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Europe Full Year 2014: Sales up for the first time in 7 years Volkswagen Golf leads, Skoda Octavia & Audi A3 break into Top 10

Skoda Octavia Europe 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frFirst annual Top 10 ranking in Europe for the Skoda Octavia…

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Finally! After 7 consecutive years of decline, new car sales in Europe are back into positive territory in 2014 at +5% to 12.995.397 registrations, topping off a full 12 months of year-on-year gains. The Top 5 largest markets are all up year-on-year: Germany (+3%), UK (+9%), France (+0.3%), Italy (+4%) and Spain (+20%) and 24 out of 29 markets are in positive. We are still far from the heydays of 16-17 million sales but at least the market has bottomed out and looks set to continue to increase, albeit discreetly, in 2015. The world has changed since the last time the European new car market was growing: with a predicted 25 million units in 2015, the Chinese will soon weight twice that of Europe… Read also my 2013 analysis STRATEGY: Europe: Will the new car market ever grow again?

Audi S3…and also for the Audi A3.

All Top 10 manufacturers progress year-on-year, with Volkswagen leading the pack by far at 1.61 million sales (+4%) followed by Ford at 0.96 million (+4%). Opel/Vauxhall, now rid of Chevrolet, improves by 7% while the Top 2 French manufacturers, Renault (+9%) and Peugeot (+6%), both outperform the market. The three premium Germans slow down their growth to all evolve roughly like the market and keep their position: Audi is up 4%, BMW up 5% and Mercedes up 6%. Citroen (+1%) and Fiat (+2%) underperform and were both outsold by Skoda (#11 at +13%) during the last months of the year. One of the two, more likely Citroen as Fiat will benefit from the arrival of the 500X, will disappear from Europe’s Top 10 in 2015.

VW Golf Europe 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe VW Golf extends a stretch of 57 consecutive months at #1 in Europe.

In the models ranking, the VW Golf is crowned for the 7th consecutive year and the 27th time in the past 32 years starting in 1983 with sales up 11% to 520,958 – its best annual tally since 2009. The Golf was never outsold this year, extending a stretch of 57 consecutive months in the European pole position: the last time it did not rank #1 in Europe is March 2010. The Golf has now held the #1 spot during 85 out of the past 100 months, and managed to double the sales of the #2 model for the first time ever in August. The Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, VW Polo and Opel Corsa follow, all holding onto their 2013 ranking and all growing exactly like the market at +5%. The Ford Focus at #6 and Peugeot 208 at #7 are the only two nameplates in the Top 10 to lose ground vs. 2013.

RENAULT CAPTUR 1.5 dCi 90chThe Renault Captur broke into the monthly Top 10 for the first time in June.

In sync with their record rankings in Germany this year, both the Skoda Octavia (#8, then corrected to #9) and Audi A3 (#10) lodge their first-ever annual European Top 10 ranking in 2014. Both nameplates are now regulars in the monthly Top 10 and these achievements are the fruit of a steady sales progression throughout the years. The Skoda Octavia finishes the year up 22% to 206,362 units, ranking inside the monthly Top 10 nine times out of 12, and even though it didn’t beat its #5 monthly ranking record from October-November 2013, it did rank #6 five times this year. A testimony to the Octavia’s new generation sales surge over the past couple of years: it ranked inside the monthly European Top 10 only once between 1996 and 2012, 4 times in 2013 and 9 times in 2014.

Fiat 500 Europe 2014. Picture courtesy of…as did the Fiat 500 in March.

The Audi A3 is following a very similar trajectory: not a single Top 10 ranking between 1996 and 2012, 3 times in 2013 and 9 times in 2014, peaking at a best-ever #6 in May (also reached in August 2013) and ranking #8 for four consecutive months between August and November. The A3 finishes the year up 19% to 200,157 units at #10 overall. The Octavia and A3 replace the Opel Astra and BMW 3 Series in the European Top 10 this year.

Peugeot 308 SW vs VW Golf SWThe Peugeot 308 should be inside the annual Europe Top 10 in 2015.

Two models broke into the monthly European Top 10 for the very first time in 2014: the Renault Captur did so flamboyantly in June when it hit #7 and again in December (#9) while the 7-year-old Fiat 500, pushed by record UK sales, pointed its retro bonnet at #10 in March (record volume at 21,990 units) and again in June and September. The new generation Peugeot 308 for its part broke the nameplate’s European ranking record twice, lifting it to#9 in November and #8 in December. Just below, the VW Tiguan hit a best-ever #12 in April and could be in for a monthly Top 10 ranking when the new generation arrives.

Previous post: Europe December 2014: Peugeot 308 breaks ranking record again

One year ago (Top 10): Europe Full Year 2013: Renault Clio on podium for first time in 7 years

One year ago (complete): Europe Full Year 2013: Discover the Top 353 models and all brands

Two years ago: Europe Full Year 2012: Nissan Qashqai in Top 10 for the first time

Full Year 2014 Top 10 models and brands Rankings vs. Full 2013 figures below.

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