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JATO Dynamics, the world’s leading provider of automotive data and intelligence, has released its monthly European new car market analysis for April 2009, showing the Volkswagen Golf has re-claimed its crown as Europe’s best-selling car, while Volkswagen remains the best-selling brand.

Ford has kept up the pressure on its German rival however, with the new Fiesta continuing to increase its sales across Europe, up 19.7% year-to-date and 26.9% for the month of April. Fiesta has sold especially well in the ‘big 5’ European new car markets (Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain), where its introduction has also coincided with scrappage schemes incentivising consumers towards new, smaller cars.

Beyond the Ford Fiesta, only two other cars in the top ten have managed to increase sales year-to-date over the same period in 2008, with the Volkswagen Polo up by a slim 0.7% and Fiat Panda up by an impressive 17.6%.

This small car success is in marked contrast to the overall European new car market, which dropped by 17.5% (247,001 units) in April 2009 versus April 2008, to a monthly total of 1,162,257 units. This translates to a year-to-date fall of 16.8% (or 925,225 units) versus the same period last year, with total sales of 4,576,015.

“National government scrappage schemes are really starting to have an impact, both in the sales volumes in different markets and in the type of cars being sold”, says David Di Girolamo, Head of JATO Consult. “The bigger picture shows the size of the drop in new car sales across Europe and we’ll continue to monitor this closely for signs of a wider improvement.”

All but one of the top ten best-selling models in Europe are now B or C segment cars, accounting for 1,031,780 sales year-to-date between them, or 22.5% of the total market.

Brand Performance

Volkswagen was once again Europe’s top-selling car brand in April, but with sales down 10.1%, versus 2008. Ford maintains a close second, while Renault has moved up to take third place for April, benefitting from significant domestic sales increases for Megane and Twingo in France. It remains fifth year-to-date, behind Opel/Vauxhall and Fiat.

National Trends

Behind the downward European sales trend, the picture of national new car sales shows the varying effect of scrappage schemes around Europe.

Germany’s new car market continues to benefit, just as the German government has announced plans to extend its scrappage scheme until the end of 2009, with sales down only 3.1% in April and up 11.6% year-to-date. All other major European new car markets are still suffering the effects of the global recession and while many now have national incentive schemes in place to encourage purchase of new cars, the effect of these is yet to be felt in the UK and Spain.
 
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