Blog: Glenn BrooksCar sales surging in Europe's east

Glenn Brooks | 20 February 2012

Forget for a moment the endless bad news out of the French, British, Italian and Spanish new car markets. Aside from Germany, there is another important European country where a sales surge is underway.

Registrations in Poland were up 27 percent YoY in January to 24,198 units. Agreed, this is not a large market but give it a few years and it will be. So which brands are putting down firm roots with local buyers? Last month, Škoda's Octavia and Fabia took the first two places (the Czech brand was Poland's number one in 2011), followed by the Astra. The Corsa was in fifth, so a good result for Opel which continues to be in the news for the wrong reasons. It's also worth mentioning the fourth placed model: not a Volkswagen, nor a Renault, nor a Peugeot, but the Yaris. Yes, it would seem that Toyota is on the comeback trail in the largest market of the EU's geographic east.

The other name to note is, unsurprisingly, Hyundai. The Korean brand was a mere 38 cars behind Volkswagen in January. It might well grab sixth spot from VW in February, and start to close on Fiat (fifth) and Ford (fourth, behind Opel). If you're wondering, the remainder of the top ten were Nissan (eighth) Chevrolet (ninth) and Renault (tenth).

Unlike Citroën and Peugeot, Fiat at least made the top then. But that's the end of the good news. Sales were down 10 percent year-on-year and that's doubly disappointing as the company has a major manufacturing presence in Poland - the Panda Classic and the 500, as well as the Lancia Ypsilon and the Ford Ka are all made at Fiat's Tychy plant.

Perhaps the new Panda, an import from Italy, can help Fiat find its way again in what will surely be a major European market within the medium term. I shall be driving it later this week so shall post my impressions shortly afterwards. But looking at the size of the cars that Polish buyers seem most interested in, Fiat's current model range isn't exactly ideal for maximum growth potential in this high-growth market.


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