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European new car market grows in 2006, just

European new car sales hit a slight 0.7% increase in 2006, according to statistics from JATO Dynamics, the provider of automotive data and intelligence.

This represents a 103,227 unit rise, pushing the year end total to 15,545,613 registered units.

Germany remained the largest market in Europe, with total new car registrations in 2006 hitting 3,468,028. This number represents an increase of 125,906 units or a 3.8% improvement over the 2005 results, with the Volkswagen Golf consistently the best selling model in the market. Italy assumed second place in the European market with 2,347,758 units sold compared to 2,265,624 units in 2005 (or a 3.6% increase). The United Kingdom was one of the few losers during 2006, slipping from second in the rankings to third, posting sales of 2,344,864 - a drop of 3.9%. The UK’s best selling model was the Ford Focus.

While Lithuania represents Europe’s smallest market with new car registrations totalling 14,234, Latvia represented the fastest growing market during 2006 with a significant increase of 51.8% from 16,857 to 25,582 units. Additionally, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Sweden and the Netherlands all also recorded increased markets for the year compared to 2005.

Europe’s best performing brand of 2006 was VW, thanks to several well-received new models – Passat, Jetta, Fox, Eos and Golf Plus, while in descending order the top ten is completed by Vauxhall, Renault, Ford, Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Toyota, Mercedes and BMW. Fiat recorded the largest increase in sales from this group with an 18.7% rise in new car registrations mainly due to strong sales of the Grande Punto, as well as the Croma, Sedici, an expanded Panda range and the face-lifted Doblo.

Europe’s best selling model during 2006 was the Vauxhall Astra, which successfully knocked the VW Golf off the top spot. Renault Clio sits second in the chart followed by the Ford Focus while the VW Golf has now slipped to fourth position.

“It’s always interesting to analyse the year end data,” says Laura Kirk at JATO Dynamics. “This is a revealing insight into Europe’s winners and losers during 2006 and reveals the depth of analysis and the level of understanding which JATO constantly maintains in the worldwide automotive markets.

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