Detailed independent analysis by Jato Dynamics confirms that the western European market for new cars fell slightly in July with total sales for the month of 1,244,822 units – down 1.16% compared to July 2004. However, year-to-date (YTD) volume is essentially stable at 9,218,594 units – only 0.42% fewer than the same period last year.

July sales

Volumes in Denmark and Portugal rose nearly 20% in July, compared to the same month in 2004. Finland and Germany recorded rises in sales of more than 7%. Belgium, Sweden, Ireland and Hungary also saw new car volumes rising. Austria recorded an 8.5% drop in July sales, as did the UK (down 6.6%), Italy (down 5.7%), France (down 5.3%) and Greece (down 4.4%). Sales also declined in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Spain.

Year to date sales

Iceland and Denmark recorded the greatest growth in YTD sales, at 40% and 25% respectively. Ireland (12%) and Portugal (10%) also saw large rises, while France, Germany, Spain, Finland, Sweden and Luxembourg also enjoyed higher new car sales. Volumes in Switzerland were down 13% compared to YTD 2004, and Greece, Hungary, Great Britain and The Netherlands were also significantly lower. Belgium, Norway and Austria recorded smaller falls in new car registrations.

Brand Performance

Volkswagen moved into first place in the western European new car sales ranking for July, with a 1.1% increase in sales (to 125,558 units) compared to July 2004. Renault maintained its YTD sales lead (915,554 units January to July), ahead of Volkswagen, Opel/Vauxhall (up 0.7%), Ford and Peugeot.

Outside the top 10, KIA continues to be the fastest-growing volume brand, with July registrations up 48.8%, and YTD total up 63.8% (to 139,093 units). Other brands posting strong increases in July were Land Rover (22.6%), BMW (19.1%), Honda (10.8%) and Mercedes-Benz (10.7%).


Of the top 10 best-selling models, the redesigned Ford Focus showed the greatest increase in sales in July – up 11.2%. The Volkswagen Golf, with sales of 46,282 units, remained western Europe’s best-selling car in July, ahead of the Focus (39,112 units), General Motors Europe’s Opel/Vauxhall Astra (38,009 units), Peugeot 206 (33,429 units) and 307 (30,789 units). YTD, the Golf (310,232 units) again leads, from the Astra (298,893 units, up 43.7%) and the Focus (260,597 units, up 1.6%).


The surge in sales of lower medium cars (up 7.4% to 2,329,325 units YTD) saw this segment increase its share of the market by nearly 2%, to 25.4% of the total market. SUVs also continued to sell strongly (up 11% to 580,181 units YTD), taking just under 7% of the new car market in western Europe. In contrast, sales of small segment cars fell 5.2% to 2,681,887 units YTD. The luxury and MPV segments were down around 15% YTD.

In the mini segment, the Fiat Panda (up 12.6%) led in July, ahead of the Kia Picanto (up 67.6%) and Smart Fortwo. July saw the segment grow by 6.7% but YTD sales (479,050 units) still lag 4.7% behind last year. Small car registrations fell 4.1% in July. Peugeot’s 206 was the top seller in July, ahead of the Ford Fiesta and the just-facelifted Volkswagen Polo (up 1.7%).

YTD sales of premium-compact lower medium cars leaped by 92,367 units (45.8%), led by Audi‘s A3 from the BMW 1-series and Alfa Romeo 147. Toyota‘s Prius hybrid, in fourth place, recorded sales increases of 98.9% in July and 161% YTD. Steady growth characterised the volume end of the segment, with sales up 3.1% YTD. Volkswagen’s Golf led YTD registrations from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus.

Upper medium models continued to experience mixed fortunes. Sales of volume models rose 2.3% YTD while premium models saw sales dip by 11.5%. Peugeot’s 407 headed the volume-model registrations YTD and the newly redesigned Volkswagen Passat led July sales. Audi’s A4 led the premium-model table YTD and the new BMW 3-series led in July.

Registrations of executive segment cars rose 2.8% in July, but were down by 2.7% YTD. Top seller YTD was the BMW 5-series, followed by Mercedes-Benz E-class and Audi A6 (up 32.0%). Luxury car sales were down both in July (11.9%) and YTD (14.8%). The leader on January-July sales was BMW’s 7-series (up 22.9%), ahead of the Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-class.

The mini-MPV (small minivan) segment, which has been showing signs of weakness for a few months, fell 11.6% in July, but remained up 1.9% YTD. The Renault Scénic/Grand Scénic led YTD sales, from the Volkswagen Touran and Opel/Vauxhall Zafira. In the full size MPV (minivan) segment, the Renault Espace/Grand Espace maintained its lead in July from Volkswagen Sharan and Chrysler Voyager/Grand Voyager. MPV sales continued to decline overall – down by 15.4% in July and by 15.6% YTD.

The Toyota RAV4 retained its lead in the SUV segment, ahead of the BMW X3 and the new Hyundai Tucson. Also selling well in July were the Tucson’s sister vehicle, the Kia Sportage, Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport and Nissan’s Pathfinder and Murano.

After several months of good growth, sports segment sales fell significantly in July. Total sales were 10.9% down on the same month last year, leaving YTD sales down 0.75%. The Mercedes-Benz SLK was the best seller YTD, from Opel/Vauxhall Tigra and Mercedes-Benz CLK.

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