Fleet News

Asian marques gain popularity in Europe

THE popularity of Asian marques across Europe is growing, latest new car sales figures show.

Market share for the top five Asian brands - Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Mazda and Honda - has increased 1.8% to 13%, when compared to the same period last year.

In total, new car sales are down by 1.6% so far this year, although the figures for February shows a 0.6% increased, compared to the same month in 2003.

Vehicle information company JATO Dynamics said last year's overall top seller, the Peugeot 206, regained its top position over the Golf and Peugeot 307 as Europe's most popular car while Renault overtook VW as the leading brand, followed by Ford, Peugeot and Opel/Vauxhall.

A spokesman added: 'The lower-medium segment decline continues, down 9% on 2003 for the first two months of the year. The roll-out of the new VW Golf across the European markets is starting to have some effect though, up 10.8% on the same month last year.

'The upper-medium segment also maintains its downward trend, slipping 7.67% year to date, but the Toyota Avensis performed strongly, up 165% YTD against 2003.'

Mini-MPV sales continue to increase, the company said, up by 34.6% for February and 29.9% YTD.

'The Renault Scenic takes the largest share of the sector with the new model helping to strengthen its position with an increase of 49.8% year-to-date,' the spokesman said.

The BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK are helping fuel a rise in sports car sales, although JATO describes this segment's growth as steady.

Its research shows that the product-led growth of the high luxury segment in 2003 appears to have ended with volumes now down 18.9% year-to-date.

The spokesman said: 'The Mercedes-Benz S-Class leads the category but it is only the Jaguar XJ that shows any real sign of ongoing success with a massive increase of 302% year-to-date.'

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