European sales of passenger cars rebounded strongly in April 2018 after the first loss of the year in March. 1,34 million cars were sold in Europe this month, an increase of 9,7% on April 2017, when sales declined 7,2% on a 19,8% loss in the UK market due to an increase in the Vehicle Excise Duty that month. Accordingly, the UK is up by 10,4% this April, its first year-over-year improvement since March 2017 when sales were pulled forward in anticipation of the tax hike. Whereas the UK is traditionally the #1 European market in March, as it was this year as well, in April it is down to #4 in terms of volume, behind Germany (+8%), France (+9%) and Italy (+6,5%). Spain even outgrew the UK in April with a gain of 12,3%.
The fastest growing markets (albeit from a low base) were Hungary and Lithuania (both +38,9%), followed by Greece and Norway (both +24%), while the only markets to show a decline in April were Iceland (-11,8%) and Cyprus (-2,8%), both markets of fewer than 2.000 sales. Crossover and SUVs enjoyed their biggest jump in sales since September 2014 at +30,6% taking 33,8% of the market (a slightly lower percentage than in March), while car models (hatchbacks, sedans, station wagons, coupes and convertibles) were up just 3,6% to 57,2% of the market, a new low and MPVs slowed their decline at -11% to 9% of the market.
In the four months of 2018, European car sales are up 2,8% to 5,56 million, with Spain (+11%) as the biggest gainer among major markets, followed by Germany (+5%) and France (+4,4%) with stable sales in Italy (+0,2%) while the UK (‐8,8%) is still a drag on the whole market. Crossover sales are up 21,4% in the first four months, while car models lost 2,6% and MPVs lost 18,3%.
The biggest winner among manufacturers is Volkswagen Group with a whopping 40.000 additional sales compared to the same month last year. This gain is bigger than those of Renault-Nissan and PSA combined, which each add about 15.000 sales to their tallies. The only manufacturers to lose ground are BMW Group and Mahindra & Mahindra, but those losses are limited to 1.220 units or less. Still, its 251-unit loss is almost 17% of M&M’s European sales, making it the fastest declining manufacturer in Europe this month. The fastest growing is China’s SAIC with sales almost quadrupling thanks to its MG brand. Tesla Motors also continues to outperform, but the almost 20% gain of Toyota Motor is perhaps the most impressive considering its already significant size and its maturity in the market.
At brand level, Volkswagen adds almost 26.000 sales on last year, followed by Ford and Peugeot, both with just over 10.000 additional sales. Fiat, BMW and Lancia are among the big losers, with almost 4.000 fewer deliveries for the Italian brand. Fastest growing brands are MG, still UK only despite the relatively successful launch of the ZS crossover, DR Motor thanks to an expanding model line-up and Bugatti with 2 deliveries of the Chiron hypercar, double the number of last year. In the losing aisle we find once again Infiniti, down by almost half, while Mahindra and Lancia also lose more than a quarter of their sales. At Mahindra, the new KUV100 small crossover could turn things around for the brand, which is only available in a few markets (Italy, Hungary and Greece), but the Italian brand has no plans to replace its only remaining model, the Ypsilon, anytime soon.
April winners and losers
|Manufacturer biggest volume increase||Volkswagen Group||40.341||Manufacturer biggest volume lost||BMW Group||-1.220|
|Renault-Nissan||15.733||Mahindra & Mahindra||-251|
|Manufacturer biggest % increase||SAIC||278,5%||Manufacturer biggest % lost||Mahindra & Mahindra||-16,9%|
|Tesla Motors||45,1%||BMW Group||-1,5%|
|Brand biggest volume increase||Volkswagen||25.982||Brand biggest volume lost||Fiat||-3.984|
|Brand biggest % increase||SAIC MG||278,5%||Brand biggest % lost||Infiniti||-46,9%|
Year-to-date, Volkswagen Group has already added almost 90.000 sales to its 2017 figure in just four months time, with Hyundai-Kia and PSA far behind in terms of growth. FCA Fiat-Chrysler is the biggest loser in Europe with a loss of 10.000 sales. Tata Motors reduces its loss to 8.400 sales and Ford Motor Company moves from the biggest loser in the first quarter to the #3 loser thanks to a successful April. In terms of relative declines, behind Aston Martin the two Indian manufacturers trade places with M&M with its SSangYong brand now losing more than Tata Motors with its Jaguar and Land Rover brands.
Looking at brands, Volkswagen is suddenly the big winner thanks to a blockbuster month of April, ahead of Peugeot and Dacia, while Opel/Vauxhall, Fiat and Nissan remain the biggest losers. Relatively, Dodge is still the fastest growing brand with sales more than tripling, while SAIC MG and Bugatti also double up. Infiniti remains the fastest shrinking brand, losing more than half of its volume, while Aston Martin and Lancia-Chrysler also lose more than a third of their sales.
January – April winners and losers
|Manufacturer biggest volume increase||Volkswagen Group||89.730||Manufacturer biggest volume lost||Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles||-10.011|
|PSA||17.948||Ford Motor Comp.||-5.616|
|Manufacturer biggest % increase||SAIC||102,6%||Manufacturer biggest % lost||Aston Martin||-35,6%|
|Hyundai-Kia||9,7%||Mahindra & Mahindra||-10,5%|
|Brand biggest volume increase||Volkswagen||47.361||Brand biggest volume lost||Opel/Vauxhall||-25.220|
|Brand biggest % increase||Dodge||219,8%||Brand biggest % lost||Infiniti||-57,5%|
|SAIC MG||102,6%||Aston Martin||-35,6%|
Market leader Volkswagen is the biggest winner in the top-10 and consolidates its control of the European market. Behind it, Renault outsells Ford to slash its year-to-date gap in half, despite growing slower than the overall market. Ford and Peugeot beat the market, while Mercedes-Benz is stable and therefore outsells Opel/Vauxhall for 5th place. Audi and BMW both lose volume this month with the latter down into 10th place vs #8 year to date. Skoda grows with double digits and moves into 8th place. Just outside of the top-10, Toyota (+19,8%), Dacia (+26,2%), Hyundai (+14,6%) and Seat (+23,1%) all outgrow the market by a significant margin. But the biggest winner in the top-35 is Jeep with a gain of 72,5%, outselling Land Rover for the second time this year. Jaguar and DS also show impressive growth, the latter growing for the first time in nearly two full years, indicating the bottom has been reached.
April brands ranking
In the Year-to-date ranking, Renault still trails Ford but should be able to move back into 2nd place in the coming months. After a slow month of April, BMW has dropped behind Audi itno 8th place and #3 among luxury brands. Skoda passes Toyota to reclaim its top-10 position, leaving no Asian brands among the 10 best sellers in Europe. Dacia narrows the gap to Kia‘s 15th place while Jeep moves past Honda to take #23 in the brands ranking and Porsche jumps ahead of Jaguar for 28th place. Finally, DS is back ahead of Lexus in 31st place.
January – April brands ranking
|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