Independent data from JATO Dynamics shows that the Western European market for new cars fell by 2.84% (to 1,132,484 units) in October 2005, compared with the same month in 2004.

Year-to-date (YTD), the market remained comparable with 2004; up 0.06% to 12,608,797 units.

Sweden (up 9.9%) and Denmark (up 5%) showed strong growth in October. But sales in the UK, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands were more than 10% lower than in October 2004.

Total sales in the 'Big Five' markets of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK were 3% down (to 895,695 units) in October but almost level with 2004 on YTD performance, with total registrations in the five markets up 0.1% to 9,928,338 units for the period January to October.

Iceland (up 40%) and Denmark (up 23.7%) continued to show remarkable YTD growth, while Ireland also saw a significant increase (up 11.7%).

Switzerland (down 17.1%) remained the lowest-performing market YTD.

Brands

Volkswagen headed the brand table with YTD sales up 1.9% on 2004. BMW (up 13.7%) and Toyota (up 3.9%) also registered notable YTD growth. Toyota and Citroën increased sales in October. The leading brands in October were VW (120,963 units), Renault (108,284 units) and Opel/Vauxhall (94,646 units).

Outside the top 10, Audi (up 12.2%), Skoda (up 14.8%) and Honda (up 10.1%) all showed significant YTD sales growth in the region.

Models

VW's Golf moved back to the top of the model ranking in October, ahead of the Opel/Vauxhall Astra (up 0.6% in October and 32% YTD), Ford Focus (up 24% in October), Peugeot 307 and Renault Clio. YTD, the Golf also ranked first, ahead of the Astra and the Focus, with Peugeot's 206 and 307 completing the top five.

Segment trends

Luxury (up 22%) and premium Lower Medium sales (up 15.6%) led the way in October, while SUVs and Mini-MPVs maintained their steady growth in sales and market share. Apart from City Cars, every other segment suffered compared with October 2004, with Sports models (down 14.4%) turning in a particularly listless performance and Premium Upper Medium sales falling by almost 10%.

Despite some difficult market conditions, total registrations in the Utility/City Car segment were 5.6% higher in October although the segment remained down 2.8% YTD. The Fiat Panda (up 3.7%) led the segment in October from the Smart Fortwo and Renault Twingo.

The new Renault Clio (up 10.4%) led the Small segment in October, from the Peugeot 206 and Ford Fiesta. Registrations in this segment fell 4.6% in October, continuing the trend that has left YTD sales down by 3.8% despite good performances by recent entrants including the VW Fox, Peugeot 1007, Suzuki Swift and Lancia Musa.

The surge in registrations of Lower Medium segment models earlier in the year did not continue in October, as volumes fell by 7%. The YTD total remained 2.4% up on 2004. VW's Golf led the segment in October from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus. Citroën's C4 performed notably well, compared with its outgoing predecessor the Xsara last year, claiming sixth place in the segment with sales up 201% in October and up 130% YTD.

Premium Lower Medium models showed slower growth now that the leading products are well-established in the market. Nevertheless, total registrations were up 15.6% in October and up 39% for the YTD, with Audi's A3 (up 12.3% in October) leading from the BMW 1-Series (up 30.8% in October) and Alfa-Romeo 147 (up 17.2% in October).

Strong sales of Upper Medium segment models kept the segment 2% ahead of 2004 on YTD registrations, although October registrations were down by 4.3%. VW's Passat (up 17.6%) led in October from the Peugeot 407 and Ford Mondeo.

The Premium Upper Medium segment continued to lose market share, with total registrations down 9.6% in October and down 12.1% YTD. BMW's new 3-Series led the segment in October from the Audi A4 (up 15.4%) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Executive segment registrations also fell. They were down 4.7% in October and down 4.2% YTD. However, Audi's A6 saw sales rise 7.7% in October, and the A6 led the segment from the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Thanks mainly to the introduction of the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, registrations in the Luxury segment rose by a remarkable 22.5% October. The S-Class led the segment in October (up 112%), ahead of the BMW 7-Series (up 2.8%) and the Audi A8. YTD, Luxury registrations remain down on 2004 by 13.1%.

Renault's Scénic/Grand Scénic led the resilient Mini-MPV segment in October from the new Opel/Vauxhall Zafira (up 12.1%) and Volkswagen Touran. Total registrations of Mini-MPVs rose 5% in October and rose 5.1% YTD.

Full-size MPV sales remained depressed. The segment fell 12.7% in October, with YTD volumes down 11.1%. Renault's Espace/Grand Espace maintained its lead in October, followed by the Volkswagen Sharan and Mazda5.

Increases of 6.5% in October and 11.2% YTD helped the buoyant SUV segment increase its share of the Western Europe car market to 6.5%. Toyota's RAV4 led in October from the Hyundai Tucson (up 12.8%) and BMW X3. As well as the Tucson, new products selling well in this segment included the Kia Sportage, Nissan Pathfinder, Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Nissan Murano.

Lethargic sales of Sports models saw the segment suffer a 14.4% fall in October, leaving it down 5.1% for the YTD. The segment leader in October was the new Opel/Vauxhall Tigra, ahead of the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class and SLK-Class.