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Europe March 2018: Sales pulled down 5.2% by UK, best Q1 volume in 18 years

The Fiat 500 cracks the European Top 10 for the first time in two years.

* See the Top 25 best-selling brands, Top 25 models and Top 5 Hybrid, PHEV and EV models by clicking on the title *

March European volumes (27 countries excluding Russia and Turkey) are always heavily impacted by the UK new licence plates month that market alone represents 26% of European sales this month vs. just 10% over the first two months of the year. This way, the UK’s steep 15.7% fall pulls the entire European market into negative at -5.2% to 1.84 million units according to JATO Dynamics, with strong Eastern European sales reducing the damage. However sales are up 0.7% over the First Quarter to post the highest score since 2000 at 4.27 million registrations. Over Q1, Hungary (+29.9%), Croatia (+28.4%), Greece (+26.9%), Romania (+25.6%) and Lithuania (+17.3%) lodge the largest gains while once again the UK (-12.4%) signs the steepest decline above Norway (-11.3%), Ireland (-5.3%) and Denmark (-4.8%). Only 8 markets out of 28 are in negative in Q1.

JATO data for 18 markets shows gasoline cars accounting for 55% of total registrations in Q1 vs. 48% a year ago with diesel cars sinking from 46% over the same period in 2017 to 38% now. Alternative Fuelled Vehicles are up 23.4% to 5.4% share vs. 4.3% a year ago. The Toyota Yaris tops the Hybrid segment ahead of the C-HR, Auris, RAV4 and Kia Niro, the Mitsubishi Outlander is tops among PHEVs ahead of the VW Passat and VW Golf while the Renault Zoe edges past the Nissan Leaf in the EV ladder with the Tesla Model S at #5. SUVs once again surge at +13.3% in March and +20% over the First Quarter to 33.5% share vs. 28.1% over Q1 2017, meanwhile Subcompacts drop from 21.6% to 20.7%, Compacts fall from 19.4% to 18.4%, City-cars from 8.3% to 8.7% and Midsize cars from 7.9% to 7% and MPVs from 8.1% to 6.1%, one of its lowest levels in history in Europe.

The Toyota Yaris is up 8.4% in March and tops the Hybrid segment over Q1.

Volkswagen (+4.4%) goes against the trend to cement its domination in the brands ranking, with Ford reclaiming the 2nd place due to the high weight of the UK and despite a steep 14.2% drop. Renault (-6.6%) is back above Peugeot (+2.7%) both in March and YTD, despite the latter being one of only two Top 10 brands in positive. Opel/Vauxhall (-15.5%), Fiat (-14.9%), Audi (-10.4%) and BMW (-7%) all struggle in the remainder of the Top 10. There aren’t many good news further down the ranking: Dacia (+14.2%) and Seat (+11.1%) post the only double-digit gains in the Top 20 while below Jeep (+40.5%) and Mitsubishi (+24.7%) impress. A notch down, Honda (+6.5%), Skoda (+5.4%), Hyundai (+5.2%) and Kia (+4.5%) also post solid gain given the context.

Model-wise, the VW Golf celebrates 12 consecutive months in the European pole position with sales up a gigantic 17.2% year-on-year to its highest monthly volume in two years (since March 2016). Leader a year ago, the Ford Fiesta tumbles down 16.2% but still manages a 2nd spot ahead of the Renault Clio (-3.2%), Nissan Qashqai (-3%) and VW Polo (-19%) in grave difficulty despite the arrival of the new generation. Over Q1, the Nissan Qashqai (-0.1%) graduates to #4 overall: if kept until the end of 2018 this would be its highest ever European ranking. The Opel Corsa (-29%) and Ford Focus (-16.3%) post horrendous scores hampered by weak UK performances, while the Peugeot 208 (+3.1%) and Renault Captur (-0.7%) both resist very well.

Stunning performance of the VW Golf up 17.2% to its highest monthly volume in two years.

Mini event in the Top 10: the Fiat 500 makes a very rare appearance at #10 thanks to deliveries up 1.9% year-on-year. Counter-intuitively, the 500 manages its highest rankings in Europe not thanks to particularly strong results at home in Italy, but tends to do so during UK new license plate months as it is very successful in that market. As such, this is the first time in the past two years and only the 5th time ever this generation of Fiat 500 breaks into the European Top 10 after March 2014 (#10), June 2014 (#10), September 2014 (#9) and March 2016 (#10). Apart from the Golf, there are only two double-digit gainers  in the Top 25 models: the Peugeot 3008 (+29.9%) and Dacia Sandero (+11.5%), with the Toyota Yaris (+8.4%) also strong.

Previous post: Europe February 2018: Discover the Top 364 models and Top 54 brands

Previous month: Europe February 2018: Peugeot 3008 cracks Top 10, Citroen C3 up to #7

One year ago: Europe March 2017: Ford Fiesta ends VW Golf reign

Full March 2018 Top 25 brands, Top 25 models and Top 5 Hybrid, PHEV and EV models below.

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