Defining automotive luxury has never been an easy task. In fact, simply trying to define automotive luxury is an important part of marketing virtually any so-called premium brand; trying to clarify what distinguishes a Range Rover from a Rogue or a Navigator from a Trailblazer.
Is it the quality of the leather? Could it be the adjustability of the mood lighting, or is it newfangled technology? Or could it be that old-fashioned je ne sais quoi?
Or, more likely, does a brand’s price and historical prestige position certain automakers at a higher point in the hierarchy?
We took the sales figures of 16 high-end brands (Tesla does not report monthly/quarterly model-specific Canadian sales, but estimates say the brand sold about 12,000 vehicles in the first half of 2022) from the January-June 2022 period at two answer questions. Which premium car brands are Canada’s top sellers right now? And which premium car brands are Canada’s best-selling luxury models? From Audi to Alfa Romeo, Lexus to Lincoln and everywhere in between, we made a few discoveries.
Driving By Numbers: Canada’s best-selling car brands in the first half of 2022
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First, the volume of premium auto brands will, quite predictably, decline in 2022. (There is, of course, a global supply chain crisis that continues to dominate the headlines.) -cent year-over-year slide down 8 percent. That means the luxury car market is actually gaining market share, albeit only slightly, from 13 percent in 2021 to 13.6% by mid-2022. In pre-pandemic 2019, the same group generated 12 percent of all car sales.
Second, German control of the Canadian premium market remains entrenched. There are true luxury-focused newcomers, including Genesis in particular, but the broad appeal of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Porsche is not easy to overcome. That quartet’s market share is 47 percent.
However, Porsche is not one of Canada’s top five premium brands. At least not yet. So which automakers round out the top five, and the top brands produce all the top models?
5. Cadillac: 7,238, down 14 percent
Cadillac has built a solid 1,447 unit lead over the sixth-ranked Acura brand in the first six months of 2022, thanks to a number of key factors. First, Acura’s fueling — sales fell 29 percent in the first half of the year. Second, Cadillac’s flagship Escalade is a hot ticket — the $90K+ SUV produced 1,782 sales between January and June, up 5 percent from 2021.
4. Lexus: 12,115, 2 percent less
While the second quarter (7 percent down) didn’t follow the trajectory of the first quarter (6 percent up), Lexus is still gaining market share in a sector of the Canadian auto market that has fallen 8 percent so far this year. . And unsurprisingly, it’s the brand’s heavy hitters that make all the difference. While the ES, IS, LC, LS, RC, GX, LX and UX combined for a 22 percent drop to just 3,379 units, the NX and RX, which produce more than 70 percent of the brand’s volume, are up 9 percent. cent.
3. BMW: 14,099, down 7 percent
BMW is the first member of a German triad to control the standings, trailing the leader by a narrow margin of 5 percent. If BMW could turn the tide on its collapsing car lineup, BMW would likely be on track to finish the year in the No. 1 position. Unfortunately, the brand’s car volume is down 31 percent to just 3,844 units. BMW’s seven commercial vehicles — plus the new iX — are up 8 percent, producing nearly three-quarters of BMW’s Canadian sales by 2022.
2. Mercedes-Benz: 14,835, down 8 percent
It’s tight in much of the auto industry as inventory suffers and lead times are getting longer, but Mercedes-Benz is sticking to a better-than-average sales decline thanks to the improved sales of its two best sellers. Meanwhile, former core models like the C-Class and E-Class are increasingly minimal factors – they now represent just 9 percent of the brand’s Canadian volume. (Mercedes-Benz’s first-half sales total reached 18,025 units, down 3 percent, when Sprinter and Metris vans are included in the mix.)
1. Audi: 14,853, down 13 percent
Could 2022 end as Audi’s first year as Canada’s best-selling premium car brand? If the remaining six months are the same as Audi’s first quarter — when sales rose 5 percent — that’s certainly a possibility. Unfortunately, Audi’s second-quarter sales fell 24 percent thanks to losses of more than 30 percent on the A4, A5, A6, A7, Q3 and Q8. At this stage of 2021, Audi had opened a margin of 835 units over Mercedes-Benz, but ended the year behind nearly 2,500 sales.
5. Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class: 3,806, an increase of 3 percent
The first consumer-oriented SUV from Mercedes-Benz was the M-Class, commonly referred to as the ML. (Yes, there was an SUV before that, but the original Geländewagen was far from widely available.) Now, a quarter of a century after its tenure and operating as the GLE, it’s one of a wide variety of Mercedes-Benz utility vehicles, including the better ones. – sales of GLC. In fact, the GLE itself includes two rather different body styles. Combined, the GLE and GLC account for nearly 6 of every 10 Benz sales in Canada.
4. Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class: 4,665, an increase of 23 percent
If you’re looking for clear evidence of the Canadian market’s shift from new cars to SUVs, the Mercedes-Benz GLC is happy to be a standout. The GLK predecessor to the GLC was considered a successful vehicle during its first half decade on the market, with average annual sales of about 5,500 and never going below 5,000 or more than 6,000. Now, in a market with severe supply constraints, the second generation of Mercedes-Benz’s compact crossover generates 4,665 sales in just the first half of the year.
3. BMW X3: 4,910, up 57 percent
In a market that has fallen by 100,000 sales in the first half of the year compared to 2021, BMW’s two best-selling vehicles are soaring. The X5 is up 15 percent to 2,922 units, and this smaller X3 has reported gains of 1,788 units between January and June. Numbers 3 and 5 have been important to BMW for decades, only instead of being preceded by an X they were previously essential components to the brand when paired with a range of passenger cars. The 3-Series and 5-Series combined accounted for just 1,958 sales in the first half, a 29 percent drop from 2021.
2. Lexus RX: 4,996, up 13 percent
A powerhouse in North America’s premium lineup since the late 1990s, the Lexus RX was the premium brand’s best-selling commercial vehicle in 2021 and is sure to be all about reclaiming the crown in 2022 direction. Second quarter volume was up 3 percent after a year-over-year improvement of 27 percent to start the year.
1. Audi Q5: 5,107, down 10 percent
Excluding an estimated over 7,000 sales of the Tesla Model 3 and the aforementioned complexity of sales reporting — by which we mean Tesla does not report — the 13 best-selling premium-brand traditional vehicles in Canada are all commercial vehicles. The Audi Q5 is the leader of that pack with more than 1,100 sales in the first half of Audi’s total passenger car range. Audi’s next best-selling Q3 missed the top 5 with 637 sales.