China’s midsize car segment, usually the most profitable, has seen rapid growth for over seven years but has experienced a rare sales decline since the start of 2011.

According to China Car Times, data showed the average sales growth of the segment’s eight leading models in the first quarter of this year was only 2.3% as sales of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Volkswagen Magotan (Passat) all fell year on year and the segment underperformed the entire market in the first half of this year.

The report said the major reason for the sluggish sales of midsize cars this year is the strong competition from the lower-end A-class cars and the higher-end luxury cars, which compressed growth in the segment.