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UK: Europe new car sales "robust"

By just-auto.com editorial team | 18 March 2008

European new car sales increased 8.4% or 90,005 units year on year in February 2008 to a total volume of 1,163,035 units. Year-to-date, sales rose 3.6% (84,324 units) to 2,451,321 units, according to analysis by UK-based Jato Dynamics.

"Considering the stress placed upon the global economy in recent months, the car market so far this year appears to be very robust," said Jato spokesman Nasir Shah.

"The February market was particularly strong thanks to the extra trading day afforded by the leap year and also because the French market recovered from the short-lived decline brought about by taxation changes early in the year."

Volkswagen continued its domination of the European car market and was once again the top-selling car brand in February, with sales 14.5% higher than a year earlier and ahead of Peugeot (up 14.4%), Renault (up 9.9%), Opel/Vauxhall (up 2.0%) and Ford (up 2.9%).

So far in 2008 the top five performers were Volkswagen, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall, Renault and Peugeot.

Fiat continued to improve its performance and increase its market share, with sales 11.5% higher. Mercedes and BMW both posted volume increases of 21% over the same period last year thanks to the recovering German market.

Other significant market improvements were posted by Nissan (up 55.8% in February and 52.0% YTD), largely driven by continued high demand for the Qashqai crossover, while Mini volumes grew by 48.9% due to the introduction of the new Clubman and the low CO2 ratings achieved by the revised Efficient Dynamics-equipped models.

Top Models

The Peugeot 207 was Europe's top-selling new car in February (up 23.0% at 38,493 units,) ahead of the Volkswagen Golf (36,032 units, up 43.7%), Renault Clio (29,007 units, up 4.9%), Opel/Vauxhall Corsa (28,304 units), Opel/Vauxhall Astra (27,287 units, up 1.6%), Fiat Punto (26,688 units), Ford Focus (26,494 units), Ford Fiesta (24,084 units, up 2.9%), Volkswagen Polo (21,819 units, up 13.1%) and Volkswagen Passat (19,977 units).

The Golf remained the best selling model year-to-date, ahead of the Peugeot 207, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Focus, Renault Clio, Fiat Punto, Opel/Vauxhall Astra, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Fiat Panda.

National Trends

Following the well-documented depression of the German car market in early 2007 as a result of changes in taxation, the market has recovered remarkably well with February sales up 24.8%. This has naturally benefited the German brands which enjoy strong support in their domestic market.

The French market saw the introduction of significant CO2-based rebates and taxes at the start of the year, which depressed the market in January. However, the February market appeared to have adjusted to the new regime with total sales up 11.1%.

Lithuania continued to record massive growth in a small market, but its Baltic neighbours Latvia and Estonia no longer recorded the growth seen up to the middle of last year. Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Netherlands all recorded significant increases in new car sales.

Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland and Italy recorded declining sales in February.