After discussing the brand ranking for European car sales in March 2015, we now look at the models ranking. Like the brands, this ranking is also influenced by the traditionally strong selling month in the UK, as this market took three out of every ten cars sold in March, compared to two out of every ten over the course of an entire year. As a result, the models that sell relatively well in the UK benefit from strong March volumes. These include the Ford Fiesta and Focus (UK’s # 1 and #3), Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Astra, Nissan Qashqai, Fiat 500, Mini and Audi A3.
For example, like I already predicted in the February models ranking, the Ford Fiesta has a blockbuster month which helps it move ahead of its main competitors Corsa, Clio and Polo year-to-date after falling behind the trio after the first two months. In fact, the Fiesta has its best selling month in three years, the Corsa its best month in four years, while there are no less than five models in the top-30 that reach their best-ever sales month this march: the Qashqai, A3, 500, Mini and Nissan Juke break their own monthly sales records at over 31.500, over 24.500, over 23.000, almost 17.000 and almost 15.000 sales respectively.
A bit further below, both the Hyundai i10 and the i20 reach their highest volumes in Europe ever, the latter thanks to its new generation, which clearly has been well-received in this important market for the brand. These early signs of success could give Hyundai a boost to reach half a million European sales, as sales have stabilized between 410.000 and 430.000 units in the last four years after an impressive growth curve.
Even the Fiat Panda, which is not overly dependent on the UK market, shows its highest volume in at least three years, although well behind its sibling 500 this month, at 19.385 sales.
All these impressive UK performers and record breakers must mean there are some models suffering in the rankings as well. And the biggest surprise is the Skoda Octavia: after showing impressive monthly top-7 finishes for the last few months, the Czech superstar drops out of the top-10 to #15, its worst ranking since June 2013. The Volkswagen Passat also drops from #8 in February to # 17 in March.
Further down the ranking, the new generation Toyota Aygo in 47th place is enjoying its strongest volume in at least six years, threatening the Volkswagen Up! and leaving its twins Peugeot 108 (#63) and Citroën C1 (#70) far behind this month.
The new generation Ford Mondeo is finally taking off in 59th place and closing in on the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia (#46), although it still sells less than half of its main rival the VW Passat.
The Range Rover Evoque at #73 seems to be unhurt by the arrival of the similarly sized Land Rover Discovery Sport and its own imminent facelift, as sales still improve 12% year-on-year.
The Nissan Pulsar in 86th position is finally hitting the sales pace the Japanese brand had predicted for its all-new compact hatchback, although it seems to be helped by a large order of rental cars in Spain. I’ll keep an eye on the model in April to see if it can continue this kind of volume or if it indeed was due to a short-term boost.
The Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X continue to improve together, now in 98th and 101st place and both above 5.000 monthly units for the first time, but there’s still plenty of room to grow, especially for the 500X.
The Smart Forfour (#114) is creeping ever so close to its two-door sibling Fortwo (#105), with only 269 sales between the two. The introduction of the four-door four-seater helps the brand to its highest monthly volume in at least three years, but it also clearly cannibalizes on sales of its trademark two-seater.
March 2015 has been a good month for EV-sales, with both the Nissan Leaf (#130) and the Renault Zoe(#179) almost doubling their sales on the same month of last year and both the Leaf and the Tesla Model S (#148) reaching their highest monthly sales ever. For the Leaf this also means the highest-ever monthly sales of an all-electric car in Europe.
Newcomers this month are the Mercedes-AMG GT at #248 with 249 sales, the Lexus RC at #270 with 112 sales and the Mitsubishi Attrage at #277 with 67 sales. The latter is a sedan version of the Space Star, especially developed for South-East Asian markets, but now also available in selected European countries.
Year-to-date, the ranking has been shuffled because of the UK, with the Fiesta returning to its traditional 2nd place, which it hasn’t yet held this year, while the Focus leapfrogs no less than 5 models to move into 7th place, from 12th after the first 2 months. The Mini also makes great inroads, moving from #40 at the end of February to #29 a month later. Reversely, the Skoda Octavia drops from 7th to 9th, and the VW Passat is kicked out of the top-10 into 12th place.
The Qashqai has broken through the 1,5 million cumulative sales in Europe, and it has done so in just 8 years. This also makes it by far the most popular SUV / crossover ever in this continent.
Its impressive month of March has helped the Opel/Vauxhall Astra to close back in on the Peugeot 308, but not enough to take back its position above the French model. With the new generation nearing its introduction, this may have been the last twitch of the current-gen Astra.
The biggest volume-loser is the BMW 3-series with a drop of over 10.000 units, while the VW Golf Sportsvan, Citroën C4 Cactus and BMW 2-series are the biggest volume winners, each adding over 20.000 units on Q1 of last year, when they were just being introduced.
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