Also experiencing huge slides were the Mercedes GLB (-50 percent) and Range Rover Evoque (-46 percent).
The decline could be the start of something significant, Benjamin Kibies, senior automotive analyst at Dataforce, said.
“Considering that the midsize segment and higher [segments] are running better for both SUVs and passenger cars, this could be the first sign of premium manufacturers moving up the market,” he told Automotive News Europe.
Premium automakers such as Mercedes and Jaguar Land Rover been saying for the last couple of years they wanted to focus on higher margin models and move the focus away from the entry segments.
Mercedes, for example, said it wants to focus on “fewer and more upscale portfolio positions” in the entry compact segment, which includes the GLA and GLB. The automaker will reduce its offering to four models in the segment from seven. Its share of the segment will fall by 25 percent by 2026 compared with 2019, Mercedes said in May.
Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm told analysts he was “not completely happy with the margin” in the segment in 2019, the last normal year before COVID-19 upended the automotive market.
Like all others, the segment has been affected by the shortage of microchips.
Of the automakers competing in the segment, only Audi and Lexus are owned by bigger groups (Volkswagen Group and Toyota Motor, respectively).
In their cases, it makes more sense to prioritize vehicles in this segment to receive precious semiconductors over lower margin mainstream brands.
It’s likely not a coincidence that the Audi Q2, Q3 and Q3 Sportback, and the Lexus UX saw the smallest sales reductions in the segment during the first four months.
On the other hand, this is a comparatively low-margin segment for brands such as Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes and BMW, which have been open about saving chips for larger, more profitable models.
JLR, for example, would focus on building “the most valuable units” until chip supply increases, Adrian Mardell, JLR chief financial officer, said last year.