SUVs help to bolster European new car market

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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.