The European car market has experienced its highest number of first-half registrations this century, with registrations up 2.4% on 2017 to a total of 8.66 million cars.
These figures are despite a trough in diesel registrations. Diesels are down by 17% over the first half of 2017 to now make up just 37% of the car market in Europe – the smallest share since 2001.
The backlash against diesel has been highest in the UK and Norway, with 30% and 32% drops respectively. Slovenia’s diesel car market declined 28% and those of Finland and Belgium fell by a fifth.
As Europe turns to SUVs, registrations of all other segments of car collectively fell by 4% to 4.865 million, while SUV registrations grew to 2.92 million – a leap of 24%, taking the models to their highest market proportion in history.
The Volkswagen Group was the most prolific SUV manufacturer across the first half of the year, experiencing a 42% rise in its SUV registrations. It was bolstered by the new Volkswagen T-Roc, which has become the 32nd best-selling car in Europe, as well as one of the best-selling SUVs, despite having only recently been launched.
The Nissan Qashqai remains atop the SUV pack, however, climbing to fifth overall from sixth previously. The Volkswagen Golf remains Europe’s best-selling car, with more than a quarter of a million examples registered so far this year.
Europe’s top 10 best-selling cars in 2018 so far
1 - Volkswagen Golf, 257,550 registrations2 - Renault Clio, 185,2343 - Volkswagen Polo, 163,9244 - Ford Fiesta, 157,2865 - Nissan Qashqai, 134,5476 - Peugeot 208, 132,7647 - Volkswagen Tiguan, 129,2378 - Skoda Octavia, 123,7109 - Renault Captur, 121,23510 - Vauxhall/Opel Corsa, 117,981
The well-publicised decline of MPVs continued into 2018, with a 23% drop in sales compared with the first half of 2017. A total of 532,600 were registered in Europe, making 2018 one of the worst years for MPVs in a decade.
The UK was one of Europe’s weakest nations for overall registrations. Despite being one of the largest markets, a 6.3% drop over 2017 was posted. Romania, one of the smaller markets, had the largest growth, with a 33.4% year-on-year growth. Larger markets including Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden also posted growth, while Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Switzerland and the Czech Republic were the other markets to post declines.
Europe’s top 10 best-selling brands in 2018 so far
1 - Volkswagen, 988,507 registrations2 - Renault, 624,4433 - Ford, 573,2504 - Peugeot, 542,4335 - Opel/Vauxhall, 493,8026 - Mercedes-Benz, 460,0557 - Audi, 432,1918 - BMW, 428,1859 - Fiat, 405,51110 - Skoda, 398,650