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Europe First Half 2017: Best result in a decade but growth slows to 4.2%

The VW Golf remains the most popular vehicle in Europe but drops 11.6% on 2016.

* See the Top 10 groups, Top 58 brands and Top 390 models by clicking on the title *

The European new car market (27 countries) gains 4.2% year-on-year over the First Half of 2017 to 8.356.704 units, that’s an additional 336.000 vehicles compared to the same period a year ago. This growth, although superior to the two other large markets in the world (China is up 1.6% and the U.S. down 2.1%), is a clear slowdown compared to the +9.1% it sported at the same time last year. This H1 2017 result is the best since 2007, meaning the European market has returned to its pre-crisis level, and may stabilise around this level from now onto the next couple of years.

Up 6%, the Renault Clio consolidates its 2nd place in the European sales charts. 

Among the top five markets on the continent, Germany (+3.1%) and France (+2.6%) trail the overall growth and are showing signs of levelling up, the UK is down 1.3% amidst Brexit uncertainty, and it’s mainly Italy (+8%) and Spain (+7.1%) lifting the overall result. The largest gains are the work of smaller Eastern European markets such as Romania (+27%), Croatia (+24.3%), Lithuania (+19.7%), Hungary (+19%), Poland (+17.7%), Estonia (+13.5%), Slovenia (+11.6%) and Slovakia (+11%). The Netherlands (+16.2%) is the only Western European market to post a double-digit gain over the period.

The Nissan Qashqai ranks at a highest-ever #6 in Europe.

As it is the case in China and the U.S., the engine of growth of the European market so far in 2017 is the SUV segment, up a whopping 19.7% year-on-year to 2.386.178 units and now representing a dominant 28.3% share vs. 24.7% a year ago. Small cars are up 5% to 1.813.941 units and 21.5% share but compact cars are down 1.3% to 1.605.337 and 19% share vs. 20.1% a year ago. MPVs see the harshest decline at -14.8% to 689.288 and 8.2% share vs. 10% in H1 2016, mini cars are down 1.7% to 678.301 and large cars down 6.2% to 662.784. Another striking evolution in the European market over the period is the weakness of diesel sales, falling to 46.3% share, the first time since 2009 that diesels cars are outsold by gasoline cars.

The VW Tiguan is headed towards its first ever annual Top 10 ranking in Europe. 

The Volkswagen Group remains dominant but trails the market growth at +2.5% to 1.95 million units, as does PSA-Opel edging up just 0.2% to 1.36m. Renault-Nissan/Mitsubishi on the other hand improves its share of the European market with a 5.5% up on H1 2016 to 1.24m sales. FCA does even better at +10.1% to .6m units., overtaking Ford Motor (+2.5%). The BMW Group (+2.1%) is getting caught up by Daimler AG (+8.6%) just as Hyundai-Kia follows the market at +4.5%. Rounding up the Top 10, both Toyota Motor (+14.8%) and Geely/Volvo (+7.2%) frankly beat the market.

The new Citroen C3 has lifted the nameplate’s European monthly ranking record to #9.

Brand-wise, Volkswagen goes against the grain and posts a 0.2% decline to just under 900.000 units whereas the next two best-sellers are gain ground: Renault gains share thanks to a 4.9% up while Ford is more discreet at +2.5% but Opel/Vauxhall drops 2.7% in 4th place. Peugeot remains in 5th place with a 4% gain in line with the market. In 6th place overall, Mercedes (+10.8%) confirms it is the new premium king of Europe while Audi drops 0.7% and BMW edges up just 2% at #9. Fiat (+10.2%) and Toyota (+15.8%) are the only other manufacturers managing a double-digit gain inside the Top 10. Further down, only Seat (+16.8%) and Suzuki (+22.9%) do the same, with Dacia just missing out at +9.4%. AlfaRomeo (+39.4%), Jaguar (+24.3%), Tesla (+78%), Abarth (+39.9%), Maserati (+66.2%) and Aston Martin (+92.2%) are among the most dynamic smaller brands.

The Dacia Sandero delivered its first ever monthly Top 10 ranking in Europe in May.

In the models ranking, despite a steep 11.6% drop, the VW Golf is headed towards a 10th consecutive year atop the European sales charts. The Ford Fiesta ended 83 consecutive months of VW Golf reign in March but that was due to an exceptionally high UK market and the Fiesta is in fact down 1.5% over the period in 4th place. The Renault Clio (+6%) and VW Polo (+2.8%) hold onto the 2nd and 3rd spots, and with the Opel Corsa (-6.3%) at #5, there are four small cars in the European Top 5. The Nissan Qashqai is up a very robust 8.4% to gain two spots to 6th place overall, if maintained until the end of the year – very possible given its recent facelift – it would be its highest ever annual ranking in Europe (previous best: #7 in 2015), the highest annual ranking for an SUV in Europe and also the highest ranking for a Japanese model in Europe. So many records at stake! The Opel Astra is up 3.2% and remains 7th while the Peugeot 208 drops 4.5% and two spots to #8.

The Toyota C-HR is the best-selling new launch in Europe at #42. 

After breaking into the monthly Top 10 for the first time in August 2017 (#6) and the Top 5 in January 2017, the Tiguan lifted its monthly European ranking record to a stunning #4 in April. As a result, for the first time in a half-year ranking, the Tiguan is inside the Top 10 at #9 thanks to sales up 74.6% with the new generation. Also boosted by a new model, the Citroen C3 is up 62.1% to #12 and broke the nameplate’s monthly record at #9 in April. Another star of the period is the Dacia Sandero, up 14.4% to #17 but inside the European Top 10 for the first time in May. The Mercedes C-Class (+10.5%), Renault Megane (+32.6%), Peugeot 3008 (+144.3%), Ford Kiuga (+24.2%), Fiat Tipo (+246.7%), Mercedes E-Class (+36.7%), BMW X1 (+29.3%) and Volvo XC60 (+34.7%) also impress in the Top 50 thanks to new models or facelifts. The Toyota C-HR (#42) is the most popular newcomer over the period, ahead of the Audi Q2 (#63), Ford Ka+ (#103), Suzuki Ignis (#110) and Skoda Kodiaq (#120). The new Opel Crossland X (#208 but #113 in June) should settle inside the Top 100 before the end of the year.

Previous post: Europe June 2017: First Top 5 ranking for the Renault Captur

One year ago (1): Europe First Half 2016: Discover the Top 375 models and Top 56 brands

One year ago (2): Europe First Half 2016: Volkswagen down to lowest share in 6 years

Full H1 2017 Top 10 groups, Top 58 brands and Top 390 models vs. Full H1 2016 figures below.

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