Economic uncertainty across Europe is continuing to influence the car market as new vehicle sales dropped 5.3% year on year in July to 1,259,130 units, London-based analysts Jato Dynamics said on Monday.

European sales of new vehicles were down 2.5% year-to-date compared to the same period in 2007, with 9,475,111 units sold so far in 2008.

Jato spokesman Nasir Shah said: "Most countries are feeling the pinch as a combination of high fuel prices and economic uncertainty across Europe filter down to the consumer.

"Yet while markets, including the UK and Spain, show negative growth, central and eastern Europe have reported healthy sales virtually across the board, and we expect Europe's heavyweights to continue to perform well in these markets.

"There is cause for optimism in western Europe as well as new models defy overall trends by posting healthy sales."

Brands

Volkswagen continued its dominance in the Europe, retaining its position as the region's top selling brand in both July and YTD. Ford, Opel / Vauxhall, Renault and Peugeot completed the top five.

Sixth-placed Fiat continued to buck the overall market trend, and that in its home market of Italy, by recording sales up by 0.4% in July and 2.6% YTD.

BMW (up 3.8% in July and 5.9% YTD), Audi (up 3.6% in July) and Skoda (up 0.8% in both July and YTD) also performed well given the market conditions.

Nissan has stormed ahead in 2008, boosting sales 23.5% or 43,462 units to 228,643, and the brand's July performance (30,092 units, up 3,274 units or 12.2%) was also impressive.

Mazda has also done well, with July sales up by 3,473 units (20.4%) to 20,514 and YTD sales of 160,687 units up by 13,585 units (9.2%).

Other significant increases were achieved by Smart (up 33.1% YTD), Dacia (up 45.5% in July, up 38.0% Yd), Daihatsu (up 10.6% YTD), Subaru (up 37.7% in July, up 10.6% YTD) and Jaguar (up 36.5% in July, up 16.5% YTD).

Model by model

VW Golf sales (in its swansong year; redesigned model sales start in October) were up 4.6% compared to the same period in 2007, thanks in part to a robust performance in Germany where registrations last month grew 34.5% year on year.

July was the fourth consecutive month in which the Golf has led the European market, and the fifth month this year. It has held the YTD top spot since January.

The Peugeot 207, Ford Focus, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and the Opel/Vauxhall Astra followed, while the Audi A4 broke into the European top 10 as it full range of new models, including the Avant, became available. The A4 sold 27,767 units in July 2008, an improvement of 42.5% over the same period in 2007. Audi has a revised A6 with more efficient, lower CO2 engines in the pipeline, too.

Year-to-date, the Golf (up 15.8%) again led from the 207 (up 1.3%), Focus, Corsa, Clio, Astra, Fiesta, Punto, Polo and BMW 3-series.

National Trends

The overall European new car market's fall in July was caused by significant drops in Spain, Italy and Britain, with Ireland and Sweden also contributing to the YTD fall.

Denmark saw tax changes introduced at the beginning of July. The market had been depressed in previous months, as customers waited for the change to take effect, and the pent-up demand led to July registrations that were almost 2.5 times those achieved in July 2007 while YTD registrations were 28.5% higher than a year ago.

Ireland also introduced new taxes in July, leading to an increase in sales over the same month last year, but YTD registrations remained lower than a year earlier.

Recent Jato data suggested tax incentives can have a significant impact in persuading car purchasers to choose vehicles with lower CO2 emissions. The eventual effect of these new changes has yet to be determined.

The French market fell slightly in July, as the markets started to settle after tax changes in January. YYD registrations remained higher than last year while the German market continued to grow slowly.

Many of the major markets in central and eastern Europe continued to record significant growth, including the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Top Ten Brands

Make Jul_08 Jul_07 % Change July Jul YtD_08 Jul YtD_07 % Change YtD
VOLKSWAGEN 136,638 142,337 -4.0% 973,174 981,148 -0.8%
FORD 102,923 107,652 -4.4% 794,618 807,043 -1.5%
OPEL/VAUXHALL 93,406 111,523 -16.2% 763,463 831,365 -8.2%
RENAULT 89,333 97,566 -8.4% 727,054 740,372 -1.8%
PEUGEOT 87,036 93,160 -6.6% 670,153 697,183 -3.9%
FIAT 81,035 80,701 +0.4% 630,603 614,388 +2.6%
CITROEN 78,428 84,068 -6.7% 564,263 595,613 -5.3%
TOYOTA 69,004 75,972 -9.2% 495,657 564,636 -12.2%
BMW 60,820 58,574 +3.8% 435,675 411,410 +5.9%
MERCEDES 59,409 61,567 -3.5% 436,066 438,088 -0.5%

Top Ten Models

Make & Model Jul_08 Jul_07 % Change July Jul YtD_08 Jul YtD_07 % Change YtD
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 39,558 37,802 +4.6% 293,848 253,772 +15.8%
PEUGEOT 207 36,213 37,917 -4.5% 280,277 276,713 +1.3%
FORD FOCUS 33,112 33,846 -2.2% 245,383 263,583 -6.9%
OPEL/VAUXHALL CORSA 28,951 32,945 -12.1% 240,467 252,959 -4.9%
OPEL/VAUXHALL ASTRA 28,199 34,821 -19.0% 221,881 250,971 -11.6%
AUDI A4/S4/RS4 27,767 19,480 +42.5% 148,867 145,397 +2.4%
RENAULT CLIO 25,958 30,562 -15.1% 226,738 243,475 -6.9%
FORD FIESTA 25,792 27,120 -4.9% 207,048 225,820 -8.3%
VOLKSWAGEN POLO 25,337 26,934 -5.9% 177,161 178,493 -0.7%
FIAT PUNTO 22,324 30,266 -26.2% 196,714 253,975 -22.5%

Volumes by Market

Country Jul_08 Jul_07 % Change July Jul YtD_08 Jul YtD_07 % Change YtD
Austria 22,695 23,616 -3.9% 191,363 188,197 +1.7%
Belgium 39,242 39,597 -0.9% 369,939 348,106 +6.3%
Cyprus 2,214 1,985 +11.5% 14,015 14,087 -0.5%
Czech Republic 16,292 14,406 +13.1% 109,858 98,869 +11.1%
Denmark 33,179 13,434 +147.0% 118,533 92,250 +28.5%
Estonia 2,337 2,649 -11.8% 17,543 19,444 -9.8%
Finland 11,177 10,446 +7.0% 99,261 87,862 +13.0%
France 182,954 183,340 -0.2% 1,311,850 1,263,948 +3.8%
Germany 262,534 258,639 +1.5% 1,895,700 1,835,638 +3.3%
Great Britain 153,420 176,277 -13.0% 1,400,899 1,443,576 -3.0%
Greece 27,263 27,867 -2.2% 185,864 187,339 -0.8%
Hungary 13,944 15,349 -9.2% 95,947 99,964 -4.0%
Iceland 578 1,486 -61.1% 7,719 9,973 -22.6%
Ireland 16,418 13,097 +25.4% 140,565 166,139 -15.4%
Italy 191,504 215,968 -11.3% 1,457,682 1,647,522 -11.5%
Latvia 1,850 2,856 -35.2% 13,697 20,176 -32.1%
Lithuania 2,070 1,912 +8.3% 15,486 11,755 +31.7%
Luxembourg 4,811 4,231 +13.7% 34,713 33,483 +3.7%
Norway 9,605 12,062 -20.4% 71,170 77,748 -8.5%
Poland 25,402 24,173 +5.1% 194,059 173,767 +11.7%
Portugal 21,137 22,554 -6.3% 135,552 130,091 +4.2%
Slovakia 8,710 6,785 +28.4% 52,731 43,016 +22.6%
Slovenia 6,380 5,548 +15.0% 45,450 40,685 +11.7%
Spain 121,521 166,999 -27.2% 823,809 1,010,494 -18.5%
Sweden 16,902 20,588 -17.9% 156,413 172,637 -9.4%
Switzerland 25,154 24,769 +1.6% 176,067 168,817 +4.3%
The Netherlands 39,837 38,899 +2.4% 339,226 332,975 +1.9%
Grand Total
1,259,130
1,329,532
-5.3%
9,475,111
9,718,558
-2.5%

Tables: Jato Dynamics