Any discussion about flagship luxury sedans usually gets around to mentioning the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and/or Lexus LS, long the dominant players in this space. Five years ago, these three models by themselves accounted for 82% of all large luxury sedan registrations, with the S-Class alone claiming almost 30%.
Recently, though, the field has become more crowded, and these three leaders are now facing some serious competition. During the 12-month period from June 2010 through this past May, these three models' combined share slipped to 68% while three other vehicles have gained ground. The recently re-designed Audi A8 has captured more than 5% of the segment, almost double of a year ago when it was being launched. The Jaguar XJ now accounts for almost 12% of segment registrations, up from almost nothing a year ago when it also was being launched and its highest tally by a wide margin in the past five years. Lastly, the Porsche Panamera now accounts for more than 14% of segment deliveries, an impressive showing given that this is just its second year on the market. These three models have succeeded in gaining a foothold in a segment previously dominated by three makes renowned for high customer retention, customer loyalty, and make loyalty as well as highly profitable and effective dealer networks.
One of the reasons for the Panamera's ascent is that it offers a six-cylinder engine, an increasingly popular powertrain in this category and one that now accounts for 13% of segment deliveries. Polk's light vehicle forecast suggests six-cylinder engines will continue to gain favor as gas prices remain elevated and CAFÉ requirements take their toll. This bodes well for the 7-Series, S-Class and Panamera, all of which now offer such a powertrain.
Posted by Tom Libby, PolkInsight Advisor, Polk (08.05.2011)