In March 2014, European car sales increased 10,4% to 1.489.796 vehicles, bringing first quarter sales up 8,1% to 3.353.180. March marked the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year growth, which is starting to recover from the crisis that hurt the European car market in the past few years, as sales have decreased every year since 2007, losing more than 22% of its total volume.
As usual in March, the UK has a big influence on the brand rankings because of the twice-annual registration plate change, which gives UK-oriented brands Ford, Vauxhall(/Opel), Honda, Nissan and Jaguar-Land Rover a single month boost compared to brands that are relatively weak in the United Kingdom. In fact, over 31% of total European volume was registered in the UK last month, whereas it is usually Europe’s second biggest market behind Germany, at around 16 to 18% of total European sales over a full year.
As a result, Jaguar-Land Rover, Honda and Nissan sold more cars in March only than in January and February combined, while Ford and GM were also close to that ratio. In fact, Jaguar almost sold twice as many cars in March only than in January and February combined.
March winners are Renault-Nissan, helped by both the Renault brand (biggest volume increase at +17.766 sales) and the Dacia brand (biggest % increase at +51,2%) and the Volkswagen Group, thanks to sales increases for all of its volume brands, led by Skoda at +20,4% and a monthly sales record for the Czech brand, both in Europe and worldwide. Also successful are Lexus at +36,8% thanks to the new generation IS, Jeep at +32,4%, and the small Japanese players Mazda and Suzuki, up 26,4% and 20,9% respectively, thanks to successful launches of the Mazda3 and Suzuki S-Cross.
Increases at Opel-Vauxhall are dragged down by a big slump at Chevrolet, the brand that will be discontinued at the end of next year, as the American brand is already in the process of buying off dealer contracts all over the continent. Mini is also among the losers in March, as the brand is refreshing its line-up this year, with the new generation Mini hatchback in showrooms now. Honda, Smart and Alfa Romeo are the only other brands to lose volume on March 2013.
Manufacturer biggest volume increase
Manufacturer biggest volume lost
Ford Motor Co.
Manufacturer biggest % increase
Manufacturer biggest % lost
Brand biggest volume increase
Brand biggest volume lost
Brand biggest % increase
Brand biggest % lost
Year to date, the picture is not very different, with the Volkswagen Group following the market exactly at +8,1%, making it the biggest volume winner among automotive groups, as all of the group’s volume brands added sales, with Skoda pulling the biggest load at +17,8%. Renault-Nissan follows, led by Dacia, which has leapfrogged Seat and Kia in the process. Other year-to-date winners are Ford, Lexus, Mazda and Suzuki. Ford is actually the brand that gained the most volume in the first quarter of 2014, at +27.115 sales.
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