compact premium SUV top-10 sellers also starred: Audi Q5, Lexus NX Series, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and the Acura RDX, respectively.

During calendar 2017, the major premium nameplates advanced their collective market share to 11.8% from 11.6% in 2016, as nearly 2.05 million premium new vehicles were sold in the United States. The Lexus RX Series held onto its overall top-model title even with a dip, while the second-best seller Cadillac XT5 saw a double-digit hike on a percentage basis. Overall, Midsize Premium SUV sales rose 3.4% in 2017 to garner 3.4% market share vs. 3.3% in 2016.
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