VW Golf sales rise 28% to keep it Europe's top selling car

VW has built seven generations of the best-selling Golf since its introduction 40 years ago.
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The Volkswagen Golf remained Europe's best-selling car after sales grew by 28 percent in January, according to market researcher JATO Dynamics.

At the same time a 9 per cent rise in sales lifted its smaller sister vehicle, the Polo, two positions to second place. An 8 percent increase left Ford's Fiesta in third spot. The fourth-placed Renault Clio and Peugeot 208 at No. 5 were both down in volume.

The new Skoda Octavia and Audi A3 also performed particularly well in January. Gaining 33 percent during the month, the Octavia climbed to sixth place.

In eighth place, Audi's A3 was the only top 10 model to better this, the recently expanded range recording an 84 percent increase. It was notable that models built on VW's MQB platform (Golf, Octavia and A3) accounted for 30 percent of the top 10 sellers and that there were just 1,772 units separating 2nd from 4th place.

VW brand No 1

With an 8 percent increase in volume in January to 122,801 units, Volkswagen remained Europe's top-selling brand. Ford held onto second place with a 9 percent gain to 67,869 units, while Peugeot, up 9 percent to 61,874 units, and Renault, up 4 percent to 59,315 units, moved up to third and fourth places respectively. In doing this they took advantage of an 8 percent setback for Opel/Vauxhall, mainly due to lower sales of the Astra in the UK and Germany.

Overall European new car sales in January rose 5 percent on the same month of 2013 to just over 965,000 vehicles. This was the fifth consecutive month in which sales rose, with 23 of the 30 country markets in the JATO analysis recording gains.

Germany and the UK continued to perform well, with year-on-year growth of 7 percent in the former to 205,996 units and 8 percent in the latter to 154,562 units. Unable to replicate December's double-digit growth, Spanish volumes still improved by 9 percent to 54,430 units. Italian sales rose 3 percent to 118,725 units, while France just managed to stay in positive territory, up 0.5 percent to 125,454 units.

Leaders of the pack
Europe's top ten brands by January unit sales, with % change from January 2013.

VOLKSWAGEN 122,801 +7.8%
FORD 67,869 +8.5%
PEUGEOT 61,874 +9.4%
RENAULT 59,315 +3.7%
OPEL/VAUXHALL 55,048 -8.0%
AUDI 54,195 5 +7.7%
CITROEN 50,213 +4.4%
BMW 48,635 +1.2% 4
FIAT 45,866 -2.4%
MERCEDES 45,765 +0.7%
Source: JATO Dynamics

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.

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