September was a very strong month of sales in the UK, as you can read in the European car sales brand ranking for September 2014 and as a result, models that do well in the UK market are expected to over-perform in the ranking this month. For example, the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Astra both move up one spot in the September ranking when compared to their year-to-date level. And in August, the Renault Clio came within 500 units of the Ford Fiesta, but in September, the Fiesta had a lead of more than 10.000 sales over the Clio, similar to last March, the other big month of UK sales.
The Volkswagen Polo is the biggest gainer in the top 10, thanks to its (minor) facelift. This makes two Volkswagens on the podium, as the Golf has held on to its traditional top spot, followed by four subcompacts, the Ford Focus and the Peugeot 208. Last month, the Audi A3 also benefited from strong UK volume, as did the Fiat 500 in 9th position.
Excellent performance of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, outselling its main rival BMW 3-series for the first time since November 2012, thanks to its new generation and also helped by BMW’s decision to rename the coupe and convertible versions as the 4-series. It’s unlikely the C-Class will overtake the 3-series for the full year, but considering it’s less than 200 units behind the aging Audi A4 year-to-date, the Merc will have moved into second place in the first week of October.
The Opel/Vauxhall Mokka has enjoyed a strong month of September as well, closing in on the Renault Captur with less than 400 sales between them, and leaving the Peugeot 2008 and especially the Dacia Duster behind. The Mokka benefited from the seasonal uplift in UK sales, but seems to be gaining traction across several markets in Europe, including Italy and France.
The new generation has helped the Renault Twingo up two thirds in September, passing the Hyundai i10 and closing in on the Volkswagen Up! this month. With its sights on a segment podium spot for 2015, the rear-engined, rear-wheel drive Twingo is starting strong. It’s aiming for a 27-30% share of the segment in its home market France, and will undoubtedly prove popular in minicar-heavy countries like Italy, Denmark and The Netherlands as well.
The highest ranking newcomer is the Volkwagen Golf Sportsvan, the replacement to the Golf Plus, which more than doubles sales of its predecessor twelve months ago. In only its third full month of customer deliveries, the Golf Sportsvan has broken through the 10.000 unit mark, an achievement the Golf Plus hasn’t managed at least since 2009 and possibly since 2006. The success of the new midsized MPV may cannibalize on Tiguan crossover and of course Touran sales, as those two models are both down more than one third this month and in danger of losing their year-to-date gains. As a result, combined sales of Volkswagen’s four offerings in the midsized crossover and MPV segments are still down on September 2013.
The Nissan Note continues the strong performance of its new generation, now outselling the segment leader Fiat 500L for the first time, which promises an exciting battle in the small MPV segment for 2015. Nissan also benefits from the recent model change of the midsized SUV X-Trail, which also replaces the 7-seater version of the Qashqai and shares the design philosophy of that already successful model. Sales of the X-Trail are at a level not seen by the nameplate since at least 2006.
Another SUV with strong sales is the Hyundai Santa Fe, lodging its highest monthly sales since September 2012 and almost doubling its figure of twelve months ago, as the South-Korean brand is relieving supply shortages thanks to huge popularity of the model in North America. The Kia Soul also has its best month since 2011, as the new generation of the boxy hatchback is hitting European showrooms. The Soul EV has proven popular in Zero Emission-heaven Norway, where the EV makes up 88% of all Souls sold in September.
Citroën seems to have struck gold with its quirky looking C4 Cactus, which outsells the regular C4 for the second month in a row. The Cactus is the forerunner for Citroën’s new philosophy for its C-line now that the DS-line is spun off into a stand-alone brand, and if the early sales figures are any indication of the customer reception, the French are heading in the right direction.
Helped by the introduction of BMW’s first ever MPV and first ever front-wheel drive car, the 2-series Active Tourer, the 2-series is already outselling competitors like the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Alfa Romeo Giulietta and has its sights set on the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. This may not be an entirely fair comparison, as the 2-series now includes both rear-wheel drive coupe and convertible models and a front-wheel drive MPV, which have very little in common. The coupe competes with the Mercedes-Benz CLA while the Active Tourer takes the B-Class head on. Unfortunately, the sales data of these different versions are not split out, making it difficult to compare.
The Porsche Macan continues its strong performance, as expected. But what may not have been expected is the hit its larger sibling the Cayenne takes. The Macan sells 1.609 units in September, which is exactly the same as the Cayenne sold in September 2013. So far, so good, except the fact that the Cayenne is down more than 80% to less than 300 units one year later. As a result, combined sales of Porsche’s two SUVs are up a mere 281 units this month, while the Macan was supposed to help increase total brand sales up another 50% into the 60.000 annual unit territory. Let’s see how this evolves in the next couple of months.
September was an excellent month for sales of Zero Emission vehicles by Renault-Nissan, with the Nissan Leaf breaking its all-time monthly record and crossing the 2.000 unit mark for the first time ever, while the Renault Zoe lodges its second-best ever month and more than doubles its tally for September 2013. As a result, this is the fifth straight month that both all-electric hatchbacks outsell the Toyota Prius Hybrid in Europe.
Models that appear for the first time in the monthly rankings are the Nissan Pulsar in 155th place with 1.501 sales, the Lexus NX at #223 with 437 sales, the Jeep Renegade at #234 with 361 sales and the Lamborghini Huracan in 296th position with 44 sales. No doubt these models will continue to progress in the coming months as supply picks up and customers start to take delivery of their new cars. I expect especially the Renegade to do well, as it enters Europe’s hottest segment with cool styling and a strong brand name.
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