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New model launches to fuel global coupé sales in 2017

23 January 2017 IHS Markit Automotive Expert

Coupé sales are currently buoyant as a result of a raft of new model launches and midlife refreshes.

IHS Markit perspective

  • Significance: Global coupé sales will rise in 2017 as a result of a number of new models and key model revisions.
  • Implications: Coupés make up a relatively small proportion of the global market in terms of body style but OEMs like them as they share platforms and powertrains with conventional sedan designs, while commanding a higher price.
  • Outlook: For 2017, IHS Automotive forecasts that sales will increase by 3.4% y/y as a result of the confluence of a number of launch dates and midlife revisions for key models.

In 2017 there will be a raft of new model launches in the coupé segment that will substantially boost sales of the body style. In addition to brand new model launches such as the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé and the second-generation Audi A5, there will also be mid-life revisions to key models in the segment such as the BMW 4-Series and the Ford Mustang. Meanwhile there have been recent model launches such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé, which is still very early in its model cycle and which have gained a strong following quite quickly in the market, and the performance of this model will also help boost 2017 coupé sales. Click on chart below for an enlarged view.

For 2017 IHS Automotive forecasts that global D- and E-segment coupé sales will increase by 3.4% y/y to 583,000 units as a result of the new model launches mentioned above. However, the nature of key models will mean that the uplift in Western Europe will be even more marked. The A5 and 4-Series are very popular models in this region, while the E-Class Coupé will also consolidate growth in the region. The growth between 2015 and 2017 will be especially marked in Western Europe as a result of the above-mentioned C-Class Coupé and the launch of the new Mustang across the region, with sales rising by 25% in the region across the two-year period.

Outlook and implications

Global and Western European coupé sales are currently on a robust upward growth track as a result of the large number of key new model launches and model revisions in recent years, and key new model launches this year such as the second-generation Audi A5. The new A5 is understandably an evolutionary design of the first-generation model. The quality of the design of the original A5 is confirmed by the fact the model had a near 10-year model cycle with only relatively minor revisions and more modern powertrains being added during that period. Indeed the former VW Group's director of design Walter da Silva said during the original A5's launch at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show that it was the most beautiful car he had ever designed. Styling is a hugely important component of the success of coupé models. By definition they are not aimed at family buyers as they only have two doors, so they are often bought as a lifestyle and status purchase by younger buyers or by wealthy older buyers whose children have left home. Although the new A5 has taken a very evolutionary approach to its styling, other recent entries such as the C-Class Coupé have taken a far more radical approach in comparison to its predecessor. The C-Class Coupé is the perfect example of the dynamic and sensuous design style that has been introduced by Mercedes-Benz's head of design Gorden Wagener in recent years in order to attract a younger generation of buyers. It is likely to be the same when the larger E-Class Coupé is launched later this year. Globally, the Ford Mustang is the best-selling coupé and the comparatively early refresh of the vehicle in the current model cycle will keep sales buoyant, although it will not generate a massive uplift. The importance of the US to the coupé market is confirmed by the top-three nameplate positions being occupied by US brand models aimed at the US market, with the Mustang being followed by the Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro. OEMs like coupés because they use the same platforms, component systems and powertrains as equivalent sedan designs, so they are cost-effective to develop and manufacture, while at the same time they generally have higher pricing than the models they are based on, while buyers tend to add more equipment to coupés. Although coupés generally by definition have two doors, many OEMs have in recent years extended their ranges with four-door models based on coupés such as the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4-Series Gran Coupé, which have added further diversity and momentum to the segment.

About this article

The above article is from IHS Automotive Same-Day Analysis of automotive news, events and trends, and is a deliverable of the World Markets Automotive Service. The service averages thirty stories per day and also provides competitor and country intelligence. Get a free trial.

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