In February, European sales of passenger cars increased 4,4% to 1,15 million, which marks the fifth consecutive year of February sales growth, with sales up almost 40% on the nearly 829.000 sales of February 2013. Crossover and SUVs are the only segment to grow with an increase of 22,7% to a share of just over a third of the market while car models (hatchbacks, sedans, staton wagons, coupes and convertibles) lost 1,5% to 57,7% of the market and MPVs continued their sharp decline at -13,3% to 100.000 sales, 8,7% of the market.
Like in January, early all major EU markets posted growth, except for the United Kingdom (-2,8%) which suffered the 11th month of consecutive declines and Italy (-1,4%). Spain (+13%) recorded the strongest gains, followed by Germany (+7,4%) and France (+4,3%). The fastest growing markets were Croatia (+46,8% and Bulgaria (+42,2%), followed by Greece (+31,7%) and Estonia (+21,2%). Besides the UK, other markets in the red were Iceland and Norway (both -13,5%), Slovakia (-7,4%) and Belgium (-3,2%). Then there were eight more markets with declines of less than 3%.
The biggest winner among manufacturers is Volkswagen Group, helped by the introduction of an expanding line-up of crossovers and SUVs last year, as the company is playing catch up in this fast-growing segment. PSA increased its sales by just over 10.000 units, followed by Ford Motor Company which adds more than 6.500 sales to its February tally. In relative terms, both VW Group and Ford grew by more than 9% but are eclipsed by SAIC with a 67,6% increase thanks to the introduction of the ZS crossover. In the losing aisle are FCA with a loss of nearly 3.500 sales, followed by Tata Motors and Honda, back in the red after a small increase in January. Aston Martin loses over 40% of its volume and Tesla continues to struggle after pulling forward sales in December.
At brand level, Peugeot is the big winner in February, adding over 11.000 sales, followed by Volkswagen as the only other brand to grow by five figures. As third-biggest winner, Skoda adds 6.500 sales. Small-time player Dodge sells five times as many cars in February 2018 as it did a year before, followed by Lamborghini up more than 90% and SAIC MG up more than 60%.
With FCA as the worst performing manufacturer yet Jeep up so strong, the losses must stem from its other brands, and indeed Fiat is the biggest loser among brands, with Lancia in third place behind Opel/Vauxhall. In relative terms, Infiniti is the biggest loser with more than half of its volume gone, a level Lotus and Lancia are not far behind.
After relinquishing its 2nd place to Ford in January, Renault is back behind leader Volkswagen again, and Peugeot is in third place for the second month in a row, something which has never happened before. Peugeot is the biggest winner in the top-10 and is just 1.000 sales off the #2 spot, helped by its range of crossovers. That leaves Ford in 4th place as the American brand is traditionally weak in February but strong in March due to its relatively large dependence on the UK market. Expect Ford to be behind VW next month as well as for the first quarter. Opel/Vauxhall and Fiat are the big losers in the top-10 and the Italian brand barely stays ahead of Mercedes-Benz and Audi for 6th place. Skoda edges ahead of BMW, leaving Toyota out of the top-10 again. Behind Citroën, Dacia scores a third consecutive month of 40k+ sales for the first time as the brand outsells Nissan, Hyundai and Kia. Seat is the big winner in the top-20 while Jeep moves up another notch to #22, up from #25 in the full year 2017 ranking. It’s the first time in 18 months that Jeep outsells Land Rover, while Jaguar drops behind Lexus for the first time in 24 months.
Its consistent 4th places both months while its two rivals fluctuate leaves Peugeot just 800 sales of the #2 spot so far this year. As mentioned above, Ford will pull away in March but the French brands should narrow the gap in the following months. Opel/Vauxhall and Fiat are the only brands in the red in the top-13 while Fiat is down 2 places on the same period last year but up 3 places on January. Skoda wins 2 places on last year to kick Toyota out of the top-10 which now contains no Asian brands. Seemingly under the radar, Hyundai continues to improve and stays ahead of Nissan, although the Japanese brand will also strike back next month on strong UK volume. Dacia moves past Kia to enter the top-15 while Land Rover drops behind Jeep and Honda as it also depends heavily on the UK.
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