New car sales in Europe continue to crawl out of the deep trough slowly but steadily. An increase of 3,4% makes January 2015 the 13th consecutive year-over-year increase, bringing car sales back just above 2012 levels, but still a long way from pre-crisis levels. The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Selling Rate comes in at 12,8 million units, which would make 2015 the best year since 2011, when 14,1 million cars were sold in the continent.
Volkswagen Group is still ultra-dominant, as one in four new cars sold in Europe carry a Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda or Seat logo, but Renault-Nissan is quickly gaining ground, at +14,3% thanks to strong gains at its three major brands.
For Fiat-Chrysler, Jeep is still the fast-rising star as the Renegade has been rolled out successfully. The American SUV-brand is now the group’s second best selling brand, outselling Lancia(-Chrysler) and Alfa Romeo for the first time ever in Europe. To put this in perspective: Lancia-Chrysler sold more than three times as many cars as Jeep in January of 2014, and Alfa Romeo more than twice.
Another impressive performer is Mitsubishi, which continues to increase its recovery speed from its 2012 low. Almost doubling on January 2014 thanks to the three models that make up more than 90% of the brand’s sales, Mitsubishi has scored a market share of above 1% for the first time since the year 2000!
Tesla also keeps making inroads, as the rollout of the supercharger network across Europe continues, making the all-electric Model S sedan a feasible alternative to gasoline- or diesel-powered equivalents for an increasing number of car buyers.
In the three-horse premium race, the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class and GLA help the brand to a traditional strong start of the year with sales up 11,7%, overtaking BMW and closing in on Audi as the premium-leader in Europe. With sales down 3,5%, Audi can now feel both its competitors breathing down its neck, and with the new generations A4 and Q7 not in showrooms for another few months, it looks like we’ve got a real battle of the brands in the first half of the year.
The biggest loser in Europe is of course Chevrolet, which is selling off its last remaining stock models before retreating to the other side of the Atlantic. In a few countries, among which the UK, Chevrolet already sold no cars at all in January.
And if Subaru sales keep heading in the same direction for much longer, the brand may have to make a similar decision. It’s models don’t seem to connect with European car buyers anymore, and its standard All-Wheel Drive technology doesn’t help it in the very important fuel efficiency race that seems to dictate the sales charts more and more.
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