European car sales have been on a wild ride in the second half of 2018, due to the introduction in September of a new fuel efficiency and emissions testing standard called WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Test Procedure), to which many manufacturers have found themselves unprepared. After September 1st , only vehicle types that had been tested under the new standard were allowed to be sold as new vehicles in Europe. That meant that every version of every model sold in the continent needed to be retested, but despite working round the clock, the testing agencies just didn’t have enough capacity to get this done in time. With some vehicle/engine combinations “illegal” after September 1st, automakers rushed to register these vehicles in August, leading to a 26,4% sales gain in what’s usually the slowest month of the year by far. However, as these unsold vehicles still needed to end up in consumers’ hands, sales in September suffered a backdrop of 23,1% as for the first time in modern history fewer cars were sold in September than in August. In the following months, sales continued to suffer from the continued backlog of pre-registered but unsold vehicles as well as reduced availability of certain model/engine combinations. Some manufacturers have been hit harder than others, with VW Group and Renault-Nissan among the hardest hit by the new testing procedures.
Back to November, which shows a 7,3% drop in sales compared to the same month in 2017 to 1,15 million cars, bringing the year-to-date total to 14,4 million sales, up just 0,4% compared to the first 11 months of the year before. Sales of car models (sedan, hatchback, station wagon, coupe and convertible) were down 9,4% and held 57,7% of the market. SUV sales were up 2,6% to 35,7% of the market, while MPV sales shrunk by 34,6% to just 6,6% of the market. Year-to-date, car sales are down 11,5%, SUV sales are up 7,7% and MPV sales are down 26,5%.
Big differences also exist between countries, with Lithuania the only market to show double digit growth at +17,2%, followed by Greece at +5,7% and Latvia at +4,9%. In contrast, 14 of the 30 countries showed double digit declines with Iceland (-29,7%), Sweden (-20,5%) and Austria (-20,1%) shrinking the most.
Year-to-date, demand continues to be fuelled by Central Europe, where new car registrations went up by 9,6% in the first eleven months of 2018. Of the major EU markets, Spain (+8%) and France (+4,7%) have had a strong year so far, while registrations are down in Italy (-3,5%) and the United Kingdom (-6,9%) during the same period. Among smaller markets, Lithuania (+25,5%), Romania (+24%) and Hungary (+20,4%) are the fastest growing, while Iceland (-14,4%), Norway (-5%) and Ireland (-4,4%) are shrinking.
Groups and brands
In November, only 3 manufacturers managed to increase their sales year-over-year: Geely Group thanks to its Volvo brand added almost 3.000 sales, an increase of 11,7%, while fellow Chinese manufacturer SAIC almost doubled its volume thanks to 449 additional sales and Toyota Motor inched out a 0,3% gain with 148 more sales than November 2017. As mentioned above, VW Group and Renault-Nissan still suffer from non-availability of certain model/engine combinations, with PSA also losing over 10.000 sales. Relatively, Tesla Motors is hardest hit with a loss of almost a quarter of its sales volume, followed by Subaru and Mahindra & Mahindra which suffer from a struggling SsangYong brand at the moment their own brand is just coming to life in Europe.
At brand level, Dacia is the big winner in November, ahead of Mitsubishi and Volvo, with small players DR Motor, Mahindra and Geely as the fastest growing brands, despite all being available in only one or just a few countries. On the losing side, Renault and Audi both lose over 25.000 sales in November, while Nissan loses almost 10.000 sales as well. Among small brands, Dodge, Infiniti and Rolls Royce all lose 60% of their sales compared to the year before.
November winners and losers
|Manufacturer biggest volume increase||Geely Group||2.927||Manufacturer biggest volume lost||Volkswagen Group||-35.391|
|Manufacturer biggest % increase||SAIC||95,1%||Manufacturer biggest % lost||Tesla Motors||-24,3%|
|Geely Group||11,7%||Subaru Corp.||-16,7%|
|Toyota Motor||0,3%||Mahindra & Mahindra||-16,1%|
|Brand biggest volume increase||Dacia||5.295||Brand biggest volume lost||Renault||-26.575|
|Brand biggest % increase||DR Motor||360,6%||Brand biggest % lost||Dodge||-60,9%|
Year-to-date, Hyundai-Kia is the big winner of 2018 so far, with over 56.000 additional sales as Kia has already set a new annual sales record for Europe with one month to spare. Toyota Motor grows by almost 30.000 sales and PSA adds just over 20.000 sales so far in 2018. SAIC is the only manufacturer to more than double its European sales in 2018 so far, with Subaru and Geely as the next fastest growing manufacturers at just over 7% growth. Daimler AG is Europe’s fastest declining manufacturer with almost 33.000 fewer sales in the first 11 months of 2018, followed by FCA at -28.000 and Ford at -15.000 sales.
Dacia is the fastest growing brand in Europe with over 63.000 additional sales, followed by Jeep and Peugeot both with over 50.000 extra sales. DR Motor, Mahindra and Dodge more than double their relatively low sales volume in Europe. Biggest loser so far is Audi with over 100.000 fewer cars sold, mostly due to reduced availability of popular versions of its models after the new testing procedures kicked in. Fiat and Nissan also lose more than 60.000 sales. Infiniti sold fewer than half the number of vehicles in the first 11 months of 2018 than in the same period in 2017, while Lancia and Lotus are sales are reduced by almost a quarter.
January-November winners and losers
|Manufacturer biggest volume increase||Hyundai-Kia||56.189||Manufacturer biggest volume lost||Daimler AG||-32.821|
|Toyota Motor||29.824||Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles||-28.294|
|PSA||21.305||Ford Motor Comp.||-15.644|
|Manufacturer biggest % increase||SAIC||110,6%||Manufacturer biggest % lost||Mahindra & Mahindra||-8,5%|
|Subaru Corp.||7,8%||Aston Martin||-5,5%|
|Brand biggest volume increase||Dacia||63.492||Brand biggest volume lost||Audi||-102.289|
|Brand biggest % increase||DR Motor||172,6%||Brand biggest % lost||Infiniti||-50,8%|
In the November brands ranking, the top-3 all lose volume but less than the overall market, with Ford back into 2nd place ahead of Peugeot, and Mercedes-Benz back in the top-4 ahead of the suffering Renault brand in fifth. BMW, Opel/Vauxhall and Skoda also lose sales but gain market share. Toyota is the best performing brand in the top-10 thanks to edging out a 0,6% gain in November, outselling Fiat, the second biggest loser in the top-10. Dacia outsells Hyundai and Audi to take 12th place with the latter down almost 40%. Nissan is down to 18th place behind Volvo and ahead of Suzuki, although there is quite a gap between those two Japanese brands in terms of sales. Outside the top-20, Jeep and Mitsubishi are growing fast, while Alfa Romeo and Porsche suffer from the WLTP introduction.
November brands ranking
|Brand||Nov 2018||Nov 2017||change||YTD rank|
Year-to-date, Renault manages to hold on to its #2 spot behind Volkswagen as Ford is struggling is well. Peugeot is closing in on 3rd place, well ahead of Opel/Vauxhall now. Audi is losing significant ground against Mercedes-Benz and BMW and is threatened to drop out of the top-10 with three brands within 10.000 sales behind it. Dacia has distanced Kia and surpassed Nissan, while Jeep has moved past Land Rover in the brands ranking. Mitsubishi now outsells Honda and if it manages to stay ahead of its Japanese rival next month, it would be only the second time since 1991 that Mitsubishi is ahead in the annual ranking. Alfa Romeo is still ahead of Jaguar despite struggling in recent months, thanks to a large pre-registration of non-WLTP-compliant vehicles in August. Alpine is slowly getting noticed with already 1.717 sales so far this year.
|Brand||2018||2017||change||2018 share||2017 rank|
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