The European car market continues its steady growth in 2017 as almost 1,2 million passenger cars were sold in January, an increase of 9,6% on the previous year and a 16% increase on 2015. Some of this gain can be attributed to additional business days so we’ll have to wait until the February data is published to see how the market develops at the start of 2017. On a positive note, 21 out of the 30 countries show double digit gains, including 4 out of the 5 major markets: Spain (+10,7%), France (+10,6%), Germany (+10,5%) and Italy (+10,1%) while the UK market grew at a more modest rate of +2.9%. Only 3 countries showed declines: Switzerland (-3,7%), Ireland (-1,8%) and Slovakia (-1,2%). Big loser of 2016 The Netherlands rebounds to become the big winner with sales up 27,1%.
The big winners in the manufacturers ranking are similar to those in most of 2016: Volkswagen Group adds the most volume, followed by Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles and Renault-Nissan (now including Mitsubishi and Lada), all three adding more than 10.000 sales. On the other end of the scale we find only three Japanese manufacturers which lose volume: Mazda, Honda and SAIC MG, although their losses are limited to less than 2.000 units. If we look at relative growth, Aston Martin and Tesla more than double up, while Suzuki grows by almost a third. At brand level, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat and Toyota all grow by a similar figure: just over 9.500 additional sales for the three brands. In contrast, Audi loses 3.800 sales, and DS and Mazda are also among the big losers. In terms of relative growth, Maserati joins Aston Martin and Tesla with more than a double up, while Chevrolet, SAIC MG and DS all lose about a third of their volume or more.
After finising 2016 in 2nd place of the brands ranking, Renault starts 2017 off in fourth place, even though it’s the fastest growing brand in the top-4. Traditionally, the French brand likes to backlog fleet and demo registrations to the last month of a quarter but then suffers in the next month and this is what happened in January again after a record December for the brand. Peugeot is back above the luxury brands again in 5th place, helped by the new 3008 while Audi drops from #1 luxury brand to #3 behind its rivals and 9th place overall as it loses 6,1% of its volume. Toyota is the biggest gainer in the top-15 thanks to the C-HR and distances Nissan as the best selling Asian brand. Seat grows by more than a quarter thanks to the new Ateca while Suzuki is the big winner in the top-25, helped by the Ignis and Baleno. After growing quickly in recent years, Land Rover and Jeep take a breather as both brands await the arrival of new models before continuing their ascent. Alfa Romeo and Jaguar are not slowing down as they’ve still got enough fresh metal in their showrooms. Contrastingly, DS is headed the other way as it has pinned its hope for survival on the new crossover, but in the meantime is tumbling down the ranking, as the French brand is outsold by Porsche and barely manages to stay ahead of Lexus. Infiniti and Maserati both double up but remain niche players so far.
European car sales statistics are from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom. They exclude vehicles registered as commercial vehicles.
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