After A, B and C-segments, it’s time to make a close analysis of medium sedans, or what is known as D-segment. Real sedans begin from this important segment, because the ones of C-segment are mostly 5 doors hatchbacks modifications. The cars belonging to D-segment are larger, wider and have better performance, and therefore other car makers begin to appear: the 3 famous Germans, some Swedish, Japanese and British. The largest particularity among them are its body type: 4 door sedan and Station Wagon. In Europe car makers add the 5 door hatcback version. To easily identify them it is important to consider these characteristics: average length between 4.6 and 4.8 m for business or family use.
It could be said D-segment is the one belonging to Germans. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have gained during the last 20 years an enormous good reputation making their mid size sedans and wagons. Thanks to their great work of quality and marketing, they are more or less the world’s most popular brands. Of course they are not alone, as is a segment with some importance in Europe and big numbers in North America and China. During the 80’s Japanese created their own premium brand to compete with Germans: Toyota created Lexus, Nissan proposed Infiniti and Honda did the same with its premium Acura. British from Jaguar have always had a place though nowadays they don’t offer any model in this segment. Volvo plays another important role always offering the latest inventions in security field. Koreans, strong in North America, have experienced a big evolution also. And finally come French and Italians. The first have done a local job without any important result in terms of sales. Italians, who had an important role with old Alfas, Lancias and Fiats, are now out of the ring.
The position of Fiat-Chrysler group can be better analyzed separating both groups. Chrysler has an interesting position within the segment in the US and Canada. As its rivals from GM and Ford, D-segment represents America’s second largest segment after the whole SUV one. Medium sedans, as they are called in the US, had a market share of 18% during 2011, when 2.3 million units were sold, world’s largest market for this kind of cars. F-C Group is represented by Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 300, both of them with several years of commercial life. In fact the old age of this two models begins to be evident: the Avenger was number 11 in its segment, while the 300 occupied place number 14. The competition is really tough with Japanese leading the race: Toyota with its popular Camry, Honda with its Accord and then the Nissan Altima, among others. Although things are going better this year, especially with the Chrysler 300, F-C Group must hurry to replace both models to gain more market share in the segment: in 2011 in USA it was 4.3% and in Canada was 5.3%, the world’s best market share of the segment of the whole group. In Italy the situation is worse. Although the Lancia Thema is the twin brother of Chrysler 300, in Europe Lancia’s model is positionate in E-segment because of its size (5 m) and better accesories. In this context Fiat-Chrysler’s model was, until the last months, the beauty Alfa Romeo 159, the car called as a mistake by Sergio Marchionne.
Alfa 159 was launched in 2005 as the sucessor of the 156. The shapes of the car are still amazing with really different Italian touchs. But external presence was not enough to conquer clients of this difficult segment. The car was very heavy, had a lot of quality problems and an interior not as good as Germans. Fiat interrupted its production in late last year when it sold around 10-11.000 units all over the world. It is a pity things went like this because the group is missing a good oportunity in a segment that sold 1.5 million cars in 2011, or 11% of the whole European market: 14.4% in Germany, 11.5% in the UK and 7.5% in France. In Northern Europe is very popular: 25% in Finland, 23.3% in Sweden and 21% in Norway. Fiat’s position is very complicated while Germans continue to consolidate their big presence, offering more and more body type versions of their already popular sedans. That’s why Fiat people must accelerate the launch of the supposedly called Alfa Romeo Giulia to be ready in 2014 to satisfy both, American and European markets. Meanwhile Lancia/Chrysler should think about a global mid size sedan to fit needs of Europeans and Americans. And it would not be a bad idea if Maserati offered also another exlusive sedan to compete with better conditions with Germans. A regular and classic sedan from Lancia, with a mid-price sporty coupe-sedan from Alfa, and a more expensive and powered Maserati could be an interesting trio that could reach other markets such as China (where the segment had an important second place with market share of 17%, dominated by Germans and Americans) or th3 Middle East (12% of sales). Here is the list of D-segment cars around the world: