Europe’s highest volume of May new car registrations since 2007 helped to maintain a degree of stability in the market last month – with a sales increase 0.2% across the month.
Jato Dynamics reported that a total of 1.44 million vehicles were registered across the 27 markets included in its monthly report, claiming that the result marked “an end to the market’s extended period of decline between September 2018 and March 2019”.
With 6.91 million vehicles having been registered so far in 2019, registrations remain 2% down year-to-date, however.
Felipe Munoz, Jato’s global analyst, said: “The market had a welcoming response to the latest vehicle launches in May.
“Moving forward, there’s still a long way to go until we see real progress with EVs, which means SUVs will continue to be the best hope for carmakers selling cars in Europe.”
Jato said that compact SUVs had driven market growth in May, offsetting the drops posted by the traditional segments.
Demand for subcompact, compact, midsize and executive/luxury cars and MPVs fell during the month as overall demand for SUVs rose 10% to 534,700 units - accounting for 37.2% of total registrations and posting a 3.2ppt year-on-year market share increase.
Year-to-date figures show 2.56 million SUVs have been registered so far in 2019 in Europe – an increase of 8%.
Combined, compact SUVs counted for 81% of the segment’s total registrations in May, Jato said, as the Volkswagen T-Roc and T-Cross, Hyundai Kona and the new Dacia Duster led to a volume increase of 13% to 209,600 registrations.
“This is a remarkable increase over the last 10 years, considering there were only 125,000 small SUV registrations across the whole of 2009,” Jato said in its report, adding: “Meanwhile, demand for compact SUVs grew by 10% to 225,900 units, led by the Volkswagen Tiguan, Peugeot 3008 and Nissan Qashqai.”
Volkswagen Group was the clear leader in the SUV segment.
In May, the German maker recorded 123,100 SUV registrations – up by 29% – as PSA Group came second with 93,100 registrations, up 12%.
Renault-Nissan posted a decline in the segment, as volume dropped by 5% to 83,300 registrations.
Electrified vehicles (EVs) continue to make up a very small portion of Europe’s new car registrations.
Sales of pure electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars totalled 94,000 units in 18 European markets in May, counting for 7.1% of the total volume.
The majority of registrations came from hybrid vehicles, but the growth was driven by pure electric cars, where registrations jumped from 12,300 units in May 2018 to 22,300 last month.
The Renault Zoe was the top-selling electric car last month, but the Tesla Model 3 continues to lead the year-to-date rankings.
However, Jato reported that registrations for the Model 3 fell from 15,755 in March to 3,659 in April, and 2,820 in May.
Munoz said: “A large part of Tesla’s global plans depend on how the brand can maintain the sales growth of the Model 3.
“The sedan needs to continue to grab the attention of consumers in Europe, as US demand has almost peaked already. The initial good start we saw in March has somewhat dissipated in April and May.”