Toyota Motor said its sales in Europe fell 26% year on year in the first half of this year to 452,350 vehicles.

The Toyota brand had sales of 439,184 vehicles, down 25% vs. 2008, and 13,166 Lexus models were sold, down 47% against last year. A market share of 4.9% was down 0.4% in a passenger car market that was down 18% across the region.

Compared to the first half of last year, Toyota Motor Europe manufactured 231,800 vehicles, 264,029 engines and 265,621 transmissions at its plants in the UK, France, Turkey, Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Russia.

Tadashi Arashima, president and CEO of TME, said: “The automotive industry has faced extraordinary business conditions this year. On the plus side, our sales in western Europe – particularly for Yaris and Aygo – have been bolstered by government stimulus packages and our ability to adjust production volumes swiftly. Consumers are also showing interest in newly-launched models such as the Toyota iQ, Urban Cruiser, Verso and Avensis.

“However, the competitive environment is tougher than ever for other models, and we cannot see external pressures easing off in the foreseeable future.”

Small cars led Toyota sales with Yaris its best seller with 109,403 vehicles, down 19% versus the same period in 2008. Aygo sold 55,792 units, no change on last year, and the Avensis performed in line with current D-segment conditions selling 50,289 units (-14%).

Lexus sales were led by the RX – in run-out for the first half – with sales of 5,922, down 37% in a premium passenger car market that declined by 21%. Lexus hybrids continued their rise, accounting for 42% of total sales, up 7%.

Germany was TME’s largest national market by volume in the first half with 73,447 sales, up 37% versus H1 2008. It was followed by the UK with 55,590; down 23% and Italy, 49,726; down 21%. Russia, TME’s largest volume market in H1 2008, plunged 56% to 42,000 vehicles.