Car sales in Western Europe rose a modest 2.5% in 2017, boosted by burgeoning demand for SUVs, and despite the shunning of diesels and Britain’s pre-Brexit problems.
Sales in December dived 5.3% to just over 1 million, but that was mainly due to less selling days in the month than 2016’s.
But even this small increase for 2017 was too much for market leader Volkswagen. Its own brand VW sales fell 1.8% to 1.6 million, according to data from the European Car manufacturers Association, known by its French acronym ACEA. Overall Volkswagen sales also failed to keep up with the overall market with a 1.2% increase to 3.3 million. VW market share slipped to 23.2% from 23.5%.
Sales in Western Europe, which includes all the big markets like Germany, France, Britain, Spain and Italy, rose 2.5% to 14.3 million in 2017.
While Volkswagen, even with its brands like Audi, Porsche, Skoda and SEAT, couldn’t match the market pace, France’s PSA Group scored a spectacular win with a 26.6% gain to 1.8 million, but that looks a bit less impressive when you recall it bought GM’s Opel and Vauxhall this year.
Renault of France, Fiat Chrysler, Mercedes, Kia, Volvo and Toyota managed to raise sales faster than the overall market, while BMW, Nissan, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover lagged a bit. Suzuki managed a big 19.9% sales gain. Honda sales fell 12.5%.
Ford, which said Tuesday in Detroit it has no intention of emulating GM and leaving Europe, showed why some investors question its presence as it sales fell 1.8% to 950,000 and its market share slipped to 6.6% from 6.9%.
In Britain, sales fell nearly 6% to 2.5 million as buyers worried about Brexit and the economy, and diesels were also hit by doubts about the technology’s future.