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SUVs help to bolster European new car market

European new car registrations remained stable for the second month running in May, with SUVs offsetting the drops posted by the traditional segments.

The Renault Zoe was the top-selling electric car in May 2019

The figures from Jato Dynamics show that a total of 1.44 million vehicles were registered last month – a 0.2% increase on May 2018. The results follow April’s performance which saw 1.34 million vehicles registered – the same number as in April 2018 – and signify an end to the market’s extended period of decline between September 2018 and March 2019.

However, year-to-date figures still remain down, albeit with a decline of 2% compared to the 2.5% reported in April.

While demand for subcompact, compact, midsize and executive/luxury cars and MPVs fell during May, demand for SUVs was up by 10% to 534,700 units. SUVs continued to dominate the European market, as they counted for 37.2% of total registrations and posted a market share increase of 3.2 percentage points on the same time last year. Year-to-date figures show 2.56 million SUVs have been registered so far in 2019 in Europe – an increase of 8%.

SUVs’ growth came from the strong results posted by small and compact SUVs which, when combined, accounted for 81% of the segment’s total registrations. This was largely due to the good reception for the latest small SUV arrivals to the market, such as the Volkswagen T-Roc and T-Cross, Hyundai Kona and the new Dacia Duster, which led to a volume increase of 13% to 209,600 registrations. Meanwhile, demand for compact SUVs grew by 10% to 225,900 units, led by the Volkswagen Tiguan, Peugeot 3008 and Nissan Qashqai.

Registrations of pure electric cars soared by 85% – from 12,300 units in May 2018 to 22,300 last month – but still only counted for a marginal piece of the market. Overall, registrations 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 and with the majority of registrations from hybrid vehicles.

The Renault Zoe was the top-selling electric car in May 2019, but the Tesla Model 3 continues to lead the year-to-date rankings. However, registrations for the Model 3 fell from 15,755 in March to 3,659 in April, and 2,820 in May.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.