Car sales in Europe increased 9% to 14,1 million units in 2015, which was better than expected, and means 1,2 million additional sales for a market still suffering from overcapacity. However, as both the US and China broke new sales records last year, Europe is still about 2 million sales off its peak of over 16 million sales in 2004 and 2005.
As I mentioned in the December 2015 European car sales analysis, the diesel scandal has had very limited effect on the sales of the Volkswagen Group, as it remains the #1 manufacturer by far and even adds the most volume of all at close to 200.000 additional sales, even though that means a slower than average relative growth of +6%. Renault-Nissan performs almost as good or even better, depending on how you look at it: its 11% growth is pretty impressive, but its 190.000 additional sales mean that the gap between the VW Group and the French-Japanese alliance is still growing.
General Motors showed the slowest growth of all major manufacturers at +2,1% and that’s not only due to the discontinuation of Chevrolet, as Opel/Vauxhall also grew slower than the overall market at +6,1%. With the help of small crossovers Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade, FCA managed to leapfrog Hyundai-Kia to reclaim 7th place in the manufacturers ranking. Meanwhile, luxury manufacturers have had a great year, with Daimler AG growing 17,1% to add over 120.000 sales and BMW growing 11,5% to add over 95.000 sales, and Jaguar–Land Rover (owned by Tata Motors of India) boosted sales 22,2% to pass Suzuki in the manufacturers ranking.
Honda was the only manufacturer to lose volume in 2015, and it was a modest 1.771 units or 1,3%. Nonetheless, this is a new record low for Honda as it has now declined 7 straight years from a high of 311.801 in 2007 to just 130.808 in 2015, which is less than the manufacturer sold just in the month of December in both the US (134.070 Honda & 16.823 Acura) and China (151.587). It also means Honda dropped behind its Japanese rival Mitsubishi Motors for the first time ever. It’s a promising sign that Honda returned to growth in the second half of 2015 thanks to the addition of the HR-V small crossover, but I’m afraid that will also remain a niche player in this hot but competitive segment.
2015 manufacturers ranking
|4||Ford Motor Corp.||1.039.155||959.197||8,3%||79.958|
|10||Toyota Motor Corp.||595.749||554.395||7,5%||41.354|
|13||Tata Motors (J-LR)||180.300||147.595||22,2%||32.705|
|17||Fuji H.I. (Subaru)||38.033||32.907||15,6%||5.126|
|19||Mahindra & Mahindra (SsangYong)||14.807||8.554||73,1%||6.253|
|23||DRB-Hicom (Proton / Lotus)||828||650||27,4%||178|
2015 brand sales
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Volkswagen is still the best selling brand in Europe, but it loses some of its impressive market share, from 12,4% to 12,1% as it grows slower than the market. In the battle for 2nd place, Ford grows to top 1 million sales again, which it last did in 2011. Coincidentally, the company also returns to an operating profit for the first time in 3 years. General Motors is still losing money in Europe, but expects to make a profit in 2016 after decades of losses. Still, its Opel/Vauxhall brand lost its third place to Renault, which passes Volkswagen in December thanks to its impressive last month of the year to become the brand with the biggest volume improvement in 2015 with 98.000 additional sales. With new model introductions of the Talisman, Megane and in the second half of the year the Scenic, plus benefiting from continued growth of the Kadjar and new Espace, the French actually have a shot at passing Ford this year. The Americans are only launching low-volume models this year, with the long-overdue replacements of the S-Max and Galaxy MPVs, and the introduction of the Edge large SUV.
Audi holds on to the title of best selling luxury brand, but BMW and Mercedes-Benz are closing in, as both show double the growth rates of their rival. Volvo is more than 450.000 sales behind the #3 in fourth place (18th overall).
Nissan was ahead of Toyota at the end of November, but thanks to an excellent month of December, Toyota manages to hold on to the title of most popular Asian brand in Europe, by a margin of less than 2.500 units. In 2014, the gap was still 48.500 units, so Nissan is closing in fast. The Japanese brand did manage to overtake Citroën last year, and increased the gap with Hyundai. Kia moved back ahead of Dacia despite the French-Romanian brand’s impressive first half of the year, and Mini passed Suzuki to enter the top-20. Jeep was the only brand to more than double its sales at +115,1%, and gaining 4 places in the process, two of which are its FCA stablemates Alfa Romeo and Lancia.
2015 brand ranking
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