Volvo, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz are among brands pushing Europe's premium large SUV sector toward record sales this year.
Through September, the segment's volume rose 33 percent to just under 185,000 units, according to data from market researcher JATO Dynamics. The rate of growth was the second highest among Europe's SUV sectors behind the 37 percent rise for premium compact SUVs during the same period.
"It's really impressive for such a high-priced segment," JATO analyst Felipe Munoz told Automotive News Europe.
Annual sales will peak this year at 235,000, according LMC Automotive, which then foresees a two-year slump for the sector as the rate of new model launches slows. The segment's overall volume is expected to start rising again in 2019 and reach nearly a quarter of a million by 2020, LMC predicts.
The segment's strongest performer has been Volvo's new XC90, which ended the first nine months in second place just behind the BMW X5. JATO predicts that Volvo's triple-digit growth rate for its second-generation XC90 -- compared with BMW's 1 percent rise for the X5 -- will result in the Swedish SUV overtaking its German rival before the end of the year.
While BMW and Volvo fight for first place based on sales of an individual model, Audi's latest-generation Q7, launched in Europe in July, 2015, showed strong growth. Land Rover has a commanding lead based on brand sales. The British SUV specialist sold a combined 44,131 units in the segment through September, a rise of 1.2 percent over the same period last year, to maintain its lead. Land Rover has three models in the segment, but surprisingly it was the soon-to-be-replaced Discovery that posted the biggest percentage growth for the brand.