The central and eastern European new car market has grown by 14.9% (325,062 units) in the third quarter of 2007 compared to the same period last year. Year to date the market has increased 14.0% to 981,052 units.

"Few global car markets are expanding at the rate currently experienced in Central and Eastern Europe," said Nasir Shah, global business development director at Jato Dynamics, which compiled the data.

"Clearly, the region has been a sleeping giant that has now awakened. It will be fascinating to see if this growth can continue in the coming months."

Skoda continued to be the region's favoured car brand, ahead of General Motors' Opel (up 31.0%), Volkswagen (up 22.3%), Dacia and Ford (up 34.7%) in the third quarter. YTD, the top five brands were Skoda (up 0.6%), Dacia, Opel (up 19.0%), Volkswagen (up 18.7%) and Renault (up 3.8%).

Given the strong market performance both in Q3 and YTD, most of the volume brands have recorded similar performance rises in their sales figures. Brands which demand particular note are Kia (up 79.3% Q3, 81.4% YTD), Suzuki (up 51.1% Q3, 24.9% YTD), Honda (up 45.4% Q3, 45.3% YTD), Toyota (up 21.0% Q3, 24.5% YTD), Hyundai (up 30.5% Q3, 22.5% YTD), BMW (up 49.5% Q3, 38.9% YTD) and Mercedes-Benz (up 36.4% Q3, 32.4% YTD).

During the period, the Dacia Logan was the top-selling new car in the region with 24,171 units sold, ahead of the Skoda Fabia (17,641 units), Skoda Octavia (16,015 units, up 2.1%), Opel Astra (8,492 units, up 28.7%) and Ford Focus (8,116 units, up 30.9%). The YTD running order was the same.

New models that performed well in the market during the third quarter of the year included the Toyota Auris, Kia Cee'd, Peugeot 207, Fiat Bravo, Nissan Qashqai, Fiat Linea and Hyundai I30. Models showing significantly increased sales volume following a full-model update included the Opel Corsa, Honda CR-V and Mitsubishi Outlander.

During the third quarter of the year Romania re-established itself as the largest market in the region, with third quarter sales of 82,585 units (up 20.5% on Q3 2006) and YTD sales of 228,877 units (up 23.1%). Poland was the second-largest market in the region with sales of 67,811 units (up 22.1%) in the third quarter and 217,412 units (up 24.0%) YTD.

Hungary was third largest with 44,154 units sold in the third quarter (up 3.8%) and 128,958 units YTD. However, a slow performance in the first half of the year meant the YTD total was down 5.9% on 2006.

The Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have demonstrated remarkable growth in their new car markets since joining the EU, although there are now signs that the growth is beginning to slow in both Estonia (up 14.0% in Q3) and Latvia (up 24.0% in Q3). Lithuania is still recording outstanding growth, with third quarter sales up 54.6% and YTD sales up 48.8%.

Significantly, all other national markets in the region recorded growth for both the third quarter period and YTD compared to 2006.

Western Europe sluggish