Last month, the European new car market saw an increase in total volume of 73%  compared with COVID-19-hit May 2020.

According to data from JATO Dynamics for 26 European markets, volume totaled 1,073,987 units, taking the year-to-date total to 5,150,831 units. Despite this increase, volume was 25% lower than May 2019 as the market continued to feel the effects of the pandemic.

Felipe Munoz, global analyst, said: “The data is encouraging but the market is recovering slower than many had hoped. Economic uncertainty and a lack of consumer confidence are limiting growth at a time when the industry is also shifting away from traditional powertrains and adapting to strict CO2 emissions regulations.”

The performance of Volkswagen Group in securing the second highest monthly market share since 2001 is impressive when considering the challenges currently faced by the industry. The German manufacturer’s share totaled 28.14% during May, second only to April 2020 when it secured 29.23% as rival’s sales were harder hit by the onset of the pandemic in Europe.

The positive results in May were due to strong performance from brands such as Audi, Skoda, Seat, and Cupra. Total sales were boosted by increasing consumer demand for EVs and SUVs – with Volkswagen Group now leading in Europe across both segments.

VW’s performance last month demonstrates the value of identifying key drivers of growth and adapting sales strategy at the right moment, in order to meet emerging consumer demand. Although Europe is a mature market, EVs and SUVs are key segments that still show considerable growth potential. “As with the diesel scandal in 2015, Volkswagen Group is again able to overcome the crisis and emerge stronger”, Munoz said.

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By GlobalData

EVs posted a record share of registrations in May – with 16% – while SUVs made up almost 45% of the total volume. Munoz added: “It has become clear that having the right offering across both of these segments will be crucial to the success of OEMs over the coming years.”

Registrations of pure electric cars and plug-in hybrids totaled 171,415 units, up by 279% compared with May 2020. BEV volume totaled 83,700 (+261%), and PHEVs totaled 87,700 (+299%). The market share for SUVs jumped from 40.2% in May 2020 to 44.6% last month. In May 2018, SUVs accounted for 34% of the market.

The Volkswagen Golf led the model ranking, while the Volkswagen T-Roc was the most registered SUV. The Tesla Model 3 topped the BEV ranking, and the Ford Kuga was the most popular PHEV during the month. Other strong performers include the Fiat 500, which came third in the general rankings, the Peugeot 2008 which saw an increase in sales of 2% compared with May 2019, and the Ford Puma which took 12th position.

The following models posted double-digit growth compared with May 2019: Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen T-Cross, Volvo XC40, Mini Hatch, Hyundai Kona, Tesla Model 3, Kia Niro, Fiat Ducato, Renault Zoe, BMW 4-Series, Skoda Scala, BMW 2-Series, Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Arteon, Nissan Leaf, Citroen Jumper, Audi e-tron, MG ZS, Kia Sorento, Kia Proceed, Volkswagen California, Mercedes Sprinter, Hyundai Santa Fe, BMW X6 and Jeep Wrangler, among others.