Automakers continue to launch new SUVs in Europe - Toyota is currently rolling out its first RAV4 PHEVs

Automakers continue to launch new SUVs in Europe - Toyota is currently rolling out its first RAV4 PHEVs

SUVs started 2021 in Europe "with a success story", according to JATO Dynamics, which said data for 27 markets showed the sector accounted for 44% of all new passenger car registrations in January, the highest share ever recorded for SUVs.

Global analyst Felipe Munoz noted: "The demand for SUVs shows no signs of stagnation, and Europe is showing similar patterns of growing popularity to those seen in the US and China. Considering their higher prices and emissions levels, the results are particularly noteworthy."

SUV volume fell 18% year on year to 368,100 units.

Small SUVs accounted for 36% of total registrations, with volume also falling by 18%. While compact SUVs made up the majority of demand with 177,500 units, they also were down by 18%. Midsize and large/luxury SUVs accounted for 15% of total volume for SUVs with 56,800 units – down by 20%.

Volkswagen, Peugeot and BMW were the top-selling SUV brands in January, but Ford, in fourth position took first place for market share growth.

JATO said: "2020 was a trying year for the European automotive industry, and so far, 2021 has not proved to be much easier. According to our data for the 27 markets across the region, registrations of new cars totalled 839,525 units in January 2021, down by 26% compared to the same period in 2020 – the lowest result for January since 1982.

Munoz added: "Despite efforts made by governments and OEMs to boost the registration of pure electric cars, it has not been enough to offset the impact of the global pandemic and local lockdowns."

Car dealerships across the continent also continued to feel the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In key markets such as Germany and Spain, volume dropped by 32% and 52% respectively. January was also unlikely to meet December's success due to the tax breaks enjoyed by customers at the end of the year.

Munoz: "Changes to tax calculations from 1 January accelerated the demand in December with consumers registering new vehicles ahead of these changes."

Despite the overall negative trend, there were a few exceptions. In Sweden, volume increased by 23% compared to January 2020. This was the result of changes to Sweden's bonus-malus taxation policy (introduced on 1 January 2020) which caused an increase in vehicle registrations in December 2019, as customers took advantage of the favourable taxation that would no longer be in place for high emissions vehicles.

In Norway, registrations increased 8% as consumers were once again able to visit showrooms, and demand for EVs continued, fuelled by heavy incentives.

Volvo gains most market share

By manufacturer, Volvo gained the largest market share, following increases in demand for its SUVs and midsize cars. The XC40 was Europe's top selling premium vehicle last month with volume soaring by 58% to 10,590 units.

Conversely, Volkswagen Group fell 0.9 points due to its exposure to its domestic market which favoured the Golf, Europe's top selling car in 2020.

January also saw notable shifts across model rankings. The Golf dropped three positions and started the year in fourth, behind the Toyota Yaris, Peugeot 208 and Dacia Sandero. The Peugeot 2008 topped the SUV rankings, up by a significant 87% in contrast to the 7% and 2% drops seen by its competitors, Volkswagen T-Roc and Renault Captur respectively.

Other models that posted significant increases included the Ford Puma (+72%), Ford Kuga (+258%), BMW X3 and Kia Niro (+12% each), Mercedes GLA (+18%), Suzuki Ignis (+25%), Smart Fortwo (+208%) and Porsche Macan (+23%).

Among recently launched cars, the most registered were the Mercedes GLB (3,802 units), Volkswagen ID.3 (2,909), Cupra Formentor (2,826), Citroen C4 (2,491), BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe (2,409), Polestar 2 (1,290), Porsche Taycan (1,017), Toyota Proace City Verso (915), Audi E-Tron Sportback (908), and Land Rover Defender (871).

See also:

GlobalData analysis: European lockdowns drag down global sales in January