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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    More Luxury Car Buyers Are Moving to Trucks and SUVs

      American automakers are cleaning up here.

    If you have been following auto sales for the past few years, then you know that SUVs and trucks currently dominate the sales charts partly due to the low gas prices. This is especially true when it comes to the luxury segment, where utility models are eating sedans. But a new report from The New York Times reveals that American automakers are eating the lunches of luxury car manufacturers. 

    According to data from Edmunds, the likes of Ford, Chevrolet, and GMC have seen their share of domestic sales of models with an average price of $60,000 steadily climbing, while luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Lexus have been declining. GMC, in particular, has shown the largest growth, accounting 11.3 percent of domestic sales of $60,000-plus models in 2017. Five years ago, the brand only made up 0.1 percent of those sales. A lot of this credit can be laid at the feet of GMC's Denali brands. At a recent investor conference, GM showed data that the Denali line had an average sale price of $56,000 - more than the average price of an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz.

    “This thing is a money machine,” said GM's president Dan Ammann about Denali.

    Over at Ford, more than half of F-150 sales are made up by the Lariat, King Ranch, Raptor models. Only a few years ago, those models made up a third.

    Why are American automakers seeing a massive increase in expensive SUVs and trucks? Part of it comes down to price, but there is also the image.

    “We’ve been taking in Lexuses on trade-ins, BMWs," said Gary Gilchrist, owner of a GMC dealer in Tacoma, Washington.

    “People used to want German cars for the image factor. Now, if you have a Denali, you get that. People turn their heads to look.”

    Source: New York Times



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    I think a lot of the growth is due to pick ups being more and more expensive, and cars in general being more expensive.   BMW and Mercedes have had record sales years the past 4 or so years in the USA, so it isn't like they are losing ground.   25 years ago a Cadillac Eldorado was $32,000, today that is V6 Camry.  

    A lot of people trading luxury sedans are going to luxury SUVs, and the Europeans make a ton of luxury SUVs.  I think the Japanese brands are more behind on this trend other than the Lexus RX going strong.  And for as much money as GME makes on Denali, I bet if Cadillac had all those SUVs they'd be making even more.

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    This Denali sales thing with the fact that GMC sold approx 33K versus Cadillac 9K does make one wonder if GM shut down Cadillac, could GMC be their Luxury line, Buick Mid and Chevy Entry and reduce costs?

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    25 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    This Denali sales thing with the fact that GMC sold approx 33K versus Cadillac 9K does make one wonder if GM shut down Cadillac, could GMC be their Luxury line, Buick Mid and Chevy Entry and reduce costs?

    Why didn't they make Cadillac their luxury line in the first place instead of product starving it, and trying to clone BMW sedans?  During the bankruptcy I thought GMC should have become a commercial truck line, sort of like Ram with their vans or the Ford commercial with Transit and F-series and then all the fleet and commercial sales are in one place.  Chevy wouldn't have to do that at all.  And Cadillac could have a big product influx of luxury SUVs.

    But now they are where they are and can't turn back.  Cadillac is a mess, but there is no reason GM couldn't figure out a way to make a base Cadillac SUV the equal price of a loaded Denali.

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    • Cadillac is a luxury brand, not a full-line manufacturer. Still, they have more model lines today than they had in the 1970s. And the brand has never "cloned" BMW, they've progressed, along with BMW, to where sporty luxury vehicles are today in answer to market trends. So they weren't there first- who cares. By the same token, BMW & MB "cloned" Cadillac's level of tech, amenities and luxury in their interiors since the 1980s. But we've been over that before.

    • GMC, like Ammann said above, is minting money, the margins on pure commercial vehicles is not comparable. Chevy sold 8,348 commercial trucks and 69,164 Express vans, for a total of 77,507 units as pure commercial trucks. It'd take a special kind of idiocy to contemplate dropping GMC's highly profitable and huge volume (560K in 2017) to sell only low-margin commercial trucks of 80K units. GMC doesn't WANT to "turn back". And Cadillac is adding more SUVs just like every other luxury brand over the last 5 years is doing.

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    53 minutes ago, balthazar said:

    • Cadillac is a luxury brand, not a full-line manufacturer. Still, they have more model lines today than they had in the 1970s. And the brand has never "cloned" BMW, they've progressed, along with BMW, to where sporty luxury vehicles are today in answer to market trends. So they weren't there first- who cares. By the same token, BMW & MB "cloned" Cadillac's level of tech, amenities and luxury in their interiors since the 1980s. But we've been over that before.

    • GMC, like Ammann said above, is minting money, the margins on pure commercial vehicles is not comparable. Chevy sold 8,348 commercial trucks and 69,164 Express vans, for a total of 77,507 units as pure commercial trucks. It'd take a special kind of idiocy to contemplate dropping GMC's highly profitable and huge volume (560K in 2017) to sell only low-margin commercial trucks of 80K units. GMC doesn't WANT to "turn back". And Cadillac is adding more SUVs just like every other luxury brand over the last 5 years is doing.

    GMC sells 29% Denali, so that would be 162,000 in 2017.  If you factor out Sierra's let's just say it is 100,000 SUVs.  That is 100,000 SUVs that could have been sold as a Cadillac at a $5-10,000 premium over what they got for a Denali. 

    I did during bankruptcy think if GMC didn't go the commercial route, they should go 100% Denali, and that Denali should be their standard car to distance itself from Chevy, so a Terrain would base at $35k, Acadia base at $45k, and Yukon be priced equal to Escalade at $80k base and then you can offer an Ultimate package or something to jack the price up more.  Or make Denali trim and price the standard, and offer a performance trim like V-series, and get a Corvette V8 in the Terrain, because the Germans will sell you a 500 hp V8 in an SUV the size of the Terrain.

    Edited by smk4565

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    2 hours ago, smk4565 said:

    GMC sells 29% Denali, so that would be 162,000 in 2017...

    I did during bankruptcy think if GMC didn't go the commercial route, they should go 100% Denali, and that Denali should be their standard car to distance itself from Chevy...

    Your suggestions for General Motors are always way out in the weeds. 'GMC should have gone 100% commercial' (and cut sales by a half million) 'or 100% Denali' (and cut sales by 70% by eliminating the non-Denali buyers). Wacked.

    GMC is doing EXCELLENT at 'differentiating themselves from Chevrolet' according to your #1 metric: SALES. Imagine if MB created another brand called 'Daimler', which was some different panels, grilles, trimwork, a couple different models, and earned another 550,000 sales at higher ATPs than the Mercedes line. That's what GMC is doing!

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    2 hours ago, NINETY EIGHT REGENCY said:

    Chevrolet has a response to GMC Denali sub brand:

     

     

     

    Nice auto's but not equal to a Denali especially in the looks department. These are too bland to say Luxury or even mid luxury IMHO.

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    1 hour ago, balthazar said:

    Your suggestions for General Motors are always way out in the weeds. 'GMC should have gone 100% commercial' (and cut sales by a half million) 'or 100% Denali' (and cut sales by 70% by eliminating the non-Denali buyers). Wacked.

    GMC is doing EXCELLENT at 'differentiating themselves from Chevrolet' according to your #1 metric: SALES. Imagine if MB created another brand called 'Daimler', which was some different panels, grilles, trimwork, a couple different models, and earned another 550,000 sales at higher ATPs than the Mercedes line. That's what GMC is doing!

    But GMC doesn't really add 550,000 new sales, it just takes 550,000 sales off Chevy, which is why Ford outsells Chevy.  Granted it takes 550,000 Chevy sales and ups the transaction price which is a profit maker.  But what if Cadillac had another 250,000 sales (assuming you take out the pickups and vans at GMC) if they could move those people up to Cadillac and get even bigger prices.

    GM actually does a really good job with the GMC-Buick sales channel, moving people up from Chevy to there, because I suspect a lot of Buick/GMC buyers are long time GMers that want something nicer than their old Malibu or Equinox but aren't going to buy a luxury brand, and GM has always been a strong SUV company.  

    Where it falls down is getting those Buick-GMC people into Cadillac or getting people from Chevy to Cadillac.  A Cadillac should be head and shoulders better than any Denali product, those Denali buyers should dream of having a Cadillac, heck Corvette buyers should want to upgrade to a Cadillac sports car.

    Daimler doesn't need another brand, they have the Maybach and AMG sub-brands like Denali is, and they can go from entry lux to and move people all the way up to $200,000+ vehicles and million dollar hyper car.

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    26 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

    But GMC doesn't really add 550,000 new sales, it just takes 550,000 sales off Chevy, which is why Ford outsells Chevy.  Granted it takes 550,000 Chevy sales and ups the transaction price which is a profit maker.  But what if Cadillac had another 250,000 sales...

    Once again- this makes no sense. Why don't buyers just buy all Chevrolet trucks if 'GMC is taking away from Chevy'? Your allegation -if true- would take care of itself and GMC would dwindle to nothing and be shuttered. Must be something there resonating with buyers.

    But Cadillac is not looking for another 250K sales of trucks/SUVs here, that volume is beyond their mission. So the 'what if' is 'Cadillac doesn't need it', just like mercedes doesn't need another brand.

    And BTW, I've brought this up before but once again it's pertinent : Daimler should have made their commercial vehicles all 'Freightliner' when they had the chance, but "it's too late to turn back now".

    GM actually does a really good job with the GMC-Buick sales channel...  Where it falls down is getting those Buick-GMC people into Cadillac or getting people from Chevy to Cadillac.

    Look at all the trouble Daimler has moving CLA buyers up to the s-class. Same scenario.

    You labor under the erroneous assumption these 2 corporations (GM & daimler) are vastly different, when they are shockingly close in many ways.

    • Upvote 1

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    GM closed Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer and is selling more cars with 4 brands than they did with 8.  If GMC was gone, some sales would go away but a lot would stay at GM.  But if the argument is the more GMC Denali GM sells the better because it is a cash cow, the same needs to hold true for Cadillac.  Because in theory, a base model Cadillac should have the same profit margin as a Denali.

    But to the point of this article about trucks getting a bigger share of $60k plus sales that is mostly due to inflation.  You could say Toyota has a bigger share of $30k plus sales than they did 10 years ago, and they didn’t move up market, cars just got crazy expensive.

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    1 hour ago, smk4565 said:

    GM closed Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer and is selling more cars with 4 brands than they did with 8.

    They sold 3.0 million in 2017 with 4 brands, and 9 million in 2007 with 8. They buyers didn't stay when those other brands were shuttered. And your theory about base model Cadillacs (Cadillac doesn't sell ANY cars at base MSRP, BTW) selling at the same margin as GMC Denalis has not even been conceived by anyone else. Again I point you to your pet brand- does the base e-class have the same margin as the C63? How is this any sort of 'theory'?

    Quote

    But to the point of this article about trucks getting a bigger share of $60k plus sales that is mostly due to inflation.

    Read it again.

    Edited by balthazar

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    So where did the other six million in sales go?  Hyundai/Kia? Toyota or Honda?

    As for the sales figures in this post, Cadillac needs a Enclave-sized CUV to go along with the Escalade STAT.

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    54 minutes ago, balthazar said:

    They sold 3.0 million in 2017 with 4 brands, and 9 million in 2007 with 8. They buyers didn't stay when those other brands were shuttered. And your theory about base model Cadillacs (Cadillac doesn't sell ANY cars at base MSRP, BTW) selling at the same margin as GMC Denalis has not even been conceived by anyone else. Again I point you to your pet brand- does the base e-class have the same margin as the C63? How is this any sort of 'theory'?

    Read it again.

    I mean a Cadillac XT4 should have the same or better margins than a terrain Denali, an XT5 the same or better margin as the Acadia Denali, etc.  if all these crossovers were at Cadillac GM would make more money.  Instead they develop ed 2 mid-level crossover lines that overlap and starved the luxury line.  

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    So what did you mean when you said 'GM is selling more with 4 less brands' -- that they were actually selling way less? :rolleyes:

    Quote

     if all these crossovers were at Cadillac GM would make more money. 


    GM is already making Daimler money on far lower margins. But no responsible manager would flood Cadillac with a dozen more CUV/SUVs ("all these"), it's lunacy. BMW isn't making a profit on the X4 or X6- just piling model after model on doesn't make for a good business case. Maybe some years ago when everyone from Bentley to Lamborghini wasn't jumping on the GM bandwagon (Suburban : 1935), but the competition in the CUV/SUV segment is now as stiff as it ever was in the sedan segment. Needs to be done right.

    Cadillac's XT5 is a smash hit in a segment they've never been in before. Next up: XT4- let's see how it comes out of the oven.

    Edited by balthazar

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    GM sold 2.2 million cars in the USA in 2010 and they sold 3.0 million in the USA in 2017.  Worldwide they grew too but because China grew a ton, I used USA numbers because Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer were sold here.

    XT4 should rob a lot of sales off the Envision and Terrain, but that is a good thing, they will make more money on a Cadillac.  But if Cadillac can’t sell more $60,0000+ vehicles than GMC, why is Cadillac still here?

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    4 hours ago, smk4565 said:

    GM sold 2.2 million cars in the USA in 2010 and they sold 3.0 million in the USA in 2017.

    How did I know you were going to use a year mere months from the globe-wide recession of '08-09?
     

    Quote

    ...if Cadillac can’t sell more $60,0000+ vehicles than GMC, why is Cadillac still here?

    To sell high performance and/or luxury product to buyers wanting a Cadillac, same thing they've done countless times over their 128 year history. Imagine that.

    Edited by balthazar

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    34 minutes ago, balthazar said:

    How did I know you were going to use a year mere months from the globe-wide recession of '08-09?
     

    To sell high performance and/or luxury product to buyers wanting a Cadillac, same thing they've done countless times over their 128 year history. Imagine that.

    In 2005 when there were 17.5 million cars sold in the US, similar to 2016 and 2017, GM sold 4.5 million cars but lost $10 billion dollars.  So that was pointless.   Worldwide in 2006 GM sold 8.97 million cars, vs 7.93 million last year, so down a million, but GM sold 9.6 million cars in 2014 worldwide, after dumping 4 brands.  Their sales are still pretty close with half the brands that they had 10-15 years ago, and most of those brands lost money.

     

    If Cadillac is here to sell high performance luxury product, where is the product?  Crossover is the #1 body style now, I don't see any performance crossovers or even high luxury ones.  And they have 2 performance sedans dying on the vine, no sports cars.  

     

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    They're not here to sell in every segment like a full-line mass-production mainstream corporate manufacturer [does that sound like any other OEM you know of?]

    Their performance-options cars are doing fine; still available & still immensely regarded. BMW just released specs on their new M5, which obviously benchmarked the CTS-V's performance numbers. Next generation is in development now, and the lead there will swap again.

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    2 hours ago, balthazar said:

    They're not here to sell in every segment like a full-line mass-production mainstream corporate manufacturer [does that sound like any other OEM you know of?]

    Their performance-options cars are doing fine; still available & still immensely regarded. BMW just released specs on their new M5, which obviously benchmarked the CTS-V's performance numbers. Next generation is in development now, and the lead there will swap again.

    The Genesis G80 outsold the CTS and CT6 last year (individually not combined), I wouldn't say Cadillac is doing fine.  But if you want performance and a crossover, Cadillac is missing the market, they have nothing there, while Audi, BMW, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover all do.  

    Here is the problem with BMW and Cadillac, they thought the M5 and CTS-V were the ultimate performance sedans, the top performance car of their brands.  They didn't think to make them their mid-level performance sedan, where as Mercedes has decided to go next level:

    Mercedes-AMG-GT-Coupe-Teaser-1.jpg

    And we get to see it in March!  Game on if Cadillac and BMW want to step their game up.  Porsche has the Panamera E-hybrid at the top of their range, but an E63 is as fast as that thing. 

    And AMG is going to use F1 tech in their cars as they move toward electrification.  The perfect item to use would be their electric motor that spins to 50,000 rpm, vs 18,000 rpm on a Tesla Model S and they are tiny, and each one makes 160 hp. One at each wheel and you have a 640 hp EV using hardly any packaging space or weight.  They are going to leave Ferrari in the weeds, let alone the M5.

    mercedes-amg-project-one-powertrain-3-63

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    50 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

    The Genesis G80 outsold the CTS and CT6 last year (individually not combined), I wouldn't say Cadillac is doing fine.

    • I would. I'd like to see domestic sales @ 200K as a ceiling. XT4 will put them there after it's first full year. That's why the brand doesn't need any 'CT3' or 'XT2', besides the fact Cadillac shouldn't be so far downmarket.

    • Panamera E sold 18 copies last year, 1 more than the discontinued/leftover Cadillac ELR. It's basically a rumor.

    Quote

    we get to see it in March!

    Everyone already has seen it - it'll look like every other 21 sedans MB has.

    Edited by balthazar
    • Upvote 1

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    Cadillac can go up market,  the XT4 will be sized and priced like Ann a Envision or Terrain Denali, which just gives GM 3 vehicles in the same space.  Granted it is the sweet sport of the market and Cadillac needs a small SUV.  Total mystery to me as to why Cadillac doesn’t have a crossover with a CTS-V engine or an electric crossover.  GM is the Bolt, why can’t they scale that up to a mid-size SUV with double the motors for Cadillac?

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    A CTS-V-engined XT5 would be pretty cool but like all of those hi-po SUVs, they just don't sell (your metric). EV versions are no doubt coming, but customers there are few & far between. Again I mention porsche; they sold 6,713 gas-engined Panamera's in the US last year, and 18 "top of the line" E's. That's 0.002%.

    And THAT'S the answer to your "total mystery" of why there's not an electric Cadillac CUV (yet).

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    11 hours ago, smk4565 said:

     

    Mercedes-AMG-GT-Coupe-Teaser-1.jpg

    What a joke of a picture, move the smoke down to the front of the car and see how well it slips around the whole car and not just on top of the hood. These tests are a joke and waste of time as any car today pretty much slips through the air when you have minimal resistance. Lets see how it really fares when you have the actual front of the car hitting the smoke. Doubt there is that good of a CD and what a tired worn look for a car, this could be any of their products from S-Class down to A-Class they all look the same and are just bland boring overpriced Toyota / Chevrolet equal auto's.

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      General Motors Co. - Not Reported
      Tesla - Not Reported
      FCA has announced that beginning October 2019, they will be reporting sales quarterly
      Monthly:
      Audi of America -  Down 2.2% for the month, Down 7.3% for the year
      BMW of North America -  Down 3.1% for the month, Down 2.3% for the year
      FCA US LLC -  Up 2% for the month, Down 3% for the year
      Genesis Motor America - Not Reported
      Honda Motor Co. -  Down 4.9% for the month,  Flat 0.0% for the year
      Hyundai Motor America -  Up 1.8% for the month, Up 1.74% for the year
      Infiniti USA - Down 10.4% for the month, Down 13.4% for the year
      Jaguar Land Rover North America - Down 1.2% for the month, Up 7.3% for the year
      Kia Motors America - Up 1.0% for the month, Up 4.7% for the year
      Mazda North American Operations - Down 16.0%  for the month, Down 15.5% for the year
      Mercedes-Benz USA - Down 0.5% for the month, Down 8.6% for the year
      Mitsubishi Motors North America -  Down 21.5% for the month, Up 4.6% for the year
      Nissan Group - Up 0.1% for the month, Down 6.6% for the year
      Porsche Cars North America Inc. -  Up 0.1% for the month, Up 2.1% for the year
      Subaru of America, Inc. - Up 6.4% for the month, Up 5.7% for the year
      Toyota Motor North America - Up 3.2% for the month, Down 3.1% for the year
      Volkswagen of America -  Up 14% for the month, Up 6.2% for the year
      Volvo Cars of North America, LLC - Up 4.5% for the month, Up 12.7% for the year

      Brands (Quarterly):
      Buick -  Not Reported
      Cadillac -  Not Reported
      Chevrolet - Not Reported
      GMC - Not Reported
      Ford - Not Reported
      Lincoln - Not Reported
      Tesla - Not Reported

      Brands (Monthly):
      Acura - Up 5.7% - 13,547 MTD / 61,619 YTD
      Alfa Romeo - Down 34% - 1,572 MTD / 7,442 YTD
      Audi - Down 2.2% 18,892 MTD / 82,031 YTD
      BMW - Up 1.7% - 27,109 MTD / 124,813 YTD
      Chrysler - Down 26% - 10,903 MTD / 51,481 YTD
      Dodge - Up 3% - 47,759 MTD / 204,546 YTD
      Fiat - Down 29% - 1,025 MTD / 4,170 YTD
      Genesis - Not reported
      Honda - Down 5.9% - 131,985 MTD / 579,475 YTD
      Hyundai - Up 1.8% - 66,121 MTD / 269,126 YTD
      Infiniti - Down 10.4% - 10,413 MTD / 53,219 YTD
      Jaguar - Down 14.6% - 2,021 MTD
      Jeep - Down 7% - 90,326 MTD / 379,455 YTD
      Kia - Up 1.0% - 60,062 MTD / 248,043 YTD
      Land Rover -  Up 3.3% 7,337 MTD
      Lexus - Down 3.4% - 24,537 MTD  / 112,688 YTD
      Mazda - Down 16% - 25,192 MTD / 115,727 YTD
      Mercedes-Benz - Up 0.4% 27,080 MTD / 121,200 YTD
      Mercedes-Benz Vans - Down 7.7% - 2,862 MTD / 13,020 YTD
      MINI - Down 33.2% - 2,822 MTD / 14,348 YTD
      Mitsubishi - Down 21.5% - 9,750 MTD / 58,780 YTD
      Nissan - Up 1.1% - 121,570 MTD / 540,313 YTD
      Porsche - Up 0.1% - 5,010 MTD / 25,052 YTD
      Ram Trucks - Up 29% - 67,117 MTD / 257,941 YTD
      Smart - Down 3.6% - 106 MTD / 422 YTD
      Subaru - Up 6.4% - 63,972 MTD / 278,014 YTD
      Toyota - Up 4.1% - 197,637 MTD / 837,068 YTD
      Volkswagen - Up 14% - 35,702 MTD / 152,883 YTD
      Volvo - Up 4.5% - 9,338 MTD / 37,754 YTD
    • By Drew Dowdell
      Volvo Cars posted strong sales in May, with volumes up 12.4 per cent compared with the same period last year.
      The company sold 60,196 cars during the month, as China, Europe and the US all reported a growth in sales compared with the same period last year.
      The double digit volume growth in May was led by the continued strong demand for Volvo’s award-winning SUV range led by the XC60, and followed by the XC40 and XC90. Volvo’s latest models, the V60 estate and the US-built S60 sedan, also contributed to the strong performance.
      In the January to May period, Volvo sold a total of 278,051 cars – up 9.6 per cent, compared with the same period last year.
      China reported a strong sales growth of 17.4 per cent in May compared with the same period last year. Total sales in the region reached 12,425 cars during the month. The growth came on the back of high demand for the locally assembled XC60 and S90 models.
      European sales in May grew 16.9 per cent to 29,681 cars, led by strong demand for the XC60, followed by the XC40 and the V60 estate.
      US sales reached 9,761 cars in May, up 4.5 per cent compared with the same period last year. XC90 was the best selling car in the region followed by the XC60.
      A detailed break-up of regional sales is given below:
       
        May
          January-May
          2018
      2019
      Change
      2018
      2019
      Change
      Europe
      25,395
      29,681
      16.9%
      131,267
      144,164
      9.8%
      China
      10,582
      12,425
      17.4%
      49,792
      54,503
      9.5%
      US
      9,338
      9,761
      4.5%
      37,754
      40,186
      6.4%
      Other
      8,224
      8,329
      1.3%
      34,768
      39,198
      12.7%
      Total
      53,539
      60,196
      12.4%
      253,581
      278,051
      9.6%

      In May, the XC60 was the top selling model with sales reaching 17,510 cars (2018: 16,171), followed by the XC40, with total sales at 10,574 cars (2018: 5,413 units), and the Volvo XC90 at 8,621 cars (2018: 7,979 units).
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