European new car sales fall below 2009 levels
According to the latest car sales analysis from JATO Dynamics, Europe's new car market is officially 1.5% lower versus 2009.
The move into the red has been precipitated by a 17.4% fall in new cars during July 2010, versus July 2009. The end of scrappage schemes has played a significant role, with the UK and France joining Germany and Italy, in posting lower July sales figures compared to the same period last year.
The lack of strong Central and Eastern Europe economies has also played a part year to date, with the first hopes of recovery only now being seen in Baltic markets and Hungary.
This is affecting some of the major brands and models. In particular, Ford sales are falling, with the Focus in 10th place in July and Fiesta now third overall. Both cars are popular in the UK, where sales have contracted this month, adding to the difficulties presented by shrinking new car demand in Germany.
David Di Girolamo, head of JATO Consult, said: 'Analysing the UK and Germany clearly show the impact scrappage schemes had in supporting new car sales. Today's figures represent the natural level of new car demand in these markets.'
In terms of brand performance, Volkswagen took the lead, with 120,420 units in July 2010, while Renault retained second place, posting 87,156 units.
Elsewhere, even with new models, the big brands are attracting fewer customers than when scrappage incentives were driving purchase. Both Opel/Vauxhall and Ford sales are down around a quarter (24.2% and 25.7%, respectively), while Fiat sales are down almost a third (32.6%).
Looking at model performance, the one model to buck the downward trend most significantly is Volkswagen's Polo, which has posted sales gains in all major markets, versus July 2009, notably with a 40% increase in Germany in July, against an overall market contraction of 30.2%.
Renault's refreshed Mégane continues to show improving sales, in contrast to the rest of the top ten. The Ford Focus has returned to the top ten, but sales remain much lower than 2009 levels, contributing to Ford's weaker overall brand performance, versus a year ago.