Europe's first-half sales results provided further evidence the region's six-year slump will end in 2014. Led by Jeep, Lexus and Dacia, 14 brands grew more than the market, which was up by 6 percent to 6.85 million.
Another 10 brands, including German premium automakers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, reported year-on-year increases during the first six months. Just seven brands suffered sales declines in the period. The bottom three included Mini and Smart, each of which is changing over a core model, and Chevrolet, which will stop European sales at the end of 2015.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Jeep was the fastest-growing brand in the first half, with sales up by 44 percent to 16,348 units. With a 63 percent sales increase to 8,000 units, the Grand Cherokee large SUV accounted for about half of Jeep's volume during the period. Jeep said it is also benefiting from strong demand for the Cherokee. "After two months of sales in Europe, it is nearing the top of its segment," the company said.
Lexus gets a boost
The mid-sized IS sedan became Lexus' new best-seller in the first half, surpassing the cheaper and smaller CT200h compact and boosting volume at Toyota’s luxury brand by 35 percent to 14,047 units.
"We plan to strengthen Lexus sales momentum with the introduction of the new NX [compact crossover] in the final quarter of the year, and we are on track to exceed our target of 50,000 units in 2014 in our Europe region" including Russia, Alain Uyttenhoven, Toyota Europe vice president and head of Lexus Europe, said in a statement. He said Lexus expects the NX to account for a third of the brand’s deliveries in Europe and Russia next year.
The refreshed Duster small crossover gave a boost to Dacia in the first half. Renault’s no-frills brand grew by 35 percent to about 195,100 sales in the first six months of the year. Dacia also was helped by strong demand for its best-seller, the Sandero subcompact, which had a first-half volume of about 64,000 units.