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European market shows signs of improvement

European new car registrations fell by 5.8% to 1,088,195 units in May but the decline in the market is slowing, according to the latest figures from JATO Dynamics.

Despite year-to-date figures showing a decline of 6.8% compared to 2012, the downward trend appears to be slowing, as year-to-date decline rates have become smaller each month since March this year.

Within the ‘Big Five’ markets, Great Britain was the only market to record an improvement in year-on-year sales volumes for both the month and year-to-date figures whereas France, Germany, Italy and Spain all suffered decreased volumes for both month and year-to-date figures.

The UK stands out as a prosperous place to be a car retailer posting an 11% increase in year-on-year figures for May, remaining up by 9.3% year-to-date.

Although Finland posted the largest year-on-year increase for the month of May at 39.6%, this dramatic increase year-on-year is largely due to a change in car tax in April 2012 that resulted in an artificially high sales volume in March 2012 and thereafter artificially lower sales in the subsequent months. Year-to-date figures, which remain down by 19.5%, are more representative of the overall picture in Finland.

Gareth Hession, vice president of research at JATO Dynamics, said: “Although the latest year-to-date figures continue to show an overall decline, it’s important to note that they suggest the decline is beginning to slow. Alongside a few of the premium names, brands like Dacia, Kia, Subaru and Seat are helping to reverse the trend of decline.”

Brand performance

Out of the top 10 manufacturers, Mercedes was the only brand to record an increase in either year-on-year monthly or year-to-date figures, with sales up 1.8% and 2.3% respectively. This is largely thanks to the successful launch of the new shape A-Class and the introduction of the new CLA-Class four-door coupé.

All other brands in the top 10, including market leader Volkswagen, reported a decline for both monthly and year-to-date volumes.

Outside the top 10, Dacia, currently 17th, made significant progress over 2012, reporting an 18.2% increase in both monthly year-on-year and year-to-date volumes. Other brands that are making strong progress include: Mazda, up 30.9% for the month and 7.2% year-to-date; Seat, up 12.8% for the month and 9.4% year-to-date; Land Rover, up 10.8% for the month and 10.1% year-to-date; and Jaguar up 16.2% for the month and 15.6% year-to-date.

Model performance

The Volkswagen Golf continued to be Europe’s best-selling car, despite a slight drop in sales (0.7% for the month and 2.1% year-to-date). New model Peugeot 208 and facelifted Renault Clio continued to sell well, recording increased sales in May 2013, compared to May 2012.

Out of the top five, four were B-segment models: Ford Fiesta; Peugeot 208; Opel/Vauxhall Corsa; Renault Clio. However, both the Ford Fiesta and Opel/Vauxhall Corsa experienced a drop in sales for the month compared to May 2012 and also remain down year-to-date.

Click on page 2 to view JATO's May 2013 graphs.







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