• New year brings positive overall European new car sales, up 14.9% vs. January 2009
  • Post-scrappage markets appear less stable
  • Volkswagen Golf is Europe’s best-selling car; Ford Fiesta close behind

Scrappage deals continued to tempt western European car buyers to showrooms in January – continuing the positive trend from December and pushing the market 14.9% higher than a troubled January 2009, UK analysts Jato Dynamics said.

Most buyers were again tempted by the Volkswagen Golf, closely followed by the Ford Fiesta. These two models increased sales by 19.8% and 21.4% respectively, versus January 2009.

“In a reverse of 2009, these figures show a good start to what could be an uncertain year in sales terms,” said Jato's David Di Girolamo. “Brand and model sales performances look good compared to the difficulties of last January, but scrappage schemes are certain to end this year, despite recent extensions that will surely affect the current growth trend.”

The UK government recently announced a one-month extension to its national scheme – until March 2010 – and schemes continue in Spain, Italy and France.

By contrast, Germany, the one major western European new car market to have closed its scrappage incentive scheme, was down 4.3% last month.

Central and eastern Europe continued to struggle with markets across this region down significantly versus 2009 and showing no sign of recovery. The regional picture was even bleaker when Russia market was taken into account - it almost halved last year.

“The new car sales outlook remains very uncertain,” said Di Girolamo.  “Some 141,000 more cars were sold last month than in January 2009, but the market remains unstable and we can take little comfort from these positive figures.”

Models

The Golf continued to draw in more buyers than any other model in Europe, beating Ford’s Fiesta by 2,653 units.

These two remained well clear of other top sellers, but the Renault Clio could claim to be most improved, with a 90.3% sales increase, while VW's new Polo lifted its sales by 71.5%.

Top 10 Models

Make & Model Jan 10 Jan 09 % Change Jan Jan YtD 10 Jan YtD 09 % Change YtD
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 41,255 34,424 +19.8% 41,255 34,424 +19.8%
FORD FIESTA 38,602 31,790 +21.4% 38,602 31,790 +21.4%
RENAULT CLIO 32,401 17,027 +90.3% 32,401 17,027 +90.3%
VOLKSWAGEN POLO 31,725 18,494 +71.5% 31,725 18,494 +71.5%
FIAT PUNTO 27,447 17,119 +60.3% 27,447 17,119 +60.3%
PEUGEOT 207 25,568 25,352 +0.9% 25,568 25,352 +0.9%
OPEL/VAUXHALL CORSA 22,993 19,425 +18.4% 22,993 19,425 +18.4%
FORD FOCUS 22,380 22,308 +0.3% 22,380 22,308 +0.3%
FIAT PANDA 21,953 17,532 +25.2% 21,953 17,532 +25.2%
RENAULT MEGANE 21,610 13,021 +66.0% 21,610 13,021 +66.0%

Brands

Volkswagen, Renault, Ford, Peugeot and Fiat, all benefited in the first month of the year, boosted by scrappage schemes favouring small, low-CO2 cars.

Renault passed Ford into second place, behind Volkswagen, driven by the success of the Clio, which accounted for a third of its sales, while VW remained Europe’s best selling brand, supported by refreshed Golf and Polo models.

The popularity of Fiat’s low-CO2 European model range helped it into the top five brands, up 21.5% for the period.

Top 10 Brands

Make

Jan 10

Jan 09

% Change Jan

Jan YtD 10

Jan YtD 09

% Change YtD

VOLKSWAGEN

121,336

105,370

+15.2%

121,336

105,370

+15.2%

RENAULT

99,029

61,519

+61.0%

99,029

61,519

+61.0%

FORD

96,474

89,850

+7.4%

96,474

89,850

+7.4%

PEUGEOT

82,017

67,268

+21.9%

82,017

67,268

+21.9%

FIAT

80,257

66,070

+21.5%

80,257

66,070

+21.5%

CITROEN

69,996

59,949

+16.8%

69,996

59,949

+16.8%

OPEL/VAUXHALL

68,731

65,711

+4.6%

68,731

65,711

+4.6%

TOYOTA

58,449

49,957

+17.0%

58,449

49,957

+17.0%

AUDI

45,684

46,270

-1.3%

45,684

46,270

-1.3%

BMW

38,139

37,724

+1.1%

38,139

37,724

+1.1%

National trends

National governments have been influencing their market sales with scrappage schemes for almost a year, some of which have been extended for a second time.

In February 2010, the UK government announced that an extra month has been added to its scrappage scheme, taking it to the end of March 2010.  Schemes continue in France, Spain and Italy, although these will be phased out gradually through 2010.

The effect is clear when comparing markets, with Italy, Great Britain, Spain and France, all recording double-digit sales growth and Italy selling more cars than any other European market (207,427 units).

“For all that scrappage has helped generate these positive numbers; it will only continue to support markets for a limited period in 2010.  Unless we see clear signs of recovery, there could be some difficult months ahead,” concluded Di Girolamo.

Sales by Market

Country

Jan 10

Jan 09

% Change Jan

Jan YtD 10

Jan YtD 09

% Change YtD

Austria

20,882

18,992

+10.0%

20,882

18,992

+10.0%

Belgium

49,376

47,690

+3.5%

49,376

47,690

+3.5%

Cyprus*

977

1,487

-34.3%

977

1,487

-34.3%

Czech Republic

10,813

8,845

+22.2%

10,813

8,845

+22.2%

Denmark

9,396

7,801

+20.4%

9,396

7,801

+20.4%

Estonia*

695

1,017

-31.7%

695

1,017

-31.7%

Finland

12,339

11,543

+6.9%

12,339

11,543

+6.9%

France

171,478

149,372

+14.8%

171,478

149,372

+14.8%

Germany

181,189

189,385

-4.3%

181,189

189,385

-4.3%

Great Britain

145,479

112,087

+29.8%

145,479

112,087

+29.8%

Greece

26,585

20,225

+31.4%

26,585

20,225

+31.4%

Hungary

2,970

5,974

-50.3%

2,970

5,974

-50.3%

Iceland

88

126

-30.2%

88

126

-30.2%

Ireland

16,597

15,799

+5.1%

16,597

15,799

+5.1%

Italy

207,427

159,381

+30.1%

207,427

159,381

+30.1%

Latvia*

382

496

-23.0%

382

496

-23.0%

Lithuania*

613

742

-17.4%

613

742

-17.4%

Luxembourg

3,536

3,157

+12.0%

3,536

3,157

+12.0%

Norway

9,697

5,353

+81.2%

9,697

5,353

+81.2%

Poland

25,359

26,660

-4.9%

25,359

26,660

-4.9%

Portugal*

11,724

8,994

+30.4%

11,724

8,994

+30.4%

Slovakia

3,600

3,599

+0.0%

3,600

3,599

+0.0%

Slovenia

5,050

4,572

+10.5%

5,050

4,572

+10.5%

Spain

74,108

59,374

+24.8%

74,108

59,374

+24.8%

Sweden

15,523

11,299

+37.4%

15,523

11,299

+37.4%

Switzerland*

20,004

17,704

+13.0%

20,004

17,704

+13.0%

The Netherlands

62,907

56,066

+12.2%

62,907

56,066

+12.2%

Grand Total

1,088,794

947,740

+14.9%

1,088,794

947,740

+14.9%

*Denotes estimated data for January 2010.