208 tips Golf off perch after 14 years

Ethel Walsh

The European new car market recorded another year on year decline in 2022. According to Jato Dynamics data for 30 markets (EU26 plus UK, Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland), volume was 11,309,310 units, down 4.1% year on year and the lowest since 1985.

Last year, the market registered 674,000 fewer units than in 2020 – when the Covid-19 pandemic hit – marking a decline of 5.6%. Compared with 2019, volume was down 29% with 4.5m fewer new vehicle registrations.

JATO global analyst Felipe Munoz said: “Shortages of new vehicles at dealerships, inflation, and the energy crisis, all proved to be major challenges for the already troubled market last year. The fallout of the pandemic, followed by the semiconductor shortage throughout 2021 and 2022, was only compounded by
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent energy price increases, impacting consumer confidence and spending.”

Chinese OEMs gained ground

While they continue to play a minor role in terms of market share, Chinese brands – excluding Volvo, POLESTAR, Lynk & Co, (part of Geely Group) but including MG – made significant progress in 2022. Among all car groups, these brands gained
the most market share, with registrations jumping from 66,100 units in 2021 to 152,400 units last year.

Combined, Chinese brands outsold established manufacturers including Mazda, Suzuki, and Jaguar Land Rover. MG enjoyed a volume increase of 116% to almost 114,000 units, outselling the likes of Jeep and Honda.

DR Automobiles, an Italian company which sells rebadged vehicles manufactured by Chery in Spain and Italy, outsold Smart and Subaru with an increase in registrations of 197% to almost 25,000 units. MG and DR vehicles accounted for 91% of the volume registered by all Chinese brands. BYD, Hongqi, Maxus, NIO, DFSK, and Aiways all registered over 1,000 units.

Munoz: “A competitive product offering and reasonable sales targets are allowing Chinese brands to make inroads into the European car market. The next step is to build awareness and encourage the shift away from the negative sentiment that has historically disuaded some consumers from buying Chinese products.”

HyundaiKia and Toyota shone

Hyundai-Kia and Toyota also perfomed well in 2022. The former saw an increase in volume of 3.8% to 1.05m units, closing the gap with Renault Group which took third position in the OEM rankings. Kia was the main contributor to these results, outselling sister brand Hyundai. The latest generations of the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson proved popular with buyers, outselling SUVs from other leading manufacturers such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Peugeot 3008 and Nissan Qashqai.

Toyota’s results were owed largely to the successful first full year of the Yaris Cross – Europe’s fourth best-selling B-SUV. The Japanese carmaker secured a record second position in the ranking by brand, outsold only by Volkswagen.

Tesla keeps climbing

Tesla’s market share soared from 1.43% in 2021 to 2.06% in 2022, outselling Seat, MINI, and Suzuki, while trailing Nissan by 4,300 units. This growth was driven by the Model Y, Europe’s best selling electric vehicle with just over 138,000 registered units. The fully electric SUV was Europe’s 13th best selling car in 2022 and, as expected, the increasing popularity of the Model Y came at the expense of the Model 3 – Europe’s 17th most registered vehicle in 2021.

Stellantis, Suzuki, and Volkswagen decline

In contrast, OEMs like Stellantis, Suzuki, and Volkswagen Group saw their market share decline in 2022. The most significant drop was felt by Stellantis – down from 20.23% in 2021 to 18.22% in 2022.

Registrations fell 14% to 2.06m units – the largest decline among Europe’s 10 largest OEMs by volume. All four major brands under the Stellantis umbrella (Peugeot, Opel, Fiat, and Citroen) recorded double-digit drops due to supply issues arising and the availability of key vehicles such as the Peugeot 2008 and 3008 – alongside aging vehicles such as the Jeep Renegade, and Fiat 500X.

Peugeot 208 dethrones VW Golf

2022 marked the end of the Volkwagen Golf’s reign as Europe bestselling car. The hatchback has been the most popular vehicle in Europe since 2007.

Munoz: “The success of the Golf is owed to the fact that it was able to meet the needs of a wide range of consumers without leading in any given parameter. But times change, and today consumer priorities are quite different from some years

In addition to challenges with software, Volkswagen faced a new wave of internal competition with increasing appetite for SUVs, and the growing popularity of its siblings, the T-Roc, Tiguan, Karoq, Ateca, and more recently the Formentor. While not direct rivals, these vehicles sit near the Golf in terms of pricing. The Peugeot 208 emerged as the beneficiary of these challenges.The last time Peugeot led the
European market was in 2007, with the 207.

Model ranking

The Golf fell from first to fifth place in the general ranking by model between 2021 and 2022. The Dacia Sandero was Europe’s second most registered vehicle, holding its position achieved in 2021 thanks to continued strong demand in France. The Volkswagen T-Roc, Europe’s best-selling SUV, secured third place and was followed by the Fiat 500 which again performed well thanks to its electric version.

Other notable performers included the Hyundai Tucson which entered the top 10 with over 150,000 units as the best- selling C-SUV; the Kia Sportage also impressed thanks to the new generation; the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka saw a volume increase (+34%) becoming Stellantis’ third best-selling SUV with the new generation; Peugeot increased registrations of the 308 (+80%); the Cupra Formentor
(+68%) outsold any Seat; Renault registered close to 82,000 units of the Arkana; Volkswagen registered 67,400 units of the Taigo during its first full year on the market. Dacia registered 55,300 units of the Jogger while its sibling, the Spring, registered 48,800 units (+77%); the MG ZS saw its volume increase from 27,700 in 2021 to 46,100 units in 2022; Bmw registered 41,100 units of the 4-Series (+36%); Hyundai registered 37,600 units of the Ioniq 5, ahead of the Cupra Born with
32,400 units, and the Polestar 2 with 32,300 units (+68%).

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