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Europe Full Year 2017: VW Golf celebrates 10 consecutive years at #1, market scores largest volume since 2007

The VW Golf has been the best-seller in Europe for 30 of the past 35 years. 

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 10 groups, Top 55 brands and Top 410 models *

Consult 45 years of European Historical Data here

The European market – 28 countries excluding Russia and Turkey – is up 3% year-on-year in 2017 to 15.515.693 units, its highest score since 2007 (16.02m). This is a significant slowdown compared to +9.3% in 2015 and +6.5% in 2016. The culprit: the UK market, down 5.7% on Brexit and diesel tax uncertainties and the only Top 5 country in negative in 2017. Spain (+7.6%) posts its best year since 2007, Italy (+7.5%) and Germany (+2.7%) their largest since 2009 and France (+4.7%) it biggest volume since 2011. Countries posting double-digit year-on-year gains for 2017 are Lithuania (+27.4%), Hungary (+20.4%), Croatia (+15.1%), Poland (+14%), Greece (+11.7%), Estonia (+11.4%), Slovenia (+11.3%) and Romania (+10.7%). Alongside the UK, a total of five markets are in negative this year (vs. just two in 2016): Ireland (-10.4%),  Switzerland (-1%)Denmark (-0.5%) and Finland (-0.5%).

The Ford Fiesta ended 83 consecutive month of VW Golf reign in March but drops 14.9% in 2017.

There are a couple of mega-trends at play in Europe in 2017, the most striking one being the continued decline of diesel sales, down 7.9% to 6.76 million units and representing 43.4% of the total market vs. 48.5% a year ago, the lowest diesel share in a decade. They were overtaken this year – as illustrated in most large European markets – by petrol sales up 10.9% to 8.07m units or 51.8% share vs. 48.1% in 2016. Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFVs) shoot up 46.1% to a record 747.400 units. Already a few years old, the SUV trend shows no sign of abating as more and more manufacturers complete their lineup in the segment with high potential vehicles. Accordingly, SUV sales are up a stunning 19.5% in 2017 to 4.56m units vs. 3.81m a year ago, seeing its market share lift from 25.2% to 29.3%. Keep in mind this share was just 8.5% ten years ago in 2007. For reference, Subcompacts are up 1% to 3.24m units, Compacts are down 3.3% to 3.02m, Midsize cars are down 7.4% to 1.24m, City cars down 1.4% to 1.22m, MPVs down 15.1% to 1.21m, Executive cars up 13% to 423.000, Sport cars down 3.7% to 115.000 and Luxury cars up 12% to 46.000.

The Nissan Qashqai is the first SUV and Japanese model to crack the annual European Top 5. 

Group-wise, the Volkswagen Group remains dominant but trails the market slightly with a 1.9% increase to 3.685 million sales, leading to a market share dropping 0.2 point to 23.8%. The PSA Group sees the strong performance of Peugeot being cancelled out by poor sales at Opel and gains just 0.7% to see its share recede to 15.9%. The Renault-Nissan Alliance on the contrary outpaces the European market at +4.5% and sees its share progress to 14.8%. FCA (+4.7%) overtakes Ford Motor (-1.2%) and returns above 1 million annual European sales in 4th place. It is the only position change in the Top 10, with Daimler AG (+6.2%) charging ahead of Hyundai-Kia (+4.8%), the BMW Group (+0.6%), Toyota Motor up a splendid 12.4% and the Geely Group up 3.7%. Just outside the Top 10, Tata Motors (+0.6%) gets knocked down by Suzuki (+20.6%).

The Dacia Sandero is #1 with private buyers and cracked both the overall Top 10 and Top 5 this year.

In the brands ranking, VW remains the most popular on the continent by far but once again under-performs at -1.1% to 1.69m units. In 2nd place, Renault gains 3.8% to 1.14m followed by Ford down 1.2% to 1.05m and Opel down 4.9% to .94m while Peugeot, up a strong 6.8%, rounds up a Top 5 unchanged on 2016. Like last year, Mercedes is the best-selling premium brand in Europe, widening the gap with its two main German competitors thanks to a splendid 7.6% year-on-year gain, the largest in the Top 10. Premium leader in Europe for 5 consecutive years between 2011 and 2015, Audi (-0.7%) drops one further rank in 2017 to #3 below BMW (+0.6%). Suzuki (+20.6%), Seat (+14.4%), Toyota (+13.2%) and Dacia (+11.1%) are the only other Top 25 manufacturers with double-digit gains. Below, Geely (+202.5%), Bugatti (+100%), Chrysler (+84.8%), Tesla (+74.3%), Aston Martin (+64.5%), Chevrolet (+41.5%), Lada (+31.7%), Alfa Romeo (+29.8%), Cadillac (+22%) and Maserati (+21.7%) shine.

The Peugeot 3008 is the most improved nameplate for 2017. 

Over in the models ranking, the VW Golf celebrates 10 consecutive years in pole position – the last time it did not rank #1 was in 2007 when the Peugeot 208 won – and a total of 30 years at #1 in the past 35, starting in 1983. Despite deliveries down 1.6%, the Golf still has a very comfortable 157.000 sales advantage over the #2, the Renault Clio up 5.2%. 63% of the Golf’s 2017 European sales occurred in just two markets: Germany and the UK where it broke its volume and ranking record (#2). The Golf’s streak of consecutive #1 months ended at 83 in March when the Ford Fiesta led the charts, taking advantage of record UK sales, meaning the Golf has now ranked #1 in Europe for 98 of the past 100 months, its only other non-#1 month being March 2010 (Fiesta again). Paradoxically, it’s a paltry year for the Ford Fiesta down 15% and stuck in 4th place below the VW Polo, also hit hard at -11%. A perfect illustration of the SUV boom, the Nissan Qashqai is up 6.2% and three spots to become the first SUV to break into the annual European Top 5 and the first Japanese nameplate to do so. The Qashqai peaked at #2 in September when it led the UK market.

The VW Tiguan soars 32.6% to a record 7th place overall in 2017. 

However the VW Tiguan isn’t far behind: the German SUV soars 32.6% and 11 spots to a record 7th place, ending 2017 just 11.000 units below the Qashqai. Menacingly, the Tiguan outsold the Qashqai 6 times this year, including the last three months of the year, and peaked at a record 4th place in both April and August. The Renault Captur gets bumped from #10 to #12 despite breaking into the Top 5 for the first time in June and onto the podium in December while the Citroen C3 benefits fully from the new generation, up 53.9% and 20 spots to #13 and peaking at a record-breaking #9 in April. Up 16.3% and 7 spots to #15, the Dacia Sandero broke into the European monthly Top 10 for the first time in May at #10, lifted that record to #7 in July and broke into the Top 5 in August at #5. But the Sandero’s most impressive feat in 2017 is becoming the best-selling vehicle outright with private buyers.

The Toyota C-HR ends its first full year in market inside the European Top 50.

The Peugeot 3008 is propelled up 125.8% and 42 ranks by the new model to #23, peaking at #12 in November., the Ford Kuga is up 27.5% and 10 spots to #28 and the Dacia Duster is up just 4.2% and one rank to #29 but surprisingly broke into the monthly Top 10 for the first time in December at #9, making it two Dacias doing so this year – and ever. The Fiat Tipo (+105.9%), Mercedes GLC (+54.9%), BMW 5 Series (+35.4%), Renault Scenic (+31.6%), Mercedes E-Class (+28.9%) and BMW X1 (+23.4%) post the largest year-on-year gains in the remainder of the Top 50 while the Toyota C-HR misses the title of mist popular newcomer for 2017 as it launched in October 2016 but lands at a shiny #46 for its first full year in market followed the the Audi Q2 at #60 and the Seat Ateca at #67. The Opel Crossland X isn’t technically an all-new launch either (13 sales in 2016) but almost, and lands at #115, with the Citroen C3 Aircross (#174) and Alfa Romeo Stelvio (#175) the only “pure” new 2017 launches in the Top 200.

Previous month: Europe November 2017: Discover the Top 350 models and Top 55 brands

Previous year (prel): Europe Full Year 2016: VW flat, Renault up in highest market in 9 years

Previous year (final): Europe Full Year 2016: Discover the Top 385 models and Top 60 brands

Two years ago (prel): Europe Full Year 2015: Market up a snappy 9% to 14.2 million units

Two years ago (final): Europe Full Year 2015: Discover the Top 355 models and Top 63 brands

Full Year 2017 Top 10 groups, Top 55 brands and Top 410 models vs. Full Year 2016 figures below.

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