SUV boom providing opportunities for niche car brands

Audi, Infiniti and Jaguar on the up

An interesting analysis of recent car sales trends in the U.S. has shown a phenomenon that many may not have seen coming – a car buyer shift away from the ‘big boys’ to niche-type brands.

And it’s the growing demand for SUVs that appears to be spurring most of that change.

Edmunds latest Luxury Market Report has analysed both the June 2017 U.S. car sales data, and the data across the first six months of year, both show a turn away from brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

While traditionally ‘niche’ car brands such as Audi (+6%), Infiniti (+24%) and Jaguar (+115%) all gained customers.

Analyst, Jessica Caldwell, says the market is shifting quickly.

“When the legacy luxury brands first began offering affordable smaller vehicles, it was seen as a risk to their brand image, but they were quickly rewarded with new customers and growing sales,”

“But now as the smaller luxury brands also start to diversify their line-ups and introduce SUVs that appeal to a broader audience, the major brands are confronted with a real threat.”

Overall, luxury car sales in the U.S. were down 6% across the first half of the year, while sales of luxury SUVs have grown 7%.

While a record 32.2% of buyers who purchased a luxury vehicle with a trade-in did so with a non-luxury model.

That figure is up from 28.5% five years ago.

“Luxury shoppers always want the niche, exclusive choice, and when you offer a product for every price point, that cachet starts to fade,” said Caldwell.

“But as the industry envisions an autonomous future, the high-end ownership market will start to shift toward vehicles that offer the best and latest autonomous features and technologies.

“For many buyers, these high-tech features create the exclusivity that defines luxury.”

Did you see the Australian June 2017 car sales numbers? Check out the months winners and losers.

About Chris Miller 573 Articles
Chris is a writer, co-host of the Behind the Wheel podcast and a self declared car tragic . He is a radio broadcaster by trade and reports traffic for 774 ABC Melbourne, FOX FM and Smooth FM. He also presents a national traffic report on ABC News Radio.

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