The European new car market recorded another year-on-year decline in 2022. According to JATO Dynamics data for 30 markets (EU-26 + UK, Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland), volume totaled 11 309 310 units, down by 4,1% compared to 2021 and the lowest level since 1985. After 14 years, the VW Golf had to give its crown for the best-selling model to the Peugeot 208.
Compared with 2019, total volume was down by 29%, with 4,5 million fewer new vehicle registrations. Felipe Munoz, a Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics, commented: “Shortages of new vehicles at dealerships, inflation, and the energy crisis all proved to be major challenges for the already troubled market last year. The fallout of the pandemic, followed by the semi-conductor shortage throughout 2021 and 2022, was only compounded by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent energy price increases, impacting consumer confidence and spending.”
While they still play a minor role in market share, some Chinese brands made significant progress in 2022. As a result, these brands gained the most market share among all car groups, with registrations jumping from 66 100 units in 2021 to 152 400 units last year.
A large proportion of sales corresponded to vehicles designed and manufactured by MG, which saw a volume increase of 116% to almost 114 000 units, outselling the likes of Jeep and Honda. Munoz again: “A competitive product offering and reasonable sales targets are allowing Chinese brands to make inroads into the European car market. The next step is to build awareness and encourage the shift away from the negative sentiment that has historically dissuaded some consumers from buying Chinese products.”
Hyundai-Kia and Toyota also performed well in 2022. The former saw an increase in the volume of 3,8% to 1,05 million units. Kia was the main contributor to these results, outselling its sister brand, Hyundai, by some 22 000 units. Toyota’s results were mainly owed to the successful first full year of the Yaris Cross – Europe’s fourth best-selling B-SUV. As a result, the Japanese carmaker secured a record second position in the ranking by brand, outsold only by Volkswagen.
VW Golf dethroned
2022 marked the end of the Volkswagen Golf’s reign as Europe’s best-selling car. The hatchback has been the most popular vehicle in Europe since 2007. Munoz commented: “The success of the Golf is owed to the fact that it was able to meet the needs of a wide range of consumers without leading in any given parameter. But times change, and today consumer priorities differ from some years ago.” The immense appetite for SUVs is one of the most important factors playing here.
Within the VW family, we see it through the growing popularity of Golf siblings like the T-Roc, Tiguan, Karoq, Ateca, and, more recently, the Formentor. The Peugeot 208 emerged as the beneficiary of these challenges. The last time Peugeot led the European market was in 2007 with the Peugeot 207.
The Golf fell from 1st to 5th place in the general ranking by model between 2021 and 2022. The Dacia Sandero was Europe’s second most registered vehicle, holding its position achieved in 2021 thanks to continued strong demand in France. The Volkswagen T-Roc, Europe’s best-selling SUV, secured 3rd place and was followed by the Fiat 500, which again performed well thanks to its electric version.
Regarding EVs, Tesla is still far ahead
Tesla’s market share rose from 1,43% in 2021 to 2,06% in 2022. This growth was driven by the Model Y, Europe’s best-selling electric vehicle with just over 138 000 registered units. The fully-electric SUV was Europe’s 13th best-selling car in 2022, and as expected, the increasing popularity of the Model Y came at the expense of the Model 3 (now in 33rd place with 91 684 units, 17th in 2021 with some 141 000 units).
Other notable full electric performers were the Volkswagen ID.4 (67.655 units, 50th place), the Dacia Spring (48 800 units), the MG ZS (46 100 units), the BMW i4 (41 100 units), the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (37 600 units), the Cupra Born (32 400 units) and the Polestar 2 (32 300 units). For sure, cars with an electric version, like the Peugeot 208, will have good electric sales too, but we didn’t get the details.
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