Data from independent compiler Jato Dynamics shows the total new car market in Western Europe declined in September 2004, with registrations down 2.19% to 1,357,145 units compared to the same month in 2003. However at 11,399,158 units, YTD registrations are still 1.28% higher than those achieved in the same period last year.

The VW Golf again took the top sales spot in September with 50,829 units, ahead of the Peugeot 206 (45,272 units), Opel/Vauxhall Astra (38,124), Peugeot 307 and Opel/Vauxhall Corsa. Opel/Vauxhall achieved a total of 135,350 units in September, ahead of all other makes. Renault and Volkswagen completed the top three.

YTD, the VW Golf (415,020 units) leads the market overall from the Peugeot 206 (398,585 units), followed by the Peugeot 307, Renault Mégane and Ford Focus. Renault is the biggest-selling make of the year so far, ahead of Volkswagen and Opel/Vauxhall.

The sports segment sustained its recent growth in September, posting sales up 29.25% for the month and up 27.14% for the YTD compared with 2003. The Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class leads from the SLK (up 181% in September and up 138% YTD), the new Mini convertible and Mazda RX-8.

The SUV segment, like mini-MPVs [minivans], showed some slowing of growth in September, with monthly volumes up by a mere 2.75% on the same month in 2003, compared to a YTD increase over 2003 of 12.58%. SUVs have suffered political attacks in many European markets over the past few months, and these may be starting to affect the market. The segment’s performance in the next few months will be of interest to manufacturers and politicians alike.

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The mini-MPV segment’s recent rapid growth slowed slightly in September with the total volume for the month up by only 6.36% compared to a year earlier. This has had little effect on the YTD volume which remains up, by 27.19%, on the same period last year. The Renault Scénic, up 29.2% YTD, leads the segment.

Mini segment sales remained quite static in September, up 0.07% over the same  month last year. YTD the picture is little different, with the segment up 1.37%. The Fiat Panda, up 41.3% in September and up 92.7% YTD, leads the the Ford Ka and Smart Fortwo.

The supermini category saw total registrations fall in September, down 3.41% on the same month last year, and down 0.07% YTD.  The Peugeot 206 has maintained its lead of the segment, ahead of the Ford Fiesta (up 10.5% compared with Sept 2003 following a successful month of sales in the UK) and Opel/Vauxhall Corsa.

Lower-medium sales were down 0.78% on September 2003 and YTD registrations down 1.44%. The Volkswagen Golf, up 17.4% in September and up 6.07% YTD, leads the segment from the Peugeot 307 (up 1.57% YTD) and the Ford Focus.

The premium lower-medium segment saw a significant increase in sales in September, with total registrations for the month up 9.56%, meaning that YTD it is up 1.84% on 2003. The Audi A3, up 1.1% in September and up 18.6% YTD, maintained its lead of the segment, despite a new competitor in the shape of the BMW 1-series. Thanks to a strong debut in Germany and the UK, the BMW took second place in the segment for the month, ahead of the Alfa-Romeo 147 and Volkswagen Bora [Jetta].

The upper-medium segment continues to slide slowly, with the total volume down 3.55% in September and down 5.99% YTD compared with 2003. The Volkswagen Passat still leads from the Ford Mondeo and Opel/Vauxhall Vectra, while the Peugeot 407 has attained fourth place in the segment only a few months after its launch due to strong demand in France and the UK.

Premium upper-medium sales are falling more rapidly than the upper-medium segment, perhaps a victim of the success of the top premium lower medium segment products. In September the segment was down 10.32% on the same month a year earlier, while the YTD total has fallen 8.77%. The BMW 3-series continues to lead the segment from the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4.

The executive segment suffered a decline in September, with the volume for the month down 7.84%, while the YTD volume is down 1.4%. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has maintained its lead from the BMW 5 series (up 41.3% YTD) and the Audi A6 (up 29.5% in September and up 7.6% YTD following the introduction of the new model).

The high-luxury segment continues the decline that it has suffered since the beginning of the year, with volumes down 5.06% in September and down 13.10% for the YTD.  The Mercedes-Benz S-Class continues to lead from the Audi A8 (up 9.08% in September and up 0.1% YTD), BMW 7-series, Jaguar XJ and Bentley Continental GT.

The full-size MPV segment also maintains its downward trend with September registrations falling 26.24% and YTD registrations down 8.27%.  The Renault Espace (up 9.58% YTD) continues to lead the segment from the Ford Galaxy and Volkswagen Sharan.