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New car sales in Europe deliver a second consecutive year of growth, ending 2015 up 9.3% or 1.2 million sales to 14.201.072 units, the highest annual result since 2009. The trend is accelerating, with the last two months of the year both displaying double-digit gains – December showing the largest year-on-year increase in 3 years at +16%, Q4 sales up 10% and displaying a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of 16.52 million units, equivalent to the heyday of pre-recession 2007 levels. 27 of the 29 markets analysed posted a year-on-year gain in 2015, with Estonia (-0.5%) and Luxembourg (-7%) the only decreasing markets. The biggest volume gains came from Italy and Spain, together adding almost 400,000 units to the European year’s total. Spain was at its highest since 2008, Germany – where the Golf celebrated 40 years in pole position – at its highest since 2009, Italy and France at their highest since 2011 and the UK at an all-time high of 2.63 million units (+6%).
Volkswagen remains by far the most popular brand in Europe but with sales up just 7% to 1.72 million, its market share declines slightly to 12.1%. The German manufacturer manages to mitigate the impact of “dieselgate” with strong Passat sales (see further down) as well as unrelenting support at home in Germany. Ford is up 8% to 1.04 million and 7.3% share, Renault (+11%) overtakes Opel/Vauxhall to round up the podium with 974.000 units and 6.9% while Peugeot remains 5th with 6% of the market. Audi is once again the best-selling luxury brand on the continent, but the gap with its competitors has reduced drastically due to sales up just 6% to 766.504. BMW (+11%) is now only 20.000 units below vs. 49.000 a year ago and Mercedes (+13%) is 24.600 behind vs. 64.600 in 2014. Audi desperately needs the all-new A4 to be a hit to keep its crown in 2016…
With sales up 3% to 533.584, the VW Golf is the best-selling nameplate in Europe for the 8th consecutive year and the 28th time in the past 33 years starting in 1983 with sales up 11% to 520,958 – its best score since 2009. The Golf ranked first each and every month of 2015, extending a stretch of 69 consecutive months in the European pole position – almost six years: the last time it did not rank #1 in Europe was in March 2010. The Golf has now held the #1 spot during 95 out of the past 100 months. The Top 6 best-sellers are unchanged compared to a year ago and all lose market share, with the Ford Fiesta (+2%), Renault Clio (+1), VW Polo (+8%), Opel Corsa (+7%) and Ford Focus (+6%) all gaining less ground than the market.
The Nissan Qashqai takes full advantage of its new generation to lift sales up 14% and land at a best-ever 7th place, the highest annual ranking ever reached by a Japanese model in Europe and cementing its place as the #1 SUV on the continent. The VW Passat is the hero of the 2015 Top 10 with sales up a gigantic 49% thanks to the new model to shoot up to #9, surging to #4 in August, an all-time record European ranking for the 42 year-old nameplate, beating its previous best of #5 reached in December 2005, April 2011 and July 2015. The Skoda Octavia is knocked down one spot but delivers its 2nd consecutive (and ever) European Top 10 ranking, equalling its best-ever monthly ranking at #5 in August – also reached in October and November 2013.
The Peugeot 308, boosted by an exceptional December result (#3), stops 3.000 units short off a historical Top 10 ranking with sales up 32% to 214.907. Notice also the Renault Captur up 18% to #14 and posting two monthly Top 10 rankings (June and December) like in 2014, the Mercedes C-Class up 27% to #17, the Opel Mokka up 28% to #19 and the Skoda Fabia up 39% to #20, pointing its bonnet inside the Top 10 in August for the 2nd time ever, making it two Skodas in the Top 10 (with the Octavia) for the first time in history. Finally, the Toyota Yaris (#15) broke its monthly European ranking record in September, lifting it to #9.
Previous year (Top 10): Europe Full Year 2014: Sales up for the first time in 7 years
Previous year (complete): Europe Full Year 2014: Discover the Top 360 All-models and All-brands
Two years ago (Top 10): Europe Full Year 2013: Renault Clio on podium for first time in 7 years
Two years ago (complete): Europe Full Year 2013: Discover the Top 353 models and all brands
Full Year 2015 Top 20 brands and models vs. Full 2014 figures below.