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Europe Full Year 2019: Last minute tax-related sales rush edges market up 1.1% to highest in 12 years

The new T-Cross helps Volkswagen outpace the European market at +1.7%.

Discover 50 years of European Historical Data here.

19/02 update: Now with Top 55 brands, Top 415 models and Top 10 electrified models.

According to data shared with you by our European partner JATO Dynamics, new car sales in Europe edge up 1.1% to 15.757.412 units, the highest annual volume since 2007 (16.02m). This is solely thanks to a last-minute 21.4% surge in December (1.261.742) spurred by stricter EU emissions rules taking effect on January 2020 and resulting in the largest European December volume ever. Indeed as of end November, European sales were actually down -0.4%. December sales were up 27.7% in France, 19.5% in Germany, 12.5% in Italy, 6.6% in Spain and 3.4% in the UK, but also 113.9% in the Netherlands ahead of an increase from 4 to 8% in the tax rate for electric company cars and 109.3% in Sweden on a change in emissions-based taxes. After the spectacular sales waves triggered by the new WLTP emissions standards in 2018, this shows once again how volatile the European market has become as governments push policies aimed at lowering carbon emissions. Poland (+4.4%), Denmark (+3.3%), Slovakia (+3.5%) and Luxembourg (+4.2%) all post all-time record annual volumes in 2019, while Germany (+5%), Romania (+22.9%), Hungary (+15.4%) and Croatia (+5.2%) reach decade-highs.

2019 is the year Tesla became mainstream in Europe (#27). 

Electrified vehicles soar 35% to 1.277.908 units, accounting for a record 8.1% of the total European market for the year. Among these, Hybrids (HEV) are up 28% to 715.600, BEVs are up 35% to 356.300 and PHEVs up 14% to 204.500. Petrol sales edge up 5% to 9.27m and 59% share and diesel registrations sink -12% to 4.93m and 31% share. In terms of segments, SUVs continue to power ahead, scoring a spectacular 7th consecutive year of double-digit gains in 2019 at +12% to 6.030.481 and a record 38.3% share vs. 34.7% in 2018. SUVs now outsell hatchbacks and sedans outsell MPVs. In the groups ranking, ACEA data shows up the VW Group (+3.3%) posting the largest gain in the Top 5, hitting 3.87m units over the continent. The PSA Group (-1.3%) edges down to 2.47m while Renault-Nissan (-3.6%) fares the worst at 2.20m. Hyundai-Kia advances 2.8% to 1.07m just above the BMW Group (+1.4%) at 1.05m, keeping the Top 5 identical to 2018. Below, Daimler AG (+4.8%) is the most dynamic in the Top 8 and is up 2 spots on last year to #6, exchanging positions with FCA (-7.3%) in dire straits. Ford Motor (-1.5%) remains at #7 while Toyota Motor (+4.8%) and the Geely Group/Volvo (+6.8%) score excellent upticks but remain at the tail end of the Top 10.

Seat deliveries gain 10.1% across Europe in 2019.

The 2019 European brands ranking shows an unchanged Top 5 leaderboard with Volkswagen (+1.7%) the only one in positive thanks solely to a December surge (+12.7%), adding up to 1.77m units. Renault (-3.3%) is in difficulty but remains #2 at 1.06m, with Ford (-1.5%) and Peugeot (+0.8%) in tow but both slightly underperforming. Mercedes (+3.8%) and BMW (+2%) on the other hand show market-beating gains, the latter overstepping past Opel/Vauxhall (-7.2%), as do Skoda (+5.2%), Audi (+2.9%) and Toyota (+4%) in the remainder of the Top 10. Soaring brands are more frequent in the Top 20 and include Dacia (+10.3%), Seat (+10.1%), Mazda (+9.6%), Suzuki (+7.2%), Citroen (+6.6%) and Volvo (+5.9%) whereas Nissan (-20.2%) and Fiat (-13%) both implode. Tesla (+279.5%) is one of the heroes of the year, advancing 7 spots to #27 with MG (+55.4%), Lancia (+21%), Lexus (+20.4%), Smart (+15.7%), Porsche (+12.8%) and DS (+9.9%) also shining. Among brands under 0.1% share, DR Motor (+161.7%), Alpine (+127.1%), Bugatti (+50%), Lamborgini (+32.5%) and Rolls Royce (+18.3%) stand out.

Dacia sales leap up 10.3% to a new record in 2019.

In the models ranking, the VW Golf (-7.6%) aligns a 12th straight winning year and a total of 32 wins in the past 37 (a series that started in 1983), but it endures a fourth consecutive drop and most strikingly falls to its weakest European annual volume in at least 35 years. In fact at BSCB we don’t have any record of the Golf selling less than its 2019 tally all the way back to 1984, and we don’t have annual volumes before that, so it could actually be longer. Showing how fragmented the European market has become, this doesn’t prevent the Golf from securing a 91.194-unit advantage over the #2, the Renault Clio (-4.4%). The VW Tiguan (+4.6%) climbs up two spots to become the first SUV to ever rank inside the European podium at #3, partly thanks to the success of its 7-seat AllSpace variant accounting for 15% of its 2019 volume. The new upmarket generations of the VW Polo (-14.1%) and Ford Fiesta (-15.6%) have failed to garner momentum and already dive for their 2nd year in market. Renewed during the year, the Peugeot 208 (-1.9%) lifts one spot to #6 only 4 sales above the Dacia Sandero (+4.3%) which scores its first ever Top 10 finish at #7. The Renault Captur (+5%) helped by discounts on the outgoing generation is up 4 spots to its second ever Top 10 (after #10 in 2016) at a record #8. Only 1.243 units separate the #6 from the #10, with the Ford Focus (+14.4%) and Skoda Octavia (+1.4%) closing out the Top 10. The Dacia Duster (+22.3%) is up 5 ranks to #12, the VW T-Roc (+45.7%) up 12 to #16 and the Mercedes A-Class (+28.1%) up 6 to #17, while among recent launches the Toyota Corolla (+726.1%) soars to #29, the VW T-Cross lands at #49, the Tesla Model 3 at #52, the Citroen C5 Aircross (+4537.7%) is up to #69 and the Peugeot Rifter (+489.9%) up to #102.

Previous month: Europe November 2019: VW Group (+13.4%) pulls market up 4.5%

Previous year: Europe 2018: WLTP transition freezes sales, VW, Peugeot, Dacia and Jeep shine, VW Golf #1, Tiguan #5

Two years ago: Europe 2017: VW Golf celebrates 10 straight years at #1 in largest market since 2007

Full Year 2019 Top 10 groups, Top 55 brands, Top 415 models and Top 10 electrified models vs. Full Year 2018 figures below.

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