August is traditionally the slowest month of the year for car sales due to the summer holidays, and with just under 778.500 units it is down by a third on July. When compared to August 2014, car sales are actually up 11,3%, which is the third highest increase so far this year. As a result, year-to-date volume is up to 9.328.003 units, an increase of 8,4%, the highest improvement it has been so far in 2015.
If you’re wondering if Volkswagen has been hurt by the emission scandal in the US and the subsequent stop-sale of its diesel-powered vehicles in a few European markets, it will be hard to tell from its August sales figures, as these events didn’t take place until the last week of the month. We’ll have to wait for the September figures to give a substantiated verdict, but so far we can only claim that VW has the smallest increase of the top-15 brands in August at +3,4%, while Renault is the fastest growing brand of the top-15 at +20,3% thanks to showing the biggest volume increase of all brands, followed by Opel/Vauxhall and BMW.
However, not all is well at Renault, because its budget brand Dacia, which was a regular member of the fastest growing brands group in the first half of this year, is the biggest volume loser for the second month in a row, losing 2.300 units on August of last year as the new generations of the Sandero and Logan and the facelifted Duster are starting to lose their freshness. DS and Honda are also among the biggest losers, albeit with much smaller losses of less than 600 units each.
Relatively, Great Wall goes from being among the fastest losers in recent months to the fastest growing brand by a large margin. The recent decline is the result of the end of production for the Voleex C20R subcompact hatchback in its factory in Bulgaria, while the sudden improvement in August likely reflects the start of local production of the (Haval) H6 compact crossover. Jaguar (thanks to the XE), Smart (both the new Fortwo and Forfour), Tesla and Jeep (Renegade) are also more than double their August 2014 volume.
Reversely from its fellow Chinese brand Great Wall, SAIC MG has been one of the fastest growing brands in recent months, but suddenly moves to the loser’s side with a loss of 43,4%, the biggest loss besides Chevrolet. Since August is traditionally a slow month in the UK, its only market, while September is the second biggest month of the year there, we’ll have to wait and see if this was a freak event or a change of fortunes for the brand. If so, the planned introduction of the MG GS crossover in 2016 can’t come too early.
Looking at the German Premium Big 3, their July (and YTD) order has completely reversed in August, with BMW ahead of Mercedes-Benz, and Audi in third place. Fiat drops from 9th in July and YTD to 12th in August as its home market Italy is traditionally influenced the most by the August holidays, as the brand is still up 7,6% on August 2014. Toyota continues to eat away at Nissan‘s newly acquired crown of the biggest Asian brand in Europe, but expect a rebound in September thanks to Nissan‘s strong position in the UK.
The UK’s bi-annual license plate change in March and September has caused another unique event this year: For the second time ever, Jeep outsells Land Rover in Europe to become the biggest SUV-only brand, as it did for the first time last February. Of course this is also due to a strong performance by the American brand on its success of the Renegade, but expect Land Rover to strike back hard next month as it will probably more than triple its August volume and sell more than twice as many SUVs than Jeep.
Year-to-date, the big news is that General Motors is out of negative territory thanks to a couple of strong months by Opel/Vauxhall and as a result of Chevrolet having started its plunge in the second half of last year and therefore represents a much smaller share of GM’s sales in Europe. Reversely, Aston Martin drops back into the red, albeit by just 2 units or a loss of 0,2%, Making Honda the only manufacturer to be well and truly down so far this year.
The brands that showed the biggest volume increases in August, Renault and Opel/Vauxhall, are fighting for third position in Europe, with Renault seemingly comfortable in the lead for now, 13.641 sales ahead of its challenger. Still, next month could make for a change of positions as Opel/Vauxhall outsold their French rival by almost 14.500 units in September 2014. This is a result of traditionally strong September volume in the UK market, in which Vauxhall takes about 30% of Opel/Vauxhall European volume. The battle for third place behind Volkswagen and Ford is therefore closer than you’d expect from its current YTD standings.
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