Car sales in Europe continue their double digit growth in February, after a short interruption in January. Sales are up 13% to 1.077.352, the best February score since 2008 and the 30th consecutive month of growth for the European car market as it continues to slowly recover from the severe crisis. As in January, the gains are across almost all of Europe, with only Greece (-32,4%) and The Netherlands (-15%) contracting. The latter is due to a change in taxation of fuel efficient vehicles, which artificially boosted registrations in December, so the Dutch market should normalize as the year proceeds. The big winner is again Italy (+27,3%), once again larger than France (+13%) and now even the #2 market behind Germany (+12%) as the UK (+8.4%) traditionally has a weak first two months of the year as customers await the bi-annual license plate change in March, which usually pushes the UK to the #1 spot that month.
The love is also spread across all manufacturers, as all show growth in February, and the biggest volume loss at brand level is just 1.200 sales. As Italy is boosted, it’s not hard to guess which manufacturer is benefiting the most from this growth: FCA is the biggest winner, as it was in January, followed by Volkswagen Group and PSA Peugeot-Citroën. Skoda and especially Audi are boosting the VW Group, as Volkswagen and Seat are among the losers, albeit with small figures. In terms of relative growth, Lotus owner DRB-Hicom once again shoots up, followed by Mahindra&Mahindra thanks to their SsangYong brand, and Lada as its renewed distribution in Germany and Hungary marks the official starting point of a new mission to conquer Europe.
On brand level, Fiat adds the most volume, ahead of Opel/Vauxhall and Ford, while Mini is the biggest loser. The Countryman and Paceman are getting old, while the brand enjoyed a strong start of last year as the new generation hardtop had been launched. The new Clubman should help the brand stabilize in coming months. Jaguar and Infiniti are among the fastest growing brands, thanks to expansion of their portfolios. Tata has all but stopped sales in Europe, even though they had a booth at the Geneva Auto Show last month. Chevrolet is selling off the last remaining stock models, and will continue only with the Corvette and Camaro, the latter was the #3 best selling model in Europe last month.
Year-to-date sales are up 9,4% to 2.163.930 units and here too FCA leads the winners category, ahead of General Motors and PSA, while Mitsubishi Motors is the only manufacturer to lose sales. Considering it was back in the black in February, that shouldn’t last too long. SAIC MG is the fastest growing manufacturer and the second fastest brand, only outgrown by Jaguar. Opel/Vauxhall has added the most volume of all brands, just ahead of Fiat, while Ford is not far behind. Volkswagen is the biggest loser, together with Seat and Mini, like in February but in a different order.
Volkswagen is the only brand in the top-15 to lose volume, albeit just a little. Renault holds on to the #2 spot it also held this month last year, helped by Ford’s weak performance as the UK market is traditionally slow in February. Expect Ford to be firmly in 2nd place next month, and Opel/Vauxhall in 3rd place thanks to the UK-only latter brand. The GM pair is outsold by Peugeot this month despite growing 18,2%. In 6th place we find Fiat, the big winner in the top-15 with over a quarter more sales than last year. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz stay close to each other, and just like in China Mercedes is closing in on its rivals.
Year-to-date VW loses almost 1,5 percentage point of market share, while Renault reclaims its spot ahead of Opel/Vauxhall, although the GM brands will strike back in March on expected strong UK volume. Fiat has leapfrogged both Mercedes-Benz and BMW in February, moving up to #7, vs. 9th place both February 2015 and last January. Skoda knocks down Toyota to claim a top-10 position, while Citroën consolidates its position above Nissan, and so does Kia with Dacia. Volvo moves back ahead of Mazda, while Honda outsells Land Rover.
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