Independent data from JATO Dynamics shows that the total new car market in Western Europe remained static in September 2005, with registrations up 0.11% to 1,381,259 units compared to the same month in 2004.

Year-to-date (YTD) registrations were 0.08% higher than in the first nine months of last year, at 1,379,788 units.

Iceland, Denmark and Ireland again recorded double-digit percentage YTD growth compared to the same period in 2004. Sweden, Finland, France and Spain also posted significant increases in registrations in September.

Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands and Austria saw registrations rise in September but sales fell in the UK, Greece and Norway, both in September and YTD.

September is the peak month for sales in the UK, because of the biannual plate change; sales in Britain were the highest in Europe despite the overall fall in the UK market.

Volkswagen continued its strong performance, taking the top spot in September with sales up 8.7% to 139,992 units, giving VW 10.1% of the total market. Next was Opel/Vauxhall, up 0.3% to 128,887 units, then Renault, with 121,498 units. On YTD sales, BMW is the fastest-growing brand in the Top 10, with growth of 15.4% over YTD 2004.

Kia remains the fastest-growing volume brand with sales up 41.6% in September and up 58.7% YTD. Skoda (up 15.1%) and Audi (up 12.5%) are also performing strongly on YTD registrations.

September saw a change at the top of the model ranking. Strong sales of Opel/Vauxhall's Astra in the UK pushed it to the number one position, with 43,026 units registered; up 20.9% compared to September 2004. Volkswagen's Golf (40,698 units) was second followed by the Peugeot 206, which moved up one place with 39,062 units.

Segment Trends
Sales growth slowed or reversed in most segments in September, with Mini-MPVs (up 12.6%) and full-size MPVs (up 4.7%) showing improvements over September 2004. Only three segments posted YTD sales increases: SUVs (up 11.4%), Lower Medium cars (up 6.9%) and Mini-MPVs (up 5.2%).

After rising 14.1% in August, the Mini segment sales fell 7.1% in September despite recent new model introductions. Fiat's Panda led from the Ford Ka and Kia Picanto (up 21.2%). YTD, the Panda (up 7.6%) again led from the Picanto (up 126%) and Renault Twingo. The recently launched Peugeot 107, Toyota Aygo and Citroën C1 between them took 14% of the segment in September.

Small segment sales also fell in September and YTD. The YTD total of 3,354,475 was 4% down on last year. Peugeot's 206 led in September from the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio (up 1% as the new model achieved significant sales in France). Other new models performing well in this segment include the Peugeot 1007, VW Fox, Suzuki Swift and Lancia Musa.

The Lower Medium segment lost some buoyancy in September, with sales rising only 0.9% although the YTD total is 6.9% ahead of 2004. The Opel/Vauxhall Astra (up 20.9% in September) led sales of volume models, from VW Golf and Ford Focus. The premium end of the segment continued to increase its share of the market, but the growth is beginning to slow. Audi's A3 (up 4.6% in September and up 25.3% YTD) led from BMW 1-Series (up 80.6% in September) and Alfa-Romeo 147.

Upper Medium segment sales declined by 3% in September and 3.5% YTD. However, strong performances by the new VW Passat (up 15%) and Peugeot 407 (up 33%) helped lift September's volume model sales by 2.6%. This performance was offset by a 10.96% decline in premium model sales in September. BMW's 3-Series led from the face-lifted Audi A4 (up 10.2%) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Registrations of Executive cars continued to decline, dropping 7.4% compared to September 2004 and 4.4% YTD. BMW's 5-Series led the segment in September from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 (up 0.5%). The 5-Series also led YTD, ahead of the A6 (up 28.7%) and E-Class.

The Luxury segment registered the largest decline in YTD sales, which were down 16.8%. September registrations fell 10.8%. Mercedes-Benz S-Class (up 24.5%, new model) led in September ahead of BMW 7-Series and Audi A8. On YTD sales, the 7-Series led from the A8 and S-Class.

New models continue to contribute to growth in the Mini-MPV segment, which was up 5.2% YTD. The Renault Scénic/Grand Scénic led in September from the new Opel/Vauxhall Zafira (up 9.1%) and new VW Golf Plus. The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class took a 5.7% share of the segment in September, while the Honda FR-V achieved a 1.1% share.

September's 4.7% growth in the full-size MPV segment was almost entirely due to the new Mazda 5. The Renault Espace/Grand Espace maintained its lead of the segment followed by the Ford Galaxy (up 7.1%), VW Sharan (up 46.6% due to significant sales in Germany and the UK) and the Mazda 5.

SUV sales, which grew 16.1% in August, were 12.9% higher in September with YTD growth standing at 11.4%. Toyota's RAV4 led in September from the Nissan X-Trail (up 19.8%), BMW X5 (up 13.4%) and Hyundai Tucson (up 40%). YTD, the RAV4 again led from the X3 (up 71.8%) and Tucson.

The Sports segment fell 15.6% in September, leaving YTD sales down 4.4%. Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class led from the new Opel/Vauxhall Tigra and Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class in September.