European car sales increased 5,95% in January 2016 to 1.086.564 units thanks to double digit growth in the Mediterranean countries Italy, Portugal and Spain, while the UK, Germany and France showed increases of between 2,9% to 3,9% as Italy even overtook France as the #3 country for new car sales in Europe. This means that the European car market has grown for 29 consecutive months, although the rebound from the crisis is very gradually as opposed to the US where records are being broken again.
There’s also change of guards when we look at which manufacturers are growing fast. If last year Volkswagen Group and Renault-Nissan were the clear leaders in volume growth, in January FCA took control, followed by the two big American corporations whose European operations are finally starting to climb out of the dip. Ford is already making money in Europe again and GM is hoping to return to black figures again soon as well, after cutting off excess fat (Chevrolet). The only way to do so is growth, so they’re on the right track. Mitsubishi Motors replaces Honda as the only manufacturer to lose volume, taking a break from growing so quickly in the last few years.
Looking at relative growth, the small players SAIC MG and Mahindra & Mahindra with its SSangYong brand continue the upward direction they were already following for most of last year, and they’re joined by Honda, the only loser of 2015, whose fortunes are finally turning as their European model range is getting an injection of eagerly awaited fresh products.
At brand level, Audi adds the most volume as its line of crossovers keeps scoring with consumers, but Opel/Vauxhall and Ford are following closely thanks to new products in their showrooms, as we’ll discuss in the model ranking later. Volkswagen is the big loser, as it also was in China and in the US for different reasons: a lack of focus in China, which means it doesn’t have the right products for that market, and a continued stop-sale order for diesel vehicles in the US, combined with depleted stocks of gasoline models and a huge image problem. In Europe, the fall-out from the Diesel scandal will certainly play a role in the fallback, although Audi sales seem unfazed by that scandal. Seat is also losing a lot of volume as suffers from a lack of new product, which will be solved when the Spanish brand launches its first crossover later this year. Mini takes a hit from its aging crossovers and a blow-back from having the new hatchback fresh in showrooms last year.
Jaguar is enjoying explosive growth thanks to the addition of the new “baby-Jag” XE, and UK-only MG also more than doubles its volume, and if the GS crossover makes the journey from China to the UK, the brand may be able to continue its winning streak.
Another Chinese brand, but with an Italian flavor is losing ground quickly, as DR loses almost half of its volume, trumped only by Chevrolet, which has now officially left the European market. Lamborghini is also struggling, as the Huracan is no longer brand new and customers are waiting for the Spyder version to arrive in showrooms.
Winners and losers
|Manufacturer biggest volume increase||Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles||8.765||Manufacturer biggest volume lost||Mitsubishi Motors
|Ford Motor Corp.||7.586|
|Manufacturer biggest % increase||SAIC MG||131,9%||Manufacturer biggest % lost||Mitsubishi Motors
|Mahindra & Mahindra||64,4%|
|Brand biggest volume increase||Audi||8.057||Brand biggest volume lost||Volkswagen||-3.230|
|Brand biggest % increase||Jaguar||162,9%||Brand biggest % lost||Chevrolet||-54,1%|
Volkswagen is the only brand in the top-10 to lose volume, but naturally still leads with a large margin. Ford holds on to its #2 spot, while Opel/Vauxhall passes Renault, which sees a little blowback from having blockbuster sales in December and a weak home market in France. Or maybe the weak month in France is due to a large number of unsold pre-registrations by Renault in December?
Audi creates some more distance between itself and its main rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW and even closes in on Peugeot’s fifth place. Nissan is the second brand to lose volume and drops two places as Skoda and Citroën move ahead. Hyundai and Kia keep showing nice growth, as Kia passes Dacia again. Mazda is still the fastest growing brand in the top-20 with another 37% increase, which means it overtakes Volvo for 18th place.
Land Rover and Honda jump Mini and Mitsubishi, and Honda is even closing in on Suzuki now. However, Suzuki has a few big product launches coming up this year with the Baleno and Ignis, so will strike back in a few months time. Jeep adds another third to its volume as the Renegade keeps lifting the brand, now ahead of Smart. It looks like Lancia and Alfa Romeo have hit bottom, even though the former is down to a single model and the latter is still waiting for that Giulia to arrive. The 510 hp Giulia QV will be in showrooms in a few weeks time, but won’t be a volume booster. Jaguar passes Subaru and Lexus while Tesla now outsells Maserati.
January 2016 brand ranking