With 1.09m units sold, January 2016 marked the 29th consecutive month of year-on-year registration growth in Europe, according to data released by JATO.  

The month saw a 6.1% increase in volume compared with January 2015, and the region’s highest January sales in four years. The results were boosted by strong growth in two of the big-5 European markets – Italy and Spain – as well as Ireland, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Finland. However, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Croatia and Latvia all experienced a downturn in sales.

Volkswagen remained the best-selling brand for the month with 128,500 units sold, though it experienced a loss of market share, falling from 12.9% in January 2015 to 11.8% last month. Volkswagen registered the only negative change among the top 10 best-selling brands. Its sister brand Audi had a different experience, increasing its volume by 14.2%, the highest rise in the top 10. This boosted its market share by 0.41 percentage points. Other big market share winners were Mazda (+0.42 percentage points), Opel/Vauxhall (+0.36), Fiat (+0.34) and Honda (+0.33).

Volkswagen Golf top model; Opel/Vauxhall Astra soars

The Volkswagen Golf was the top model in Europe last month, thanks in particular to its strong position in Germany and Italy, though it also performed well in other large and mid-size markets. However, it also saw its market share drop in 20 of 29 European markets. The Golf’s market share stood at 3.4% in January 2016, compared to almost 4.0% in the same month of 2015, its second lowest monthly share since January 2014. Sales volumes fell by 9.5% from January 2015 to 36,900 units. However, Opel/Vauxhall experienced a 50% gain in year-on-year growth with its new-generation Astra, a direct rival to the Golf, with sales totalling 16,900 units. The Astra posted the highest percentage increase in the top 10 as volumes soared in Germany (+98%), Spain (+60%) and France (+114%).

JATO also said that new small and compact SUVs posted impressive market share gains in January. The Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, for example, posted an 8.1% increase in volume.

“After two months of double-digit growth, the European new car market slowed down in January. Volkswagen remained top but lost ground to its main rivals, who benefitted from the success of their SUVs and new models. January’s figures suggest that the current momentum behind SUVs will continue, further establishing the segment’s importance,” commented Felipe Munoz, Global Automotive Analyst at JATO Dynamics.

See also:

Car sales in Western Europe up 5.9% in January

VW takes a January sales hit in Europe (analysis of big 5 markets)