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ANALYSIS: Europe sales off 4% YTD

By just-auto.com editorial team | 20 October 2008

The European new car market fell 8.3% (116,627 units) last month to 1,284,757 units while the year-to-date total was 4% off to 11,515,898 units, according to UK-based analysts JATO Dynamics.

"The post-holiday period is traditionally a month of strong car sales in Europe," said JATO's Nasir Shah. "However, given the dramatic economic developments of the last few weeks, it's absolutely no surprise to see the market drop by a significant margin."

Brands

Volkswagen was Europe's top-selling car brand in September, ahead of Ford, Opel/Vauxhall, Renault and Peugeot, which also reflecte the top five market performers year-to-date.

While nine of the top 10 brands posted a drop in sales compared to the first nine months of 2007, sixth placed Fiat was the only top 10 brand to have posted sales growth during the same period, up 1.6%.

However, outside the top 10, some brands managed to increase market share so far during 2008. Strong sales earlier in the year kept 11th placed BMW up 1.2% year-to-date, while Nissan was up an impressive 16.8%.

Of the other high volume brands,  Skoda (up 0.7%) Mazda (up 7.1%), Mini (up 8.6%), Smart (23.1%) and Dacia (39.8%), all had good reason to be optimistic this far into 2008.

September saw only one top 10 brand post increased sales, however, with Audi up an impressive 17.2%, buoyed by the strong performance of the new A4.

"As a premium brand, this is an impressive performance in September given the extraordinary economic climate," JATO noted.

The Volkswagen Golf was again Europe's top-selling new car in September (up 5.1%), ahead of the Peugeot 207, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Focus, Opel/Vauxhall Astra, Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Audi A4 (up 73.4%, thanks to the redesign), VW Passat and Fiat Panda (up 12.0%).

Year-to-date, the remarkable Golf - in its swansong year ahead of the new one due out soon - again led (up 12.2%), ahead of the Peugeot 207, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Focus, Opel/Vauxhall Astra, Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Audi A4/S4/RS4, VW Passat and Fiat Panda.

National Trends

The UK new car market fell by almost 89,000 units in September compared to the same month in 2007, a drop of 21.2%, a factor that significantly affected the overall European market total for the month, JATO said.

"September is normally a successful month in the UK due to a registration plate change", noted Shah. "But the UK was not alone in suffering losses, with Spain down by 31.9% and Italy down 5.9%. Nobody could have predicted falls like these a year ago, but in the current climate they were not a total surprise."

Interestingly, Iceland, which, like other key European markets, has recently suffered significant losses in its banking sector, recorded the largest percentage fall in new car sales, falling an astonishing 47.6%.

Elsewhere, significant market falls were recorded in Latvia (down 43.7%) and Ireland (down 39.8%).

But it was not all doom and gloom in the markets. Luxembourg performed strongly compared to a very poor performance in September 2007, with a 133% rise in new car registrations. The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Cyprus also recorded significantly larger sales in September.

Year-to-date, the most significant falls were in Spain (down 258,303 units, or 21.4%) and Italy (down 224,823 units, or 11.6%), while the most significant percentage drops were in Latvia (down 34.3%) and Iceland (down 29.9%).

Slovakia and Lithuania recorded the greatest growth YtD at 21.1% and 20.0% respectively. In terms of unit growth, France led Germany and Belgium.

Top Ten Brands

Make

Sep_08

Sep_07

% Change Sep

Sep YtD_08

Sep YtD_07

% Change YtD

VOLKSWAGEN

133,801

135,000

-0.9%

1,197,177

1,221,320

-2.0%

FORD

114,747

127,935

-10.3%

968,622

1,002,372

-3.4%

OPEL/VAUXHALL

104,143

128,052

-18.7%

919,488

1,032,989

-11.0%

RENAULT

85,688

93,302

-8.2%

868,026

895,084

-3.0%

PEUGEOT

84,112

92,804

-9.4%

799,512

847,254

-5.6%

FIAT

77,833

78,289

-0.6%

752,737

741,119

+1.6%

TOYOTA

69,425

73,976

-6.2%

604,777

695,410

-13.0%

CITROEN

68,293

74,342

-8.1%

674,990

723,975

-6.8%

MERCEDES

65,220

69,232

-5.8%

541,787

558,542

-3.0%

AUDI

62,831

53,618

+17.2%

505,294

506,667

-0.3%

Top Ten Models

Make & Model

Sep_08

Sep_07

% Change Sep

Sep YtD_08

Sep YtD_07

% Change YtD

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF

40,249

38,297

+5.1%

360,743

321,474

+12.2%

PEUGEOT 207

33,853

37,479

-9.7%

332,458

336,958

-1.3%

OPEL/VAUXHALL CORSA

33,378

36,302

-8.1%

290,369

311,024

-6.6%

FORD FOCUS

32,963

37,160

-11.3%

295,418

320,464

-7.8%

OPEL/VAUXHALL ASTRA

31,586

41,379

-23.7%

266,496

315,356

-15.5%

FORD FIESTA

31,223

37,949

-17.7%

254,647

282,245

-9.8%

RENAULT CLIO

28,135

31,637

-11.1%

271,948

295,470

-8.0%

AUDI A4/S4/RS4

27,575

15,899

+73.4%

196,072

174,098

+12.6%

VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT

22,954

22,974

-0.1%

193,137

230,428

-16.2%

FIAT PANDA

21,955

19,603

+12.0%

173,285

198,983

-12.9%

National Trends

Country

Sep_08

Sep_07

% Change Sep

Sep YtD_08

Sep YtD_07

% Change YtD

Austria

22,510

22,016

+2.2%

232,158

231,543

+0.3%

Belgium

37,838

36,611

+3.4%

440,731

418,599

+5.3%

Cyprus

2,285

1,952

+17.1%

17,722

17,845

-0.7%

Czech Republic

15,304

11,910

+28.5%

137,966

123,788

+11.5%

Denmark

11,908

13,477

-11.6%

121,713

119,109

+2.2%

Estonia

1,681

2,211

-24.0%

20,820

24,221

-14.0%

Finland

9,843

9,826

+0.2%

118,550

108,711

+9.1%

France

160,565

148,164

+8.4%

1,575,765

1,523,361

+3.4%

Germany

261,284

265,473

-1.6%

2,371,373

2,340,492

+1.3%

Great Britain

330,295

419,290

-21.2%

1,794,419

1,940,515

-7.5%

Greece

18,814

19,367

-2.9%

225,929

228,224

-1.0%

Hungary

13,248

13,738

-3.6%

120,327

128,743

-6.5%

Iceland

584

1,115

-47.6%

8,732

12,448

-29.9%

Ireland

3,458

5,745

-39.8%

149,101

180,752

-17.5%

Italy

177,057

188,258

-5.9%

1,716,722

1,941,545

-11.6%

Latvia

1,294

2,298

-43.7%

16,546

25,173

-34.3%

Lithuania

1,525

1,659

-8.1%

18,417

15,343

+20.0%

Luxembourg

4,053

1,740

+133%

40,228

38,152

+5.4%

Norway

8,453

9,340

-9.5%

87,456

97,874

-10.6%

Poland

24,091

22,753

+5.9%

236,638

217,383

+8.9%

Portugal

14,726

12,994

+13.3%

163,032

154,871

+5.3%

Slovakia

6,370

5,207

+22.3%

65,571

54,132

+21.1%

Slovenia

5,321

4,859

+9.5%

55,255

50,189

+10.1%

Spain

65,706

96,475

-31.9%

948,029

1,206,332

-21.4%

Sweden

22,777

23,806

-4.3%

195,284

219,505

-11.0%

Switzerland

22,254

20,695

+7.5%

217,688

210,663

+3.3%

The Netherlands

41,513

40,405

+2.7%

419,726

414,195

+1.3%

Grand Total

1,284,757

1,401,384

-8.3%

11,515,898

12,043,708

-4.4%