2012 First Quarter Best-Selling Car Manufacturers & Brands in Europe

The VW Group remained the best-selling car manufacturer in Western Europe and Volkswagen the top-selling auto brand in the first quarter of 2012.

Der neue Volkswagen up!
Volkswagen still the top-selling car brand in Europe Photo: Volkswagen Media Services

The first quarter of 2012 saw the VW Group and Volkswagen brand increase their dominance of the European car market. Other major automobile manufacturing groups including Peugeot, Ford, Renault, GM, and Fiat all saw sharp declines. Japanese car brands had mixed results in Europe at the start of 2012 while Korean cars sold well.

The European car market for Q1/2012 was down by 7.3% to 3,427,677 new passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union and EFTA countries in January, February, and March 2012.

Best-Selling Car Manufacturers in the EU & EFTA for Q1/2012

The best-selling car manufacturers during the first quarter of 2012 in the European Union and EFTA according to car sales statistics released by ACEA聽were:

% Market ShareCar Sales January to March
Q1/2012Q1/201120122011% +/-
ALL BRANDS**3,427,6773,696,919-7.3
VW Group23.721.9813,522809,185+0.5
Volkswagen12.611.6431,901427,688+1.0
Audi5.24.7179,629172,436+4.2
Seat2.02.269,88081,015-13.7
Skoda3.83.5131,422127,595+3.0
Others (1)0.00.0690451+53.0
PSA Group11.913.3407,792491,542-17.0
Peugeot6.37.2217,461266,330-18.3
Citro毛n5.66.1190,331225,212-15.5
FORD8.38.2282,933301,989-6.3
RENAULT Group8.29.9281,969364,634-22.7
Renault6.68.1225,271299,364-24.8
Dacia1.71.856,69865,270-13.1
GM Group8.18.5277,736315,376-11.9
Opel / Vauxhall6.67.3227,590270,240-15.8
Chevrolet1.51.250,00644,945+11.3
GM (US)0.00.0140191-26.7
FIAT Group6.37.4217,434271,741-20.0
Fiat4.55.3154,071197,036-21.8
Lancia / Chrysler0.80.727,21627,582-1.3
Alfa / Romeo0.81.127,19440,010-32.0
Jeep0.20.17,4694,716+58.4
Others (2)0.00.11,4842,397-38.1
BMW Group5.75.3196,098196,123-0.0
BMW4.64.3157,041157,827-0.5
MINI1.11.039,05738,296+2.0
DAIMLER4.94.3168,003159,821+5.1
Mercedes4.33.8148,940139,144+7.0
Smart0.60.619,06320,677-7.8
TOYOTA Group4.64.5156,616167,816-6.7
Toyota4.34.4148,085161,481-8.3
Lexus0.20.28,5316,335+34.7
NISSAN3.83.5130,907129,920+0.8
HYUNDAI3.32.8114,571101,865+12.5
KIA2.31.779,97464,208+24.6
VOLVO CAR CORP.1.91.863,75768,109-6.4
SUZUKI1.31.443,55752,525-17.1
MAZDA1.11.238,84744,912-13.5
JAGUAR LAND ROVER1.10.838,28528,364+35.0
Land Rover0.90.631,38421,972+42.8
Jaguar0.20.26,9016,392+8.0
HONDA1.11.336,79749,401-25.5
MITSUBISHI0.70.923,98733,805-29.0
OTHER**1.61.254,89245,583+20.4
(1) VW Group: VW ‘other’ include Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini
(2) FIAT Group: FIAT ‘other’ include Dodge, Ferrari, Maserati
(**) ACEA estimates
Note: EU figures exclude Malta

Best-Selling Car Manufacturers in Europe for Q1/2012

During the first quarter of 2012, the VW Group continued its dominance of the West European new car market with an increase in market share of almost 2% to nearly a quarter of all new passenger vehicle registrations.

Sales for the other large vehicle manufacturing groups in Europe were lower. French manufacturing groups PSA and Renault, as well as Italy’s Fiat, were all sharply lower. Sales for Ford and GM were also down.

Japanese car manufacturers mostly struggled while Korean manufacturers Kia and Hyundai continue to make inroads into the West European car market.

Top 20 Best-Selling Car Brands in Europe for Q1/2012

The 20 top-selling car brands in Europe during the first three months of 2012 were:

Q1/2012% Change
1VOLKSWAGEN431,901+1.0
2FORD282,933-6.3
3OPEL/VAUXHALL227,590-15.8
4RENAULT225,271-24.8
5PEUGEOT217,461-18.3
6CITROEN190,331-15.5
7AUDI179,629+4.2
8BMW157,041-0.5
9FIAT154,071-21.8
10MERCEDES148,940+7.0
11TOYOTA148,085-8.3
12SKODA131,422+3.0
13NISSAN130,907+0.8
14HYUNDAI114,571+12.5
15KIA79,974+24.6
16SEAT69,880-13.7
17VOLVO63,757-6.4
18DACIA56,698-13.1
19SUZUKI43,557-17.1
20HONDA36,797-25.5

Of the top 20 best-selling car brands in Western Europe, only Volkswagen, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz managed to increase the number of cars sold during the first quarter of 2012.

Volkswagen, the top brand in the VW Group, continues to do well in Europe. In a declining market, Volkswagen increased unit sales during the first quarter of 2012, and took another 1% of the overall market. Weak sales of Peugeot and Citroen saw the Volkswagen brand alone outselling the combined PSA Group product line.

Renault performed even worse with Fiat and Honda sales also very weak. Opel (Vauxhall in the UK) continues to struggle with the shine also fading from Dacia – Renault’s discount brand that caused a stir with the launch of cheap cars a few years ago.

German luxury car manufacturers and premium brands Mercedes-Benz and Audi saw solid growth with BMW sales flat in anticipation of the newly launched BMW 3 Series. Peugeot also hopes to revive its fortunes with the launch of the new Peugeot 208 in April.

The Volkswagen Golf remained the best-selling car model in Europe with its replacement expected by the end of 2012.

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in online writing. His best-selling cars website has been reporting car sales statistics since 2008 with classic car auction prices focusing on the most expensive automobiles sold at public auctions in the past decade. He also owns the travel websites European-Traveler.com and Lake Geneva Switzerland. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Finance from the University of London.