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UK new car sales down

UK new car sales have fallen by 4.5% in the first quarter of 2006.

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
Volkswagen 175,612 154,903 +13.4% Volkswagen 418,531 355,564 +17.7
Vauxhall/Opel 168,852 170,136 -0.8% Vauxhall/Opel 360,345 369,859 -2.6%
Ford 164,013 163,805 +0.1% Ford 357,265 355,847 +0.4%
Renault 147,225 158,301 -7.0% Renault 352,982 398,748 -11.5%
Peugeot 125,901 126,715 -0.6% Peugeot 306,061 307,429 -0.4%
Citroen 101,704 99,528 +2.2% Citroen 257,931 258,759 -0.3%
Toyota 99,380 93,078 +6.8% Toyota 251,364 201,628 +24.7%
Fiat 98,342 76,326 +28.8% Fiat 223,968 223,344 +0.3%
Mercedes 82,920 70,363 +17.8% Mercedes 185,127 166,715 +11.0%
BMW 80,373 71,544 +12.3% BMW 175,173 158,927 +10.2%

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

Model Mar '06 Change Model Q1 Change
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
Austria 35,046 +7.7% 77,999 +4.6% Volkswagen Golf
Belgium 64,963 +25.2% 177,645 +20.0% Peugeot 206/206 SW
Cyprus 1,718 +14.5% 4,884 +4.6% Ford Focus
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
Estonia 1,807 +6.5% 5,230 +19.9% Toyota Corolla
Finland 13,747 +6.6% 43,796 +3.7% Toyota Corolla
France 197,376 -2.5% 526,502 +0.1% Renault Clio
Germany 358,073 +7.8% 797,147 +6.1% Volkswagen Golf
UK 435,847 -1.6% 669,206 -4.6% Ford Focus
Greece 25,044 -1.6% 75,954 -2.2% Toyota Corolla
Hungary 17,408 +0.2% 42,795 +8.1% Suzuki Swift
Iceland 2,172 +91.9% 5,334 +50.8% Toyota Landcruiser
Ireland 26,190 +6.1% 94,683 +8.0% Ford Focus
Italy 252,839 +8.6% 705,481 +8.6% Fiat Punto
Latvia 1,850 +70.0% 4,566 +55.9% Toyota Corolla
Lithuania 1,167 +52.3% 2,990 +29.9% Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
Luxembourg 5,832 -1.7% 14,222 -2.7% Renault Clio
Norway 9,819 +3.4% 24,622 -2.3% Volkswagen Passat
Poland 21,658 -9.5% 58,279 -11.7% Skoda Fabia
Portugal 20,893 -1.1% 51,964 -2.3% Renault Clio
Slovakia 5,240 +0.7% 12,755 -3.1% Skoda Fabia
Slovenia 6,144 +5.2% 16,611 +0.6% Renault Clio
Spain 173,796 +8.8% 412,989 +3.0% Ford Focus
Sweden 25,560 +6.8% 61,256 +2.9% Volvo V70/XC70
Switzerland 26,220 -3.2% 60,910 -0.7% Volkswagen Golf
Holland 50,855 +11.6% 159,901 +6.1% Opel Astra
GRAND TOTAL 1,809,312 +4.3% 4,178,088 +3.4% Ford Focus

  • 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 March" refers to a rise of 3.7% in March 2006 compared to sales during March 2005.
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