European car sales on the rise

European car sales rose 6.3 percent to 1.09 million vehicles in January, industry data showed, even as Volkswagen Group saw registrations of VW-brand cars fall 4 percent in the wake of the automaker's emissions scandal.

VW rivals Ford and Opel/Vauxhall posted gains of 11.4 percent and 12.4 percent, respectively, as the diesel-emissions cheating scandal weighed on VW's European sales for a fifth consecutive month. VW brand’s sales last month dropped 8.8 percent in Germany and 14 percent in the UK while stagnating in Spain, where demand grew 12 percent, according to local industry figures. Seat, another VW brand affected by the diesel scandal, posted a 17 percent plunge in Spain, the division’s home market. VW brand's market share in the EU and EFTA region dropped to 11.7 percent last month from 13.0 percent a year earlier.

Sales at VW Group, which includes luxury brands Audi and Porsche as well as the mass-market Skoda marques, rose 1 percent. Europewide increases of 14 percent at Audi and 6 percent at Skoda offset declines of 8.8 percent at Seat and 5.5 percent at Porsche. VW Group accounted for 24.3 percent of European car sales last month compared with 25.6 percent a year earlier.

Registrations at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Europe's No. 2 automaker after VW Group, increased by 3.7 percent. No. 3 Renault saw registrations of its Renault and Dacia brands rise by 1 percent. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' volume jumped 15 percent led by a 33 percent gain in Jeep sales and a 14 percent rise in Fiat registrations.

Most Asian brands had a good month except Nissan, whose volume fell by 4.6 percent. Kia's registrations rose 13 percent while Hyundai brand sales gained 9.1 percent. Toyota and Lexus sales were up 2.2. percent.

Jaguar Land Rover led gains at premium brands with registrations rising 53 percent, boosted by a 160 percent gain in Jaguar's volume. Daimler's Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands had a combined gain of 9.4 percent. BMW and Mini's combined registrations were up 4.8 percent. Volvo's volume jumped by 4.7 percent.

European recovery

January marked the 29th month in a row of growth in industry wide European car sales, which are still recovering from a two-decade low reached in 2013. Italy, with an 18 percent gain, and Spain, with 12.1 percent growth, recorded the strongest performances among major European markets in January. In France, registrations rose by 3.9 percent while Germany was up 3.3 percent and UK registrations increased by 2.9 percent. Analysts at Barclays said the January gain when adjusted for working days was 11.6 percent, the second-strongest increase for any month in the past five years. Barclays expects sales to grow 3.3 percent in Western Europe this year, slowing from last year's 8.9 percent, but remaining above the growth rates of other markets such as the United States.

A full report showing the sales for EU-28 can be downloaded here


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