European registrations strong in H1

First half registrations in 2016 for Europe’s ‘Big 5’ markets showed that overall the market is performing strongly according to JATO Dynamics.

The total volume of new registrations in the first six months of the year grew by 8.9% as a result of double-digit growth in Italy and Spain. Both countries posted their best half-year results since 2008 thanks to improved economic conditions and increased consumer confidence. Four of the five markets surpassed the one-million-unit mark for H1, while June saw a 5% rise to 1.11 million units sold across the five countries.

Volkswagen led the market with 660,000 units and an 11.1% marketshare, following a slight drop of 0.5% in volume over the same period of 2015. The German brand saw its lowest first half year market share since 2008 and was the car maker to record the biggest market share drop compared to H1 2015 (12.2%). Despite the 17% growth seen in Italy, Volkswagen lost ground in the UK, Germany and France, recording drops of 8.7%, 1.4% and 0.4% respectively. Volkswagen’s top-seller, the Golf, maintained its overall sales volume but also lost market share. The continued market shift towards SUVs is a key factor in the manufacturer’s loss market share, SUVs accounted for only 9% of Volkswagen registrations, compared to an industry average of 25%.

Other mainstream brands benefitted from lower demand for Volkswagens. Renault became the second best-selling brand (with the second biggest market share), outperforming Ford, which took third place. The French brand’s sales grew by almost 15% during the first half of 2016 thanks to outstanding results in Italy, where it has been the second best-selling brand for the last two months, and double-digit growth in the rest of the ‘Big 5’ countries. In recent months, Renault has successfully updated much of its product line, with a focus on the SUV segments – the Captur is the best-selling SUV in the ‘Big 5′, and the Kadjar, the second best-selling C-SUV.

Fiat made the biggest gain in market share during the first six months of this year due to its strong momentum in the Italian market in particular. Ford, Opel/Vauxhall and Peugeot were positioned ahead of Fiat in the ranking, while the three German premiums and Citroen completed the top 10. Audi was the best-selling premium brand with 5.9% marketshare and an increase in volume of almost 12%. Mercedes followed with a 5.6% marketshare and 13.7% growth, while BMW remained in third place among the premiums with a 5.3% marketshare and 14% increase. The three German premiums’ volumes were mostly boosted by their SUV ranges which saw a 36% increase in registrations and accounted for almost 23% of the total. Other brands posting significant growth included Kia, Mazda, Land Rover, Honda and Jeep.

The SUV boom continued through the first half of the year thanks to a number of new launches. One in every four cars registered in the ‘Big 5’ markets during H1 2016 was an SUV – more than the total registrations of Subcompact cars (B-Segment) or Compacts (C-Segment).