Sales of compact cars in Europe are growing slightly faster than the market in the first quarter of 2014, up 8% while the overall market is up 7%. And whereas the growth in the subcompact segment can be fully attributed to the Renault-Nissan alliance, the compact segment’s growth is fully thanks to the VW Group’s compact platform with the Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia and Seat Leon increasing their first quarter sales by a combined 45.628 units, while the whole segment grows by 43.314 sales.
The Golf doesn’t just increase its stranglehold on the segment, it’s actually the biggest gainer in absolute figures, adding almost 19.000 units to its first quarter sales, still outselling its nearest competitor by a 2-to-1 margin.
The new generation Octavia is moving into previously unthinkable territory, surpassing the Opel/Vauxhall Astra to jump onto the segment podium. To make this performance even more incredible, the Octavia outsold the Ford Focus both in January and February to become the second best selling car of the European compact segment! Only thanks to an excellent month of March in the UK has the Focus managed to stay ahead of its Czech rival. UK sales peak heavily in March and September every year, due to the license plate changeover. As a result, models that sell relatively well over there, for example the Ford Fiesta and Focus and Vauxhall Corsa and Astra, also see their sales peak in those months.
Below the podium, the Renault Megane is down two spots, indicating an unsuccessful facelift and heavy competition in its home market France by the all-new Peugeot 308. In fact, the 308 is one of the cars that pass the Megane in European sales, together with the Toyota Auris, benefiting from it’s hybrid powertrain and station wagon combination. Still an impressive performance for the Auris, which was still in 10th position in 2012.
Also worth mentioning are the impressive gains of both the Skoda Rapid, thanks to the addition of the “Spaceback” hatchback version and the Mazda3, thanks to the new generation and its fuel efficient SkyActiv engines. And the full-electric Nissan Leaf, more than doubling its sales again, now outselling its hybrid competitor Toyota Prius, thanks to excellent sales in Norway. Almost 40% of European Nissan Leaf sales take place in Norway, where the model is in third position behind the also full-electric Tesla Model S and the VW Golf.
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