New car sales statistics
released by data specialist Jato Dynamics reveal a divergence
between ‘core’ and emerging European economies, and nations
suffering crippling debt and economic


Jato Dynamics figures show
just two of the ‘Big Five’ markets recorded increased first-half
2011 sales compared to 2010: France (up 1%) and Germany (up 10.5%,
selling 153,788 more units).

Three recorded fewer sales:
UK (down 7.1%), Italy (down 13.2%) and Spain (down 26.9%, selling
162,928 fewer units).

Eurozone basket case Greece
saw its sales plummet by 43.6%.

Continent-wide new car sales
in the first half of 2011 were down 1.4% compared to the first half
of 2010. A total of 7,316,671 units were sold – 104,900 fewer than
in the first half of 2010.

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Volkswagen retained and
consolidated its position as Europe’s leading brand, selling
880,308 units in the first half of the year, a 5.9% increase on the
year-ago period.

German brands as a whole
continued to perform well in 2011, with Audi’s sales up 8.7%, BMW’s
up 8.4%, and Mercedes’ up 0.6%.

Jato vice-president of
research Gareth Hession said: “Consumer perception of quality
equipment levels and strong residual values are critical factors in
the success of the German brands.

“Their success is supported
not only by their traditional customer base, who being typically
more affluent are more confident purchasers during these tough
economic times, but also from consumers who are looking for
security from their hard-earned investment.”

Sales in Central and Eastern
Europe were consistently good during the first half of 2011, as the
automotive market continues to expand in the region.

Poland performed particularly
well, with sales up by 22.9% in June and by 22.8% during the first
half of the year.

Outside the top 10 brands,
Asian manufacturers Nissan and Hyundai improved sales on the first
quarter of 2010 by 16.8% and 10.5% respectively. Toyota, however,
sold 9.9% fewer units over the same period.

Volkswagen’s Golf maintains
its leading position in Europe, selling 253,288 units in the first
half of 2011.

The success of the relaunched
Ford Focus and Volkswagen Passat meant these were the only two
models in the top 10 to experience growth during the first half of
2011, and during June.

Looking at the monthly
trends, there was uplift in sales during May, sales in June fell by
7.8%. Only Ford and Audi increased monthly sales in June, both
helped by new models.

June saw monthly sales
increases in just two of the top 10 brands, Ford and Audi, up 0.7%
and 9.2% respectively, largely due to the significant sales of the
Focus and the new A1.

Hession concluded: “Despite
some positive signs earlier this year, ongoing economic instability
in many markets has kept many people away from

“The success of new models such as the new Ford Focus and
Audi’s A1 demonstrates the importance of having products that are
fresh in a difficult market.”