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Europe August 2018: Renault (+72%), Nissan (+49%), VW (+44%) play pre-WLTP sales game

Renault Captur sales are up 105.5% across Europe in August, but this is completely artificial.

* See the Top 10 Groups, Top 90 All-brands and Top 430 All-models by clicking on the title *

This update marks the start of a new and more detailed reporting for consolidated and definitive data on 28 European markets (ex-Russia, Turkey, Croatia and Bulgaria) thanks to our partnership with JATO Dynamics. You won’t find this data on any other media outlet. It has been a very unusual month for new car sales across Europe and more precisely the European Union, where a new (and more stringent) WLTP emissions rule was applied to all vehicles sold from September 1 onwards. As we have seen throughout our August updates, carmakers that were unprepared for the change and had high inventory of non-compliant cars rushed to register these vehicles before the deadline using artificial chanels such as fleet, demo, rental sales and self-registrations, resulting in grossly inflated registration figures across the EU. Among the main markets Germany is up 25%, France up 40%, the UK up 23% and Spain up 48%, while among smaller markets Romania (+138%), Poland (+64%), Lithuania (+58%), Belgium (+53%), Greece (+50%), Slovakia (+45%) and Hungary (+45%) get the most extravagant boosts.

Seat (+72.5%) helps pull Volkswagen Group sales up 40.1%

As expected, Europe-wide data shows an oversized year-on-year surge at +30.1% to 1.170.428 units, lifting the year-to-date tally up 5.9% to 11.138.944. This is the highest August score in 20 years, since the 1.231.498 units of August 1998, and also the largest year-on-year improvement in over ten years, breaking a record set in November 2009 (+25%) albeit in a totally artificial way. In fact, across 15 main markets tracked by JATO Dynamics, business and fleet registrations leap up 38% to a 59% share vs. 53% a year ago, whereas they were only up 11% in July and 5% in June. Reversely, private sales edge up just 11% to dive to 41% share vs. 47% in August 2017. Countries where business and fleet sales saw the largest jump are Spain (+86%), the Netherlands (+65%), France (+54%) and Austria (+54%) while countries where these artificial sales reached the highest share are Czech Republic (76%), Slovenia (75%) and Finland (73%). Diesel sales gain 13% with business and fleet – aggressive inventory clearing in a depressed segment – vs. -10% with private buyers, while gasoline fleet and business sales are up 68%. Overall, diesel sales hold 35% share in 17 markets tracked by JATO Dynamics vs. 42% a year ago while gasoline is at 57% vs. 51% and alternative fuel at 6.3% vs. 5.8%.

Dacia (+44.5%) hits its record European ranking thanks to the new Duster.

The Groups ranking shows clear culprits in the pre-WLTP sales manipulation: Renault-Nissan (+60%), the Volkswagen Group (+40.1%), FCA (+40%) and Hyundai-Kia (+34.4%) all clearly outpacing an already extravagant overall growth, demonstrating their lack of preparedness to the emissions rule change and large non-compliant inventories that needed to be artificially cleared. Expect reduced margins and depressed figures in the coming months as these vehicles are then on-sold as 0km second-hand across the continent. Suzuki (+21%), Toyota Motor (+19%), the PSA Group (+17.3%) and Ford Motor (+15.3%) also show dynamic growth but in context it actually paradoxically means their lineup wasn’t in dire need of cleanup as most models are already WLTP-compliant. Daimler AG (-1.5%) and the BMW Group (5.9%) show the weakest results but also potentially the healthiest ones.

The Borgward marque is back in Europe for the first time since 1961, thanks to Chinese funding.

Brand-wise, VW shoots up 45.5% with fleet/business sales up 56% to a whopping 67% share, also partially boosted by a T-Roc still gearing up (see further down). Renault is up a surreal (because artificial) 72.3% with fleet/business sales doubling to 61% share and private sales up 33%, while Audi is up 32.8% to remain at a record third place for the second month running thanks to fleet/business up 55% to an extreme 73% share. All other Top 10 brands show more muted – and realistic – gains, such as Peugeot (+20%), Toyota (+19.5%), Ford (+15.3%) and Skoda (+14.4%) while BMW (+4.5%), Opel (+4%) and Mercedes (-2.9%) are weak. Just outside the Top 10, Dacia soars 44.5% to hit its highest ever European ranking at #11 (pb #12 in August and December 2017) but with private sales traditionally ultra-dominant in Dacia’s sales mix, this gain can be attributed to strong new generation Duster sales (see further down) rather than artificial pre-WLTP play. The same can’t be said for Jeep (+166.1%), Jaguar (+119.6%), Infiniti (+107.3%), Porsche (+89.9%), Alfa Romeo (+80.3%), Seat (+72.5%), Mitsubishi (+71%), Subaru (+56.4%) or Nissan (+48.7%). Notice the arrival of China-funded, revived German brand Borgward at #61 with 23 sales in Luxembourg, the first market to see the marque in Europe.

Jeep sales are up 166.1% and the Compass scores its first Top 50 finish.

The VW Golf (+11%) survives an agitated month to keep the models lead, 9.000 sales above the Renault Clio (+53.7%) while the VW Tiguan (+77.8%) rounds up the podium for the second straight month – and ever, owing its ranking to the success of the Allspace variant accounting for 22% of its August volume. Below, the Nissan Qashqai (+97.1%), VW Polo (+68.7%) and Renault Captur (+105.5%) all outpace the market – artificially – whereas for the Dacia Duster (+84.2%) it’s a well-earned and new generation-fuelled new ranking record at #7, its 2nd appearance in a European Top 10 after hitting #9 last December. The Sandero (+24.1%) at #8 makes it two Dacias in the European Top 10 for the first time in history while the Renault Megane (+91.5%) reappears completely artificially inside the Top 10 for the first time since December 2016 and the Seat Leon (+50.9%) misses out on a maiden Top 10 for 700 units to finish at a record #11 (pb #18 in December 2014). The VW T-Roc improves its ranking record by 3 spots at #15, the Seat Arona by 5 at #32 and the Citroen C3 Aircross also at #35 just as the Jeep Compass (+530%) scores its first Top 50 at #42,

Previous month: Europe July 2018: Pre-WLTP stock clearing boosts Seat (+36.9%), VW (+28.3%), Audi (+14.3%), models podium 100% VW for the first time

One year ago (1): Europe August 2017: Mercedes #2, Octavia on podium, Sandero in Top 5

One year ago (2): Europe August 2017: Discover the Top 345 models and Top 56 brands

Full August 2018 Top 10 Groups, Top 90 All-brands and Top 430 All-models below.

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