The European car market has finished 2015 with a bang, at +14,75% in December to 1,14 million sales. This is the highest year-on-year improvement of any month in 2015, and beats November’s +13,25% both in terms of growth and in absolute figures.
French manufacturers Renault-Nissan and PSA added the most volume, followed by Ford Motor Corp., as Volkswagen Group added only 4.592 sales or 1,9% in December, but remains the biggest winner of 2015. That means we can conclude that the diesel emission scandal has had only a limited effect on the manufacturer’s sales in Europe, even though all of its brands gain less than the overall market and Seat (-3.062 sales) and Porsche (-12,6%) are even among the biggest losers in December.
For only the third time this year, Renault is the #2 brand behind Volkswagen and ahead of Ford, thanks to a 28,7% gain on new models. Peugeot follows in fourth place with a 27,2% gain ahead of Opel/Vauxhall. We’ll discuss the reason for Peugeot‘s stellar month a bit further below.
Asian brands generally had a successful December, as Toyota sneaked past Skoda into the top-10, while Mazda (+57,3%), Mitsubishi (+55%) and Hyundai (+37,5%) are the fastest growing major brands. Mazda is helped by new models, Mitsubishi by surging demand for its SUVs and Hyundai is boosted by improvements of the facelifted i30 and i10 and the new Tucson.
The surprise of the month is the Peugeot 308 in a record third place with over 27.000 sales, also an absolute record for the month. This is the result of the tiny Dutch market (just 69.000 units in December), as a change in the taxation of company cars in 2016 has led to a surge in registrations of PHEV and other fuel efficient cars to benefit from the looser regulations last year. For example, the Peugeot 308 was the absolute best seller in The Netherlands with 12.000 sales or 17,4% market share, more than any other brand has sold, and compared to 17.000 sales of that model in the first 11 months of 2015. As a result, the 308 has risen to the #3 spot in the European model ranking with a record 27.144 sales. It will face a payback in the first half of this year as some of those preregistered Dutch 308’s have not yet been sold. Similarly, the Mitsubishi Outlander more than triples its European volume to 7.805 sales and #46 with almost half of those sales registered in The Netherlands.
Ahead of the 308, the Renault Clio delivers an excellent performance in December to claim the #2 spot behind the perennial leader Volkswagen Golf, while the Renault Captur re-enters the top-10 for only the second time this year. Since we’re looking at Renault, also notice the Kadjar enter the top-30 and break past the 10.000 sales mark. The Espace improves to 3.181 sales and the French also deliver 1.156 all-new Talisman sedans to dealers. The Zoe delivers a record 3.084 sales and is followed in the EV segment by the Tesla Model S which also breaks its sales record at 2.737 units.
The new generation Ford Mondeo (#61) has finally managed to outsell the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia (#64), although that still doesn’t give it the 2nd place in the midsize segment as the Skoda Superb superbly doubles its volume of the previous generation last year to jump into the top-60, 200 units ahead of the Mondeo.
We welcome one new model to the ranking this month: the Fiat Tipo at #207 with 667 sales for the “entry-compact” sedan. We’ll follow the progress of the Tipo in the coming months to see if it can become successful in Europe outside of its “home” market Turkey, although we’ll have to wait until the launch of the hatchback and station wagon before the model will hit 75.000 annual sales or even more, as our readers expect it to do.
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