European car sales rose 6.3 percent to 1.09 million vehicles in January, industry data showed today, even as Volkswagen Group saw registrations of VW-brand cars fall 4 percent in the wake of the automaker's emissions scandal.
VW rivals Ford and Opel/Vauxhall posted gains of 11.4 percent and 12.4 percent, respectively, as the diesel-emissions cheating scandal weighed on VW's European sales for a fifth consecutive month.
Competitors appear to be targeting VW. Fiat dealers in Germany offered rebates averaging 14.4 percent off the sticker price, making the brand the top discounter in VW's home market, according to trade publication Autohaus PulsSchlag. Ford was third with discounts of 13.7 percent. The industrywide average was 12.1 percent, up 0.2 percentage points from a year earlier.
VW brand’s sales last month dropped 8.8 percent in Germany and 14 percent in the UK while stagnating in Spain, where demand grew 12 percent, according to local industry figures. Seat, another VW brand affected by the diesel scandal, posted a 17 percent plunge in Spain, the division’s home market.
VW brand's market share in the EU and EFTA region dropped to 11.7 percent last month from 13.0 percent a year earlier, according to data released today by industry association ACEA.
IHS Automotive said VW's sales may be hit by an aging lineup, not just by the negative press related to the diesel emissions scandal. Key models such as the Golf compact and Polo subcompact are reaching the end of their current life cycles and the Tiguan SUV is soon to be replaced by a new generation.
Sales at VW Group, which includes luxury brands Audi and Porsche as well as the mass-market Skoda marques, rose 1 percent. Europewide increases of 14 percent at Audi and 6 percent at Skoda offset declines of 8.8 percent at Seat and 5.5 percent at Porsche. VW Group accounted for 24.3 percent of European car sales last month compared with 25.6 percent a year earlier.
Registrations at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Europe's No. 2 automaker after VW Group, increased by 3.7 percent. No. 3 Renault saw registrations of its Renault and Dacia brands rise by 1 percent.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' volume jumped 15 percent led by a 33 percent gain in Jeep sales and a 14 percent rise in Fiat registrations.
- Download PDF, above right, for January sales by group and brand.