Fleet News

Skoda still reigns supreme in ‘volatile’ Euro market

NEW car sales in Eastern and central Europe are increasing – with Skoda continuing its reign at the top of the charts.

Countries covered in the findings are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Skoda has a market share of 15.5%, with other manufacturers, including Renault, Fiat, Opel and Toyota, performing well across the region.

The figures were revealed in analysis of the market produced by vehicle information company Jato Dynamics.

It found that the car market for the region is up by 3.5% year to date, to 732,012 units, despite a fall in the third quarter.

A Jato spokesman said: ‘Despite a volatile car market and an uncertain economy, Poland is still comfortably the region’s largest market.

‘This year, more than 255,000 new cars were registered there to the end of September, compared with about 150,000 in Hungary and 105,000 in Czech Republic, both down on the same period in 2003.

However, there is a worrying trend in Poland, which has grown since EU accession in May, of consumers eschewing new cars to import used ones from Western Europe, threatening to undermine the regional car market.’

The findings show that unlike the Western European market, the lower-medium segment is ‘thriving’ in Eastern and central Europe.

It says increased wealth has prompted people to trade up from the smaller and cheaper models they had previously driven.

Jato said: ‘As a result, the category has grown by 7.7% year-to-date over the same period last year.

Dacia is strong in this segment of the market, where its Solenza not only leads but has grown by 70.4% year-to-date.’

In the upper-medium sector across Eastern and central Europe, the Skoda Octavia is described as the ‘runaway’ success, selling about three-and-a-half times more than the next best, the Toyota Avensis, which has itself had a sales increase of more than 47%. Skoda also leads the premium upper-medium sector with its Superb.

Sales of executive cars are also increasing with the Audi A6 leading the way followed by the Mercedes-Benz E-class. The biggest sales growth came from the BMW 5-series, up 79.1%. The study says: ‘The high-luxury segment has seen a significant decline of 19.17% year-to-date, with the Audi A8, BMW 7-series and Mercedes-Benz S-class, which hold the top three positions, all falling.’

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