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European new car sales up 1.4% in Q3

European new car sales have improved slightly in the Q3 by 1.4% to 3,087,348 units sold due to increased sales during August and September.

German car brands Volkswagen, Audi, BMW and Mercedes stayed strong throughout Q3, weathering tough economic conditions, according to the latest statistics from JATO Dynamics.

Only Germany recorded improved sales out of the 'big five' European markets for Q3, up 11.6%.

Continued economic uncertainty in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal was reflected in local market sales during the period.

Volkswagen retains and consolidates its position as Europe's leading brand, selling 400,001 units during Q3.

National trends

Out of the ‘big five’ European markets only Germany experienced positive growth during Q3 2011, up 11.6% following the sale of 779,157 units.

Great Britain, Spain, France, and Italy were down 0.7%, 1.4%, 2.0%, and 6.3% respectively.

Sales in the Baltic region continue to perform consistently well during Q3 2011 as automotive markets expand in this region. Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia recorded increases of 62.6%, 60.4% and 58.5% respectively.

Gareth Hession, JATO Dynamics vice president research, said: “This quarter’s data clearly demonstrates the continued importance of growth markets and potential of regions such as the Baltics.

“It’s a relief to see these markets showing such strength when many of the bigger markets are struggling. The big five remain critical though, and doubtless the competition for market share will remain fierce.”

Brand performance

Volkswagen continues to be Europe’s leading brand with sales increasing by 15.1% during Q3 2011. Other German brands continue to perform well in 2011 with Audi, BMW and Mercedes experiencing increases of 14.2%, 6.3% and 4.4% respectively. Within the top ten brands, Ford was the only other to see sales growth for the period, up 1.8%, most likely due to the recently revised Ford Focus.

Despite this there was encouraging growth outside of the top 10 brands, in particular Asian manufacturers, Kia, Nissan and Hyundai had positive performances, increasing 23.9%, 18.7%, and 16.4% respectively during Q3.

Toyota continues to experience a drop in demand, down 13.5% for the same period.

Hession said: "German brands continue to perform well, no doubt helped by a strong domestic market but also implying that the premium end of the market is more resilient to economic uncertainty."

Model performance

Volkswagen’s Golf remains Europe’s best-selling car, increasing its sales by 11.3% during Q3 2011, selling 119,409 units. The Volkswagen Polo has also made progress with a 4.5% increase in Q3, making it Europe’s second most popular car.

The recently revised Passat and third generation Focus also continue to climb with Q3 sales up 48.3% and 26.3% respectively, demonstrating the importance of new product ranges for manufacturers.

Six of the top 10 models recorded improved sales during Q3, in contrast to the falling sales in the first half of the year where the majority of top 10 models were down.

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