European automakers are charging into compact car and crossover segments, eager to pick up buyers aged 30 to 45.
Mercedes-Benz and BMW have developed front-wheel-drive platforms that will be shared by several vehicles. Mercedes' new compact sedan, crossover and hatchback have 80 percent commonality, says Dieter Zetsche, CEO of parent Daimler AG.
BMW's new fwd platform also will be used by a new generation of Mini models starting in early 2014.
Jaguar is planning a compact sedan and crossover. Both are expected to be on sale in the United States within two years.
Volvo is the laggard. It has yet to launch any vehicles to replace the lineup developed under former owner Ford Motor Co. But it does have a new architecture that will be used for most compact vehicles as they are replaced. The first will be the XC90 crossover that is scheduled to go on sale in late 2014.
European luxury brands are not ignoring the upper end of the market. Mercedes will roll out a new S-class family, starting with the high-technology sedan in September. It will challenge Bentley and Rolls-Royce with a superluxury version priced at $200,000 to $250,000.
In response, BMW is considering an 8-series coupe that would be priced higher than today's 7-series sedan.
Our look at future product plans for Volks-wagen Group brands, including Audi, will appear in the Sept. 9 issue.