Western European new car market down 0.71% in first half


JATO reports that the Western European passenger car market fell slightly in the first six months of 2005, by 0.71% to 7,941,285 units. However, the market continues to recover from falls earlier in the year. June registrations rose 2.49%, compared to June 2004, to 1,474,971 units.


The volume lower- and upper-medium segments showed solid, product-led growth in the first half of 2005, thanks particularly to the new Vauxhall/Opel Astra, Peugeot 407 and new Volkswagen Passat. The premium-compact lower medium segment performed particularly strongly, up 45.3% (79,392 units).

SUV sales were 11% higher than in the first six months of 2004. Supermini, the largest segment, lost volume (down 5.9%) and share (down 1.6%).

The market in Denmark grew 25% in the first half of the year, with Ireland, France, Portugal and Spain also recording significantly increased car sales. Austria, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg and Norway saw sales at a similar level to the first six months of last year. Switzerland, Hungary, Greece and Great Britain recorded declines of 5-10%, and The Netherlands and Belgium also recorded slight reductions in the size of their car markets. In Italy, where a four-week strike by transporter drivers held up deliveries last month, June sales were up 18% compared to June 2004, although the market there is 5.7% down overall year-to-date.


The names heading the brand league table in June were unchanged from May, although Fiat moved up one place in the ranking, to eighth. BMW (up 20.7%) and Toyota (up 14.8%) recorded significant sales increases compared to June 2004, while top-selling brands Renault (up 0.7%) and Volkswagen (up 1.3%) also performed strongly. Outside the top 10, Kia was the fastest-growing volume brand, with first-half sales up 62.3%. Several niche brands recorded high percentage increases; they included Cadillac, up 177%, Ssangyong, up 248% and Aston Martin, up 362%.

Volkswagen? Golf was Europe's best-selling car for the first half-year, with 268,784 units registered, ahead of the Opel/Vauxhall Astra whose 210,214 units were 50% up on the first half of 2004. Ford's Focus (229,377 units) and Peugeot's 206 (232,072 units) and 307 (202,220 units) completed the top five models over the first half. The top three all increased sales in June: Astra by 21%, Focus by 16.6% and Golf by 3.7%

SUVs were the fastest-growing segment of the market in the first half-year, with sales up 11% (49,817 units) to take 6.4% of the total market. Increasing antipathy to 4x4s from environmental groups is not slowing this sales growth, which was 14.9% higher in June, compared with June 2004.

Lower medium cars increased their share of the market by 2% with an increase of 7.8% (146,252 units) in first-half sales. Mini MPV sales grew by 2.4% (16,445 units) over first half of 2004 but year-on-year sales for June were down 1.7%.

First-half sales in the Mini segment were down 7% compared to 2004, although June registrations were up 6.42%. Fiat? Panda continues to lead the segment, with sales up 3.4% YTD and 12.1% in June. The Czech-built Peugeot 107, Citro? C1 and Toyota Aygo took a combined 9.1% share of June registrations in the segment as the PSA/Toyota small car joint venture increased its impact.

Superminis?share of the market slipped 1.6% in the first half of 2005 as registrations fell 5.9% (145,188 units) in spite of successful introductions such as Renault? Modus, which achieved over 100,000 sales to reach 9th place in the segment YTD. The segment performed more strongly in June, with sales down only 0.8% compared to June 2004.

The volume Lower Medium segment rose 3.9% in the first half and 6.6% in June. Segment leaders Volkswagen Golf, Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus all saw sales rise. New models doing well included Mercedes-Benz A-Class in 7th place, up 45.4%, and Kia Cerato, showing a 572% improvement on the combined sales of its Sephia/Mentor and Shuma predecessors in the first half.

First half sales in the fastest growing segment, Premium-compact lower medium, rose 45.3%. The segment leader, Audi? A3 increased sales by 28.6% in the first half, ahead of BMW? 1-Series. Toyota? Prius hybrid scored a notable fourth place, with sales up 169% YTD and up 254% in June.

The volume Upper medium segment continues its resurgence, with first half registrations up 2.7% and June sales up 8.4%. Segment sales account for 10% of the total car market; one percentage point ahead of Mini MPVs. Volkswagen Passat took the lead in June, with Peugeot? 407 leading over the first half.

BMW? new 3-Series took the lead in the Premium upper medium segment in June. Nevertheless, this segment saw sales fall 12.5% in the first half of 2005 despite several launches of new and improved models.

Executive car sales were down 2.84% in the first half, while the tentative recoveries in April and May slowed in June to a growth of only 0.57%. BMW 5-Series leads the segment from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and new Audi A6, which was up 32.9% YTD.

Luxury car registrations fell much more steeply in the first half, by 16.4% but June showed some signs of stabilisation, with only a 1.76% fall. Bentley Arnage sales rose 73.6% and Volkswagen Phaeton sales 25% in the first half. BMW 7-Series leads the segment.

Sales in the Mini MPV segment grew 2.7% in the first six months of 2005 but June registrations were down 1.68%. Renault Sc?ic/Grand Sc?ic led the segment in June. Fiat Multipla, up 145% YTD, and Volkswagen? new Caddy, up 217% YTD, showed strong growth.

Full-size MPV sales continued their steady decline, down 18.6% in the first six months. Renault Espace and Volkswagen Sharan led in the first six months.

Toyota? RAV4 maintained its lead in the buoyant SUV segment, where sales grew 11% in the first half of 2004, accelerating to 14.3% growth in June. Second-placed BMW X3 was up 96.2% in the first six months, with the new Hyundai Tucson, Nissan X-Trail, and Suzuki Vitara/Grand Vitara/XL-7 completing the top five.

After strong product-driven growth in 2003 and 2004, the Sports segment slowed during the first half of this year, recording only a 0.77% rise in registrations. June sales fell 1.30%. Aston Martin? DB9 performed well, outselling much more affordable models such as the Jaguar XK and Volvo C70.


- Source from Auto Industry (Jul 21, 2005) -