European New Car Market Continues Slump
JATO Dynamics, a provider of automotive data and intelligence, reported the European new car market fell by 7.8% (1,227,941 units) during 2008, recording a steady decline since May. Though the market maintained a strong growth at the start of 2008, in May the global economic crisis began to take its toll. The picture is yet more bleak when comparing figures over the second half (July to December) of 2008 to the same period in 2007, as the market recorded a 14.5% drop.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in December alone, the European new car market fell by 17.8 per cent (196,337 units), when compared to the same month in 2007. However, whilst this signals the market performing poorly, it is less of a reduction in sales than the previous month. Total new car sales throughout Europe during 2008 stand at 14,459,714.
“Whilst on paper, 7.8 per cent may not appear to be a significant drop for the new car market during 2008, it’s important to consider it remained fairly buoyant up until May, so the figure we see is largely down to the last six months of the year. Not only that, but that percentage represents in excess of a million new cars – the output of more than one manufacturing plant,” says David Di Girolamo, business manager for JATO Consult.
Volkswagen bucked the downward trend and recorded strong sales in 2008, remaining Europe’s top-selling car brand. In December, the marque led Opel/Vauxhall, Ford, Peugeot and Renault to keep its place at the top of the table.
Few brands recorded increased sales in December. However, following the introduction of the new Delta, Lancia posted a 7.2 per cent upturn than in the same month in 2007, whilst Dacia’s sales grew by 16 per cent following the introduction of the Sandero. Subaru also saw its sales climb by 2.3 per cent, thanks to the addition of a diesel engine option.
Looking at 2008 as a whole, other manufacturers worthy of note are Nissan (up 8.2 per cent), Mazda (up 0.9 per cent), Dacia (up 39.8 per cent), smart (up 9.6 per cent), Subaru (up 9.3 per cent) and Jaguar (up 11.5 per cent).
Overall, 2008’s top 10 performing brands were Volkswagen, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall, Renault, Peugeot, Fiat, Citroen, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
The Volkswagen Golf maintained its lead of the European new car market in December, with sales up by 5.3 per cent YtD, when compared to 2007.
During that month, helped by the introduction of the new sixth generation model, the Golf led the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 207, Opel/Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Polo, Volkswagen Passat, BMW 3-Series and Renault Clio.
The Volkswagen Golf also proved to be the market’s strongest performer throughout 2008, whilst a variety of other models vied for position in the top 10.
An overview of the year sees the BMW 3-Series and Volkswagen Passat fall out of the high performers table, whilst the Fiat Punto and Audi A4/S4/RS4 steal eighth and tenth place, respectively. The latter posted an increase in sales for 2008 of 15.9 per cent, which is impressive considering the climate.
Sales of the Golf stand at 458,283 units for 2008, followed by the Peugeot 207 (406,163 units), Ford Focus (364,638 units), Opel/Vauxhall Corsa (360,247 units), Renault Clio (335,548 units), Ford Fiesta (327,314 units), Opel/Vauxhall Astra (320,856 units), Fiat Punto (278,934 units), Volkswagen Polo (275,921 units) and Audi A4/S4/RS4 (255,474 units).
Other models performing well in the European new car market include the Dacia Sandero, Hyundai i10, Ford Kuga, Audi Q5, Alfa Romeo Mito, Volvo XC60, Suzuki Splash, Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, Volkswagen Scirocco, Renault Koleos, Lancia Delta, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class and BMW X6.
Increased sales during December have also been enjoyed by the Renault Twingo, Mazda 2, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Opel/Vauxhall Agila and Citroën C5, largely due to full model replacements or the addition of new versions.
As expected given the global economic conditions, the majority of markets across Europe recorded significantly lower new car sales in December 2008 than in December 2007.
Finland, however, recorded dramatically higher sales than a year earlier – posting an increase of 137.5 per cent (or 2,898 units). At first glance, this may appear to be a happy anomaly for the country, but is largely due to a severely depressed market in 2007, in anticipation of imminent tax changes. This depression also explains the YtD rise of 11.7 per cent.
Other markets recording YtD sales increases include Belgium, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland, following strong sales early in the year. (Tire Review/Akron)