Data released by JATO Dynamics shows that the market leading Volkswagen Golf, Nissan’s Qashqai and the new Toyota Yaris are the only models in the top ten sellers to have recorded improved sales in March.

JATO said that the Qashqai and new Yaris performed particularly well last month, with sales up 21.5% and 18.1% respectively. They are also the only models, along with the Ford Focus, to end the quarter positively. Ford’s Fiesta moved into second place despite reductions of 4.8% in March and 10.4% in the first quarter.

The market data from JATO confirms figures from LMC and ACEA issued earlier this month showing that despite some sales growth in the UK and Germany, the European new car market is down due to particularly poor sales in France and Italy in March. The poor market conditions in Italy were further exacerbated by a car transporter drivers strike which slowed deliveries of new vehicles to dealers last month.

JATO estimates that the European new car market declined by 7.1% in March and 7.5% in the first quarter.

JATO said that the majority of top ten brands experienced a decrease in sales with only German brands showing improvements on March and Q1.

Gareth Hession, Vice President, Research at JATO said: “Mainstream brands have been hit hardest by the continued economic uncertainty with French and Italian brands – Renault, Peugeot, Citroën and Fiat – particularly affected as their home markets saw a reduction in sales year–to-date with a combined loss of over 200,000 units.”

However, Hession points to some bright spots in the gloom. “It’s important to recognise the appeal of new products, premium brands and crossover vehicles even in a difficult European car market,” he says.

“The Mercedes C-Class, new BMW 1-Series, and Nissan Juke have also all recorded increased sales over the last quarter.”

Sales by Market

Country 3/12/2012 3/11/2012 % change Mar Q1 12 Q1 11 % Change Q1
Austria 37933 35869 5.8% 88764 87865 1%
Belgium 59915 63533 -5.7% 148363 169904 -12.7%
Croatia 3762 3844 -2.1% 10822 10501 3.1%
Cyprus* 1187 1238 -4.1% 3482 3696 -5.8%
Czech Republic 17064 17501 -2.5% 43529 42026 3.6%
Denmark 9442 16788 -43.8% 36488 40742 -10.4%
Estonia 1684 1486 13.3% 4658 3745 24.4%
Finland 22919 12565 82.4% 47762 35649 34%
France 197774 257533 -23.2% 507841 647454 -21.6%
Germany 339123 327921 3.4% 773636 763403 1.3%
Great Britain 372835 366101 1.8% 563556 558336 0.9%
Greece 4898 8517 -42.5% 17119 25244 -32.2%
Hungary 4805 4486 7.1% 14085 11499 22.5%
Iceland 433 208 108.2% 1076 535 101.1%
Ireland 13100 14390 -9% 45842 47959 -4.4%
Italy 138752 189260 -26.7% 408235 517391 -21.1%
Latvia 879 873 0.7% 2488 2370 5%
Lithuania 1001 1096 -8.7% 2872 2867 0.2%
Luxembourg 5319 5660 -6% 13511 13423 0.7%
Norway 13225 13014 1.6% 35057 33999 3.1%
Poland 29481 27040 9% 77576 67505 14.9%
Portugal 9643 18935 -49.1% 23532 45597 -48.4%
Romania 4902 3793 29.2% 13965 9677 44.3%
Serbia 2329 3168 -26.5% 5233 6622 -21%
Slovakia 6429 6489 -0.9% 16605 15723 5.6%
Slovenia 5186 5909 -12.2% 14325 16653 -14%
Spain 80862 88426 -8.6% 200507 208481 -3.8%
Sweden 28555 29527 -3.3% 67976 69764 -2.6%
Switzerland 31879 30284 5.3% 78195 73284 6.7%
The Netherlands 52539 56596 -7.2% 166857 180394 -7.5%
Grand Total 1497855 1612050 -7.1% 3433957 3712308 -7.5%

Top Ten Brands

Make Mar 12 Mar 11 % change Mar Q1 12 Q1 11 % change Q1
VOLKSWAGEN 184172 178415 +3.2% 432944 427891 +1.2%
FORD 132471 143869 -7.9% 285418 305902 -6.7%
OPEL/VAUXHALL 110668 125667 -11.9% 227445 271471 -16.2%
RENAULT 92803 115749 -19.8% 225759 299709 -24.7%
PEUGEOT 88520 109921 -19.5% 217609 266447 -18.3%
AUDI 83563 78146 +6.9% 180111 172630 +4.3%
CITROEN 75383 95026 -20.7% 189886 225683 -15.9%
BMW 73542 70156 +4.8% 157307 157875 -0.4%
TOYOTA 67930 69286 -2% 149583 163345 -8.4%
MERCEDES 67637 62543 +8.1% 152299 140433 +8.4%

Top Ten Models

Make & Model Mar 12 Mar 11 % change Mar Q1 12 Q1 11 % change Q1
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 52933 52584 +0.7% 122569 123590 -0.8%
FORD FIESTA 47888 50282 -4.8% 91229 101861 -10.4%
OPEL/VAUXHALL CORSA 38809 39749 -2.4% 73388 84356 -13%
VOLKSWAGEN POLO 36948 39225 -5.8% 87369 94053 -7.1%
FORD FOCUS 32829 34486 -4.8% 74878 71671 +4.5%
OPEL/VAUXHALL ASTRA 31091 37277 -16.6% 64062 79911 -19.8%
NISSAN QASHQAI 30237 24890 +21.5% 62791 57720 +8.8%
RENAULT CLIO 28686 35626 -19.5% 66165 89023 -25.7%
PEUGEOT 207 23582 31234 -24.5% 57775 73642 -21.5%
TOYOTA YARIS 22856 19351 +18.1% 48789 43217 +12.9%