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Strong start to year for European luxury and city car sales

Luxury and city car sales benefited most from the 3% upturn in European new car registrations at the beginning of this year.

JATO Dynamics' analysis of registration data for Western and Eastern Europe shows that product-led growth lifted luxury car sales by 72% and city car sales by 29% in January 2006, compared with January 2005.

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with registrations up 200% compared January 2005, headed a rise of 2,223 units in the luxury segment, to 5,313 units.

The city car segment sales rose 18,124 to 80,437 units, helped by sales of around 6,000 each for the Citroen C1, Peugeot 107 and Toyota Aygo as well as an 8.8% sales increase for the segment leader, Fiat's Panda, compared with the previous January.

Overall, most market segments enjoyed sales increases in January, averaging 6%, but a 9.3% fall in registrations of Lower Medium segment cars (a decline of more than 25,000 units) was primarily responsible for holding overall market growth to 2.7%.

  • Click next page to view all the sales tables for this story. #AM_ART_SPLIT# EU and EFTA January 2006 new car registrations by segment

    Segment Jan '06 Jan '05 Change '06 Market Share Share Change
    City cars 80,437 62,313 +29.1% 6.4% +1.3%
    Small 386,079 369,165 +4.6% 30.5% +0.5%
    Lower medium - 250,015 275,641 -9.3% 19.8% -2.6%
    Lower medium + 43,984 41,135 +6.9% 3.5% +0.1%
    Upper medium - 140,786 128,676 +9.4% 11.1% +0.7%
    Upper medium + 63,309 66,162 -4.3% 5.0% -0.4%
    Executive 45,075 43,445 +3.8% 3.6% +0.0%
    Luxury 5,313 3,090 +71.9% 0.4% +0.2%
    Mini MPV 111,294 103,373 +7.7% 8.8% +0.4%
    MPV 27,788 25,477 +9.1% 2.2% +0.1%
    Sports 21,997 27,270 -19.3% 1.7% -0.5%
    SUV 87,990 84,585 +4.0% 7.0% +0.1%
    Total 1,264,067 1,230,332 +2.7% - -

    #AM_ART_SPLIT# Top Models

    The Top 10 saw some significant changes in January compared to the established pattern of previous months. Ford Focus sales rose by 8% (40,362 units) to give the Focus the number one position ahead of the new Fiat Punto, whose sales were 47% (38,619 units) higher than in January 2005.

    Renault Clio (up 33%) and Volkswagen Passat (up 114%) also enjoyed strong sales increases compared with their predecessors.

    EU and EFTA top selling models in January 2006 and change vs. January 2005

    Number Model Units Jan '06 % Change vs. Jan '05
    1 Ford Focus 40,362 +7.98%
    2 Fiat Punto 38,619 +64.8%
    3 Renault Clio 37,389 +32.8%
    4 Opel/Vauxhall Astra 33,587 -9.78%
    5 Ford Fiesta 32,631 +16.3%
    6 Volskwagen Passat 32,392 +114%
    7 Volskwagen Golf 32,207 -19.5%
    8 Peugeot 206/206/SW 31,272 -18.2%
    9 Peugeot 307/307 SW 30,059 -1.46%
    10 Opel/Vauxhall Corsa 21,360 -6.80%

    #AM_ART_SPLIT# Brand Performance

    Strong sales of Passat, Fox, Golf Plus and Jetta saw Volkswagen start 2006 as Western Europe's top-selling car brand, ahead of Ford (up 3.0%), Renault, Opel/Vauxhall and Peugeot. Fiat saw sales increase by 22.9% due to strong sales of the new Grande Punto.

    Outside the Top 10, Seat achieved a 21.0% increase thanks to the new Leon, and improved sales of Altea.

    Suzuki's performance was even more impressive, with the new Swift and Grand Vitara leading a 44.6% rise in sales. Saab sales rose by 27.5%. Manufacturers posting double-digit percentage rises also included Audi, BMW, Skoda, Mazda, Kia and Land Rover.

    EU and EFTA Top Selling Brands January 2006 and change vs. January 2005

    Make Units Jan '06 % Change vs. Jan '05
    1 Volkswagen 133,326 +26.2%
    2 Ford 110,206 +3.0%
    3 Renault 106,993 -19.8%
    4 Opel/Vauxhall 102,573 -3.4%
    5 Peugeot 91,763 -3.6%
    6 Citroen 81,479 -2.1%
    7 Fiat 80,770 +22.9%
    8 Toyota 65,949 -10.8%
    9 Mercedes 57,266 +2.5%
    10 Audi 50,831 +11.2%

    #AM_ART_SPLIT# Segment Summaries

    Utility/city cars: The segment started 2006 with renewed strength, with total volume up 29.1% on the same month in 2005. The Fiat Panda (up 8.8%) led the segment in January from the new Citroën C1, Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 107.

    Small: Registrations rose 4.6% in January, taking the segment's share of the new car market to 30.3%, up from 29.8% in January 2005. The Fiat Punto (up 64.8% on the introduction of the new Grande Punto) took the lead in January, ahead of the new Renault Clio (up 32.8%) and facelifted Ford Fiesta.

    Lower medium: The 9.3% fall in Lower Medium segment registrations compared with January 2005 counteracted growth in most other segments. The Ford Focus was the top seller in the segment and in the EU-EFTA area in January, ahead of the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf.

    Premium lower medium: This segment reversed the declining trend of recent months, with total sales 6.9% higher in January 2006 than in January 2005. The Audi A3 (up 9.7%) continued to lead the segment from the BMW 1-Series and Alfa-Romeo 147 (up 9.8%).

    Upper medium: Registrations in January were 9.4% higher than in the same month of 2005 - the majority coming from continuing strong sales of the segment leader, the Volkswagen Passat (up 114%). Peugeot's 407 took second place with the Skoda Octavia (up 22.0%) in third.

    Premium upper medium: This segment was one of the few sectors to show a decline in January. Sales were 4.3% lower than in January 2005. The two leading models saw increased sales, however. The new BMW 3-Series (up 64.3%) led from the Audi A4 (up 1.8%) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The new Lexus IS has improved on the sales of its predecessor, with January registrations 307% higher than a year ago.

    Large and executive: Despite continuing competition for sales from SUVs, Executive segment registrations rose 3.8% in January. Audi's A6 (up 47.8%) led from the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

    Luxury: Sales grew significantly for the fourth successive month. All leading models performed strongly amid overall growth of 71.9%, with the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class leading on a rise of 206% ahead of the Audi A8 (up 45.6%) and the BMW 7-Series (up 57%).

    Mini-MPV: The Renault Scénic/Grand Scénic maintained its strong lead of the segment, where sales increased by 7.7% in January. Sales of the new Opel/Vauxhall Zafira in second place were up 28.3%. Citroën's Xsara Picasso was third.

    Full size MPV: Another segment to see significant sales improvement, full-size MPVs saw sales rise 9.1%. The new Mazda5 led from the Renault Espace and Ford Galaxy. Van-based MPVs performed well in January. Sales of Volkswagen's Mulitvan/Shuttle/Eurovan/California increased by 83% and the Mercedes-Benz Vito and Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro also posted significant sales increases.

    SUV: Although the growth in SUV sales was less spectacular than in previous months, registrations grew by 4.0% with the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class (up 147%) taking the lead ahead of the Hyundai Tucson (up 44%) and new Suzuki Vitara/Grand Vitara/XL-7 (up 41%).

    Sports: There was no respite from the decline in the Sports segment volumes, with volumes down by 19.3% year-on-year. The Mercedes-Benz CLK led from its SLK stable- mate and the Porsche 911.

    Confirmed new car registrations in the EU-EFTA area, January 2006

    Country Units Jan '06 % Change vs. Jan '05 Top selling model
    Austria 23,448 +0.10% Volkswagen Passat
    Belgium 58,128 +14.07% Citroen C3
    Cyprus 1,923 +10.20% Ford Focus
    Czech Republic 9,723 +8.38% Skoda Fabia
    Denmark 11,177 +12.33% Toyota Avensis
    Estonia 1,886 +28.56% Ford Focus
    Finland 18,443 +1.51% Toyota Corolla
    France 168,589 +2.73% Renault Clio
    Germany 223,110 +10.81% Volkswagen Passat
    Great Britain 157,363 -13.29% Ford Focus
    Greece 29,785 -6.09% Toyota Corolla
    Hangary 12,034 +19.84% Suzuki Swift
    Ireland 43,106 +12.46% Ford Focus
    Italy 239,880 +10.64% Fiat Punto
    Latvia 1,351 +54.75% Toyota Corolla
    Lithuania 908 +15.96% Skoda Octavia
    Luxembourg 4,167 +9.86% Renault Clio
    Norway 7,458 +1.13% Volkswagen Passat
    Poland 18,556 -16.52% Skoda Fabia
    Portugal 15,629 -5.42% Opel Astra
    Slovakia 3,700 -3.22% Skoda Fabia
    Slovenia 5,282 -7.15% Renault Clio
    Spain 113,463 -0.15% Ford Focus
    Sweden 17,128 +3.51% Volvo V70/XC70
    Switzerland 17,887 +9.51% Volkswagen Golf
    Holland 69,234 -2.41% Volkswagen Passat
    TOTAL 1,273,358 +2.82%

    (NB: All percentage figures given are for the period vs the same period in the previous year unless otherwise stated. For instance "sales rose 3.7% in January" refers to a rise of 3.7% in January 2006 compared to sales during January 2005.

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