After ending on a down note in the last quarter of 2018, European car sales continue their negative trend in January 2019. Registrations of new passenger cars were down 3,9% to nearly 1,23 million sales, still above 2017 levels. Most of the decline can still be attributed to the after effects of the introduction of new fuel efficiency and emissions testing standard called WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Test Procedure) in September. Demand for new cars fell across almost the entire European Union, including the five major markets. Spain and Italy posted the strongest declines (down 8% and 7,5% respectively), while the United Kingdom was surprisingly stable at ‐1,6%. Germany (‐1,4%) and France (‐1,1%) also did better than average. Best performing market was Lithuania (+49%), followed by Romania (+18,8%) and Hungary (+9,2%). The only other markets to improve on 2018 were Portugal (+8,3%), Denmark (+7%), Greece (+3,7%) and Latvia (+0,7%). The biggest declines were seen in Iceland (-47,9% to just 846 registrations), Netherlands (-18,8%) and Czech Republic (-17%).
Sales of car models (sedan, hatchback, station wagon, coupe and convertible) were down 11,2% and held 56% of the market. SUV sales were up 1,8% to 37,4% of the market, once again a new record as the previously highest share stood at 36,4% in September 2018, and a share of 34,9% for the full year 2018. Sales of MPVs continued to tank, down 19,6% to just 6,6% of the market.
Groups and brands
In January, only 5 manufacturers managed to increase their sales year-over-year: Geely Group thanks to its Volvo brand added almost 3.000 sales, an increase of 12,8%, while the other four January winners were the four smallest manufacturers in Europe: Aston Martin, General Motors, SAIC Motor and Tesla. Tesla sales were up 22,6%, while the others all improved by more than 50%, but all remained below 800 sales in January. In the losers aisle, we find Volkswagen Group down by 27.000 sales, way ahead of FCA and Renault–Nissan, both losing just over 15.000 sales. In relative terms, that means FCA was the biggest loser in Europe with sales down 17,8%, followed by Honda with sales down 14,8% and Mahindra & Mahindra, losing 10,7% of its volume in Europe.
At brand level, Volvo added the most sales at just over 3.000, followed by Lancia with over 2.300 additional sales of the Ypsilon in its single remaining market Italy, and Dacia, up nearly 2.200 sales after already being one of the big winners in 2018. Fiat, Nissan and Audi are the big losers among brands, with Fiat responsible for virtually all losses of its parent company, Nissan for two thirds responsible for its parent’s losses, and Audi accounting for more than a third of VW Group’s losses. Relatively, Bugatti is the big winner in Europe with sales up threefold (from one to three deliveries), with DR Motor, Lamborghini and Mahindra also more than doubling up. Dodge sales are down by more than half, with Porsche not far below that threshold and Infiniti also losing a significant chunk of its already declining European volume.
January winners and losers
|Geely Group||2.975||Manufacturer biggest
|General Motors||59,7%||Manufacturer biggest
|Aston Martin||52,3%||Mahindra & Mahindra||-10,7%|
In the January brands ranking, the entire top-10 loses volume, with Audi as the biggest loser, but Renault, Skoda, Opel/Vauxhall and Ford also in trouble. This allows Peugeot to climb to the #2 spot behind Volkswagen, thanks to a loss of just 2,7% which makes it the best performer of the top-10, with Mercedes-Benz not far behind. This is also the highest ranking for Peugeot in the European brands ranking, with the previous best being third place which it hit five times in 2018. Ford starts the year ahead of Renault again, as it has done in the last few years before the French brand strikes back later in the year. Toyota is up to 7th place, a position it hasn’t held in the last decade and recently scoring no higher than 8th place in January, August and September 2018. The Japanese brand finished 8th in the annual rankings in 2004 and 2006 to 2009 and 7th in 2005, but has been out of the annual top-10 until 2018. Mercedes-Benz distances BMW in the luxury brands ranking, with Audi falling further behind again. Fiat is knocked out of the top-10 into 12th place but isn’t even the biggest loser in the top-25 as that dubious honor goes to Nissan, down to a lowly 17th place. Meanwhile Dacia climbs 3 places, outselling both Hyundai and Kia, and Nissan of course. Volvo is the big winner in the top-25, Land Rover is back above Jeep after being outsold by the American brand in 2018. Lancia is back above stablemate Alfa Romeo, and even Jaguar is back above Alfa.
January brands ranking
European car sales statistics are from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom. They exclude vehicles registered as commercial vehicles. Source: ANDC, JATO Dynamics