Nissan passed Toyota to become the top-selling Asian brand in Europe in the first six months.
Nissan's European sales were boosted by the latest-generation Qashqai compact crossover and by gains in key markets such as the UK, France and Germany. Toyota, meanwhile, has been hit by a slump in Germany, Europe's biggest market, where demand is weak for the brand's aging lineup.
Nissan Europe sales and marketing boss Guillaume Cartier said in a statement that the brand's rise to become the region's No. 1 Asian brand is a "historic moment for everyone connected to the Nissan business."
Cartier had told Automotive News Europe in an interview published in June that besides passing Toyota to become Europe’s top-selling Asian brand by 2016, his aim is to remain profitable and to be Europe’s “most desirable Asian brand” in terms of products, in-car features and service.
Toyota declined to comment directly on the results. “We would like to refrain from comparing our results with those of other companies. We pay no attention to rankings of this nature,” a Toyota Europe spokeswoman told Automotive News Europe.
Toyota surpassed Nissan as the best-selling Japanese brand in Europe in 1998, but Nissan vowed to win back the title. Nissan's European sales have been growing for the past five years
Nissan's registrations in the EU and EFTA countries increased 21 percent to 303,507 through June, with market share rising to 4.1 percent from 3.7 percent a year earlier, according to data from industry association ACEA. Sales of Toyota brand cars rose 4.2 percent to 293,968. Its market share dropped a one-tenth of a percentage point to 4 percent.
In the UK, Nissan achieved its best market share to date -- 6 percent -- with a 17 percent rise in volume through June to 83,423 units. Toyota's UK sales grew by 4 percent to 53,945 for a 3.9 percent share.
In France, Nissan's sales increased by 12 percent to 40,383 for a share of nearly 4 percent while Toyota's sales rose by 8 percent to 37,235 for a 3.7 percent share.
In Germany Toyota's registrations plunged by 7 percent to 32,712 for a 2 percent share while Nissan's volume rose nearly 10 percent to 35,422 for a 2.2 percent share. Toyota is closing 100 dealerships in Germany to adjust to lower sales.
Nissan’s second-generation Qashqai, which launched last year, has been a sales success. The crossover accounted for 101,579 of the brand’s 249,164 sales in the first five months, according to market researchers at JATO Dynamics.
Volkswagen brand is Europe's top-selling marque with 901,452 sales through June, up nearly 9 percent for a 12.1 percent share of the market.
David Jolley contributed to this report