However, the independent data from JATO Dynamics also shows first-quarter new car registrations in Europe as a whole rose by 3.4% compared with the same period in 2005, to a total volume of 4,178,088 units.
The largest market in the region in the first quarter was Germany, with total new car registrations of 797,147 units. The fastest-growing new car market was Latvia, where sales were up by 56% compared with the Q1 2005.
Diesels accounted for 244,845 new car sales in the UK in Q1, or 36.6% of the overall market. This was a rise of 3.5% compared with the first three months of 2005.
Diesel models' share of new car sales in Western and Eastern Europe in the first quarter of 2006 was 49%, which was an increase of 0.3% compared with the same period in 2005.
The top-selling model in the UK in the first quarter, with sales of 36,804 units, was the Ford Focus.
Strong sales of the Passat, Fox, Golf Plus and Jetta helped lift Volkswagen's sales by 17% compared with Q1 last year to make it the region's top-selling car brand, ahead of Opel/Vauxhall, Ford, Renault and Peugeot.
Other brands enjoying strong first-quarter sales included Fiat (up 25% due to strong sales of the new Grande Punto) and Mercedes, whose B-class, M-class and S-class sales led growth of 11%. Suzuki's new Swift and Grand Vitara led a 29.2% rise in the brand's Q1 sales. Saab sales rose by 28.0%, while Lexus sales rose 118% in Q1.
Table1: EU and EFTA top selling brands March and Q1 2006 and change vs. Q1 2005
|Make||Mar '06||Mar '06||Change||Make||Q1 '06||Q1 '05||Change Q1|
The UK's bi-annual registration-plate change helped the Ford Focus to the top of the EU and EFTA model table in Q1, with sales up 7.5% to 127,116 units across the region.
The Focus led the Fiat Punto (122,152 units, up 61%), Opel/Vauxhall Astra (118,202 units), Renault Clio (116,348 units, up 40%) and Fiesta (104,703 units, up 11%).
Table 2: EU and EFTA top selling models in March and Q1 2006 and change vs. Q1 2005
|Ford Focus||56,959||+7.6%||Ford Focus||127,116||+7.5%|
|Vauxhall/Opel Astra||55,386||-1.1%||Fiat Punto||122,152||+61.2%|
|Ford Fiesta||48,983||+9.7%||Vauxhall/Opel Astra||118,202||-4.3%|
|Fiat Punto||48,468||+64.9%||Renault Clio||116,348||+40.0%|
|Renault Clio||47,285||+34.6%||Ford Fiesta||104,703||+11.3%|
|Volkswagen Golf||44,360||-18.2%||Volkswagen Golf||104,481||-19.0%|
|Peugeot 206/206 SW||40,726||-25.6%||Peugeot 206/206 SW||100,676||-20.9%|
|Peugeot 307/307 SW||38,989||-3.2%||Peugeot 307/307 SW||97,371||-2.0%|
Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Belgium continued to record growth in their new car markets, with Estonia, Denmark, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands also recorded considerably increased markets.
The market in Poland again fell considerably, although the rate of the fall slowed.
The UK, Luxembourg, Portugal Greece and Switzerland saw slight reductions in new car sales.
While diesel-powered cars continued to hold a considerable share of the market in France, Austria, Portugal and Italy, that share has fallen slightly in recent months. Diesel's share of the market in Germany recovered slightly in March, but was lower over Q1 than in 2005.
Table 3: Confirmed new car registrations in the EU-EFTA area, March and Q1 2006
|Country||March||March change||Q1||Q1 change||Top selling model|
|Belgium||64,963||+25.2%||177,645||+20.0%||Peugeot 206/206 SW|
|Czech Republic||14,068||+3.8%||34,411||+3.8%||Skoda Fabia|
|Denmark||13,980||+12.6%||35,956||+12.5%||Peugeot 206/206 SW|
|Lithuania||1,167||+52.3%||2,990||+29.9%||Mitsubishi Pajero Sport|
|GRAND TOTAL||1,809,312||+4.3%||4,178,088||+3.4%||Ford Focus|