LUCA CIFERRI

In Europe, 2011 was a good year for …

Luca Ciferri is Automotive News Europe's chief correspondentLuca Ciferri is Automotive News Europe's chief correspondent
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A quick analysis of Europe's new-car sales results from ACEA shows that 2011 was great for most German premium carmakers, mixed for the Asians and tough on any European volume maker that is not part of the Volkswagen Group.

The clear winners were VW brand, Audi, BMW brand, Mini, Hyundai, Kia and Nissan. (See PDF of 2011 European sales by brand, above right)

With sales up 9 percent to 680,262 units, Audi remained Europe's No. 1 premium brand ahead of BMW, which grew 5 percent to 641,737 units.

Mercedes' sales rose a modest 1 percent to 591,750 units, but that was good enough to climb into the top 10, replacing struggling Toyota.

Mini enjoyed a record year in Europe, with sales up 19 percent to 168,462 units. This permitted to the BMW-owned near-premium brand to outsell volume automakers such as Honda and Mazda in Europe.

European car buyer's appetite for premium brands also benefited Toyota's Lexus marque, which rose 53 percent to 27,016 units, and helped Volvo and Land Rover each grow by about 11 percent compared with 2010.

The VW brand remained the unrivaled leader in Europe, boosting its dominating market share to 12.4 percent from 11.2 percent. In term of units, VW increased sales 9 percent to 1,684,150 units.

South Korean brands Hyundai and Kia benefitted from having fresh product lineups as each boosted European sales by more than 11 percent. This is in sharp contrast of General Motors-owned Chevrolet, which saw sales of its Korea-made lineup decline almost 2 percent.

Nissan and Mitsubishi were the only Japanese automakers to finish with sales gains in Europe. Nissan rose 14 percent to 458,033 units because of strong demand for its Qashqai and Juke crossovers while Mitsubishi was helped by its strong sales of its news ASX crossover. Mazda and Honda each had sales declines of 20 percent or more and Toyota's volume dipped 8 percent.

European volume automakers PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Renault and Fiat took a beating in 2011. Renault and Peugeot each declined 9 percent, Citroen fell 8 while Fiat dropped 17 percent. With the French and Italian economies in trouble, analysts see 2012 being just as difficult for the four brands.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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