Central and Eastern European (CEE – excluding Russia) car markets remain in turmoil, following the severe decline of new car demand last year, with Q1 2010 sales dropping a further 12.4%, in figures released by JATO Dynamics.
JATO says that the only market to really change its fortunes in the past quarter was the Czech Republic, whose 26.6% sales rise can be ‘almost entirely attributed to the standout performance of local hero, the Skoda Octavia – the most popular model both nationally and across the region’.
Continuing the trend from 2009, all but one of the major volume brands saw a downturn in sales through the period, as the turmoil created by the wider economic crisis, rising taxes and a lack of Western-style incentive schemes kept buyers from showrooms.
Less than 200,000 cars were sold across the CEE region in the first quarter, 2010 – a 12.4% drop overall (Q1 2009: 225,902).
Most markets suffered double digit sales falls, with Hungary faring worst of all (-54.8%), followed by Romania (-43.8%). Taken together, these two markets lost over 25,000 sales in the quarter, vs. 2009 – far more than those gained by the relatively positive news from Serbia.
“The picture of the CEE region as the growth centre for European new car sales is now a distant memory, as the region remains gripped by a severe downturn,” said David Di Girolamo, Head of JATO Consult.
Skoda’s Octavia remains the region’s best-selling car, with the gap to the second-placed Fabia surging to 6,766 (Q1 2009: 509). The Octavia delivered the best performance of all the top ten models during the first quarter, rising 38%, largely due to its popularity with company fleets now recovering economic confidence.
The biggest loss in the period amongst volume sellers was experienced by the Kia C’eed – fifth overall in 2009 – its drop to 10th place resulted in Kia losing its place in the top ten brands.