Is Ford or is VW Europe's top-selling brand?

Luca Ciferri is an Automotive News staff reporter based in Turin, Italy.
Ford has issued a triumphant press release saying it was Europe's top-selling brand in March. Is that true? Well, yes and no.

In the 27-country EU, Ford outsold Volkswagen brand, the traditional leader, by 1,298 units in March, selling 168,611 new cars compared with VW's 167,313, according to ACEA, the association of European automakers.

But in what ACEA considers the entire Europe, which includes the non-EU countries of Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, VW is still No. 1 after selling 171,604 cars last month -- 482 more than Ford's 171,122.

Ford's strong March performance was largely due to the company's exceptionally strong performance in the UK, which is Ford's largest European market, and last month also was Europe's biggest car market.

Ford's March sales in the UK grew by 10,300 to 72,700, compared with the same month in 2009. March is usually a strong sales month in the UK because many consumers buy cars as a new annual number plate comes into effect. The country's new-car sales grew 26.6 percent to 397,383 last month, also helped by a last-minute rush into showrooms as government scrapping incentives finished.

Ford's March sales were also boosted by the ending of a scrappage scheme in Italy, its No. 2 European market, with Italian sales up 44.5 percent to 32,050 in a total market up 19.6 percent to 257,694.

The VW brand mainly suffered because of the weak German market. In a hangover from the ending of the country's scrappage scheme late last year, German sales declined 26.6 percent in March to 294,375 and 22.8 percent in the quarter to 670,410.

In the first three months, VW brand is the clear leader over Ford brand in the EU by more than 50,000 and by almost 60,000 if Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are added.

So well done Ford, but enjoy it while you can!