Canada’s 10 best-selling luxury vehicles in 2019’s first half
|driving.ca 25 Jul 2019 at 08:33|
Fifteen years ago, over the course of the entire 2004 calendar year, Canadians purchased or leased just under 105,000 premium brand vehicles. Sound like a lot?
During just the first six months of 2019, Canadians purchased or leased just under 105,000 premium brand vehicles. And that’s down from 111,000 during the first six months of 2018.
After years of upward mobility, automobile sales generated by premium brands are taking a hit in 2019. It’s a gut-punch felt by virtually every brand besides upstarts such as Genesis and Tesla. Mercedes-Benz, which in 2004 sold only 34 vehicles per day in Canada, now sells more than 100 cars and SUVs per day.
But Benz sales are down sharply, almost 18 per cent, compared with last year. Double-digit percentage losses are also rocking the boat at Alfa Romeo, Audi, Jaguar and Maserati. Year-over-year declines have also been reported by Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Land Rover and Lincoln.
Premium brands continue to generate substantially more market share today than they did 15, 10 or even five years ago. Their momentum, however, has stalled, just as it has with the overall mainstream market.
It’s a trend you can see not only with Canada’s premium brands but also with the most popular vehicles they sell. Of the 10 top-selling premium-brand vehicles in Canada during 2019’s first half, eight are selling less often this year than last; half are selling far less often. With figures from the manufacturers, GoodCarBadCar.net and Desrosiers Automotive Reports , these are the 10 best-selling premium brand vehicles in Canada so far this year.
Tesla, without model- and market-specific reporting, isn’t visible here. But it’s estimated by InsideEVs that the Model 3 accounted for more than 7,000 of an estimated 9,300 year-to-date Tesla sales. That would, if you consider the Model 3 a premium vehicle, place the most popular Tesla in the No. 1 slot.
Pay little mind to the harshness of the GLE’s decline. Formerly known as the M-Class, the GLE has finally transitioned into an all-new model, something that isn’t just a renamed SUV from 2012. June sales of the new GLE, for example, jumped 10 per cent to 596 units, good enough for seventh among premium-brand vehicles.
In some ways, 2014 seems like a distant memory. Kawhi Leonard was busy winning his first NBA championship, Scotland voted to remain (a part of the United Kingdom) and Canada’s men’s hockey team allowed only three goals in six games at the Sochi Olympics. Oh, and the BMW 3 Series was Canada’s best-selling premium-brand vehicle with more than 10,000 sales by year’s end. The 3 Series is on track for a full-year 2019 result of 5,000 sales.
Following 2016’s record result with nearly 7,000 X5 sales in Canada, sales of BMW’s first-ever SUV nameplate began to dwindle in 2017 and again in 2018. In 2019, with an all-new X5 coming on strong, the X5 is poised to break its own sales record. The X5’s $71,500 point-of-entry places the BMW in another pricing spectrum compared to most other vehicles on this list of top-sellers — the next-most-costly vehicle starts in the mid-$60,000s and doesn’t sell as well as the BMW.
Proudly wearing its ostentatious Lexus grille, there’s no missing an NX300 or NX300h in traffic. That initially controversial face has worked wonders for the NX, however, which consistently ranks as one of Canada’s top-selling premium brand vehicles. Prior to 2019’s first-half decline, NX sales had grown consistently, rising 28 per cent over its first four years on the market.
Imagine a civil suit has been filed against the future of the premium passenger car sector. You’re allowed to present only one piece of evidence. Perhaps the one-third year-over-year decline of the best-selling car at Canada’s best-selling premium brand would be that piece of evidence, particularly when you consider that C-Class sales had already fallen 11 per cent in calendar year 2018.
Not by a small margin, BMW broke its Canadian X3 sales record in calendar year 2018. In fact, the new X3 smashed the record by producing 8,296 sales, a result 45 per cent stronger than the prior record. The X3 has, not unpredictably, slowed from that breakneck growth rate, but it remains the top-selling vehicle at Canada’s No. 2 luxury auto brand.
The Lexus RX has long been the top dog among premium vehicles in the United States. In fact, the RX is presently outselling America’s next-best-selling premium utility vehicle by a 52-per-cent margin. But the most popular Lexus in Canada doesn’t yet seem to be benefiting in any obvious way from the addition of a three-row RX L model, which has a base MSRP 20 per cent higher than the regular RX. The RX must now also share its showroom with two more affordable Lexus crossovers, the NX and UX, which account for four out of every 10 Lexus sales in Canada.
Now in its third generation, the Acura RDX is more boldly styled than ever before and more deserving of critical praise. It’s also more important to Honda’s upmarket marque than ever before. A full 45 per cent of Acura’s Canadian volume is now produced by the RDX. That’s up from around one-third five years ago; and less than one-fifth a decade ago. Acura cars generate scant volume, while MDX sales are down 14 per cent this year.
Closing in on the top position, the best-selling vehicle at Canada’s best-selling premium brand is quickly approaching the levels of success many mainstream SUVs and crossovers wish for. The GLC, for example, is currently outselling the Subaru Outback, Mazda CX-3, Ford Explorer, Jeep Compass and Volkswagen Atlas, among numerous others. The GLC’s GLK forerunner, by no means an unsuccessful luxury utility, averaged around 5,500 annual sales during its tenure, roughly the volume generated by the GLC in the first half of 2019.
If in recent years Audi’s trajectory fell in lock step with the trend of the brand’s best-selling Q5, the SUV’s now just a symbol of Audi’s rapid decline. Audi sales skyrocketed over the course of 13 years, more than quadrupling between 2006 and 2018. Of late, the Q5’s knack for topping the sales chart – leading all luxury SUVs/crossovers in each of the last four years – was a major factor in propelling Audi forward. The Q5 is quite obviously still a top-seller, but its eight-per-cent decline in 2019’s first half is a big part of the Audi brand’s 21-per-cent slide this year.