The European new car market continues to decline with a 7.7% drop in May and 7.3% year-to-date, but Great Britain was the only market to record in increase in the month.
According to the latest figures from automotive intelligence provider JATO Dynamics, France took the brunt of the decline in May, which has prompted senior execs at Renault to call for a reintroduction of measures like the scrappage scheme.
Among the top 10 brands by volume, Renault, Peugeot and Citroen suffered the largest fall in sales during May, down 15.6%, 17.3% and 19.8%, respectively.
JATO said the significant decline in the sales volume of these French brands can be attributed in large part to their heavy exposure in southern Europe, which has been hit hardest by the European economic crisis.
Volkswagen remains Europe’s top brand and ahead of Ford despite a decrease in sales last month.
Audi is the only brand to record an increase in sales within the top 10 brands in Europe, up 4.5% in May and 4.4% YTD, thanks to the new Q3 model and improved A6.
Mercedes recorded a slight decrease in sales in May, down 0.5%, but models such as the new A-Class and new B-Class had strong local sales in Germany.
Outside the top 10 brands, Land Rover continues to perform well with sales increasing by 54.7% in May helped by the continued success of the Range Rover Evoque. Kia also recorded a 22.9% sales increase during the same period boosted by strong sales of the Rio last month.
Despite a significant reduction in May sales, Volkswagen’s Golf, down 13.5%, and Ford’s Fiesta, down 12.4%, retain first and second place in the top ten models sold in Europe.
New to the top 10 models list this year, Renault’s Megane is the only model to see an increase in sales last month, up 2.6%, fuelled by strong sales in France, Spain and the Netherlands. Achieving 21,817 sales in May, the Megane claimed seventh place ahead of the Renault Clio, Fiat Panda and Volkswagen Passat.
Outside the top 10, the Toyota Yaris, Audi A6 and Mercedes B-Class recorded significant increases in sales during May. New models such as the Volkswagen Up, Audi Q3 and Peugeot 208 also had solid sales last month.
Gareth Hession, JATO vice president, research, said: “It’s encouraging to see that new models from Volkswagen, Audi and Peugeot sold well last month.
“Clearly car buyers still appreciate innovation and will continue to invest in new and improved vehicles despite the ongoing European economic uncertainty.”