The European car market inched up 0.3% (just 33,553 units) to 12,035,103 units for the first nine months of the year, after falling 1.5% to 1,404,043 in September, according to Jato Dynamics analysis.

"The post-holiday period is traditionally a month of strong car sales in Europe," said Jato's Nasir Shah. "Many buyers return from holiday and finally make their purchase decision. The UK market peaks due to a registration-plate change and this leads to popular UK brands and models moving up the list of top-sellers list in September."

Brands

Volkswagen, although decreased slightly in volumes, was once again Europe's top-selling car brand in September, beating a strong monthly performance from General Motors Europe's Opel/Vauxhall (up 4.6% in September, up 0.8% YTD). Ford was third place (up 1.0% YTD), while Peugeot and Renault completed the top five. The top five brands YTD were Volkswagen, Opel/Vauxhall, Ford, Renault and Peugeot.

Strong performances last month included Fiat posting an increase of 4.0% (7.2% YTD) due largely to the recently introduced Bravo, 500 and Linea models and Mercedes-Benz increased sales by 6.0% in September following the successful introduction of the new C-Class, bringing YTD sales to 0.9% higher than 2006.

Toyota also performed well, posting a 3.0% increase YTD thanks to the new Auris and the continued growth of Prius hybrid sales.

Citroën also increased its market by 2.4% in September (2.0% YTD), thanks largely to strong sales of the C4 Picasso, Grand C4 Picasso and C-Crosser and Audi made significant progress with a sales increase of 3.8% YTD.

In volume terms, the fastest-growing brands in Europe for the first nine months of 2007 were Fiat (sales increased by nearly 50,000 units), Honda (up by almost 31,000 units) and Dacia (up by just over 22,000 units).

In percentage terms, the fastest growing volume brands over the same period were Dodge (up a staggering 153% from a low base due to a much-expanded range including Caliber, Avenger and Nitro), Dacia (up 69.2%) and Daihatsu (up 37.8% due to the introduction of the new Materia, Trevis and Terios and the continued success of the revised Sirion).

Models

The Opel/Vauxhall Astra was Europe's top-selling new car in September 2007 with 41,226 units sold, ahead of the Ford Fiesta (38,014 units), Peugeot 207 (37,557 units, up 8.1%), Volkswagen Golf (37,519 units), Ford Focus (36,870 units), Opel/Vauxhall Corsa (36,346 units, up 61.2%, new model), Renault Clio (31,452 units), BMW 3-Series (31,297 units), Fiat Punto (27,811 units) and Volkswagen Polo (24,415 units).

Year-to-date, the top sellers were the Peugeot 207 (up 169.2%), VW Golf (up 0.5%), Ford Focus, Opel/Vauxhall Astra, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa (up 50.6%), Fiat Punto, Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta (up 1.0%), BMW 3-Series (up 4.7%) and the Volkswagen Passat.

New Models

New models that performed well in the European market during the nine months to September included the Nissan Qashqai, Fiat Bravo, Kia Ceed, Skoda Roomster, Ford S-Max, Volvo C30, Chevrolet Captiva, Opel/Vauxhall Antara, Fiat 500, Peugeot 308, Hyundai i30 and Audi A5/S5.

Models showing significantly increased sales volume following a full-model update include the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Honda CR-V, Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Renault Twingo, Mini, Mitsubishi Outlander, Smart Fortwo, BMW X5, Ford Galaxy and Toyota Yaris. The Dacia Logan, Seat Altea and BMW 1-series benefited from the addition of new versions that have increased their showroom appeal.

National Trends

Of the 'Big Five' European markets, only Britain and France recorded improvements both in September and YTD, whilst Italy was up 5.7% for the year so far.

Conversely, the German market struggled to re-establish the strength it enjoyed in 2006. YTD, the market was 8.0% down on last year, while the September 2007 figures were down 11.0% on last year, largely due to the high 2006 sales posted ahead of the changes to the tax regime in January 2007.

Elsewhere, many of the central and eastern European markets continue to provide the biggest percentage increases, while Cyprus is still demonstrating significant growth.

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