Market remains unstable
JATO Dynamics says that scrappage deals continued to tempt Western European car buyers to showrooms in January. Italy, Great Britain, Spain and France all recorded double-digit sales growth with Italy selling more cars than any other European market (207,427 units).
Yet, with the UK's scheme to end at the start of April and France, Spain and Italy set to phase out theirs gradually through 2010, the writing is on the wall.
'For all that scrappage has helped generate these positive numbers; it will only continue to support markets for a limited period in 2010. Unless we see clear signs of recovery, there could be some difficult months ahead,' said David Di Girolamo, head of JATO Consult.
Central and Eastern Europe continues to struggle, with markets across this region down significantly versus 2009 and showing no sign of recovery. The regional picture is even bleaker when the Russian market is taken into account, which JATO revealed recently to have almost halved last year.
In terms of models, once again, most buyers were tempted by the Volkswagen Golf, closely followed by the Ford Fiesta. These two models increased sales by 19.8% and 21.4% respectively, versus January 2009.
These two remain well clear of other top sellers, but the Renault Clio can claim to be most improved, with a 90.3% sales increase, while Volkswagen's new Polo lifted its sales by 71.5%.
Volkswagen, Renault, Ford, Peugeot and Fiat, all benefited in the first month of the year, boosted by scrappage schemes favouring small, low-CO2 cars.
Moving onto the manufacturers' league table, Renault has passed Ford into second place, behind Volkswagen, driven by the success of the Clio, which accounted for a third of its sales, while VW continues to be Europe's best selling brand supported by refreshed models of the Golf and Polo.
The popularity of Fiat's low-CO2 European model range has helped it into the top five brands, up 21.5% for the period.