Nissan Europe, which has just axed 1,200 jobs at its UK plant, said earlier that sales last month fell 25.6% year on year to 36,646 units though market share improved to 2.7% from 2.5%.

Sales of the compact crossover Qashqai remained strong despite steep declines in total industry volume across Europe with 10,519 units sold in December. Market share in Russia, Germany, Spain and Italy improved year on year in December.

For calendar year 2008, sales reached a record 601,647 units, up 5.5% on 2007 despite the deterioration of the economic climate.

"This was largely due to the popularity of the Qashqai which sold 183,294 units in 2008," the automaker said.

Russia remained Nissan Europe's strongest market lst year with sales of 154,340 units, up 26.5%.