Rising EU car registrations bring no relief from diesel decline

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European car registrations increased 7.1% in January but drivers continued to turn away from diesels.

The Tiguan was the best-selling SUV in Europe in January.

The Tiguan was the best-selling SUV in Europe in January.

A total of 1.28 million cars were registered, 84,000 more than in January 2017, according to Jato Dynamics figures, and marking the highest January volume since 2008, as well as the highest monthly percentage growth since May 2017.

Europe’s largest markets all posted an increase in registrations, with the exception of the UK. Germany maintained its dominance as Europe’s largest market with nearly 270,000 registrations. However, Spain recorded higher growth of 22.7%, compared to Germany’s 11.6%.

Of the 27 markets analysed it was the Eastern European region that registered the most growth, with Romania recording the largest year on year growth, with a significant 66.4% increase, followed by Slovakia at 47% and Hungary at 38.6%. Meanwhile, Norway posted the largest decrease with a 29.2% decline, which was significantly ahead of the UK in second place, with a 6.3% decline.

The results also showed that the diesel decline seen in 2017 continued, with registrations down by 12.5% in January 2018, recording just 40.6% of market share. In Germany, diesel registrations were down by 17.6%, followed by France and the UK, where registrations for diesels were down by 12.1% and 25.6% respectively.

In comparison, petrol car demand soared by 18.8% to 535,800 units, recording 52.2% of market share. AFV registrations also benefited, growing by 28.2% to 57,000 units, a record market share of 5.5%.

SUVs continued to boom, with the segment’s volume up by 26.2% to 428,300 units, a record level for January and equating to one in three registrations.

The small SUV sub-segment saw registrations grow by 39.7% in January, boosted by the arrival of VW Group to the market, which posted an increase of 123.1% in small SUV registrations. PSA also posted a large increase of 54.2% and outsold Renault-Nissan to become the topseller in the sub-segment. The executive segment also performed well in January, posting an increase of 28.6%, in part due to growth at BMW.

Volkswagen remained the top-selling brand with registrations up 5%, followed by Ford in second, although the carmaker posted the largest market share loss due to declines in the MPV segment, a key market for the group. Daimler and FCA also posted declines in market share.

The VW Golf remained Europe’s most popular model, up 15% in volumes and recording 17,300 more registrations than the second-placed Ford Fiesta. The Tiguan was also the best-selling SUV for January, despite posting a volume decline. Conversely, it was a bad month for Opel/Vauxhall, with the Astra and Corsa models posting volume decreases of 32% and 19%, respectively.

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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.