Data produced by marketing intelligence experts JATO Dynamics shows that the Japanese are 'slowly but clearly' growing market share at the expense of the established players in Europe.
In its study, the company said: 'This is happening not just as a result of rational factors like reliability and running cost but more attractive specifications than the competition.' Jato notes Toyota has worked to build its market share steadily in Europe, resulting in an increased penetration of the European market from 3.1% in 2000 to 4.4% in 2003, an increase of 42%.
Jato's study adds: 'It has stated that it expects to sell 860,000 cars in Europe this year, and 1.2 million by 2006. The combined market share of the leading five Japanese carmakers (Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda and Suzuki) has increased by 20% from 8.9% in 2000 to 10.7% in 2003.
'All of the big five have increased their individual market shares over the past 12 months, with the exception of Suzuki which has remained static.'
The study adds that this contrasts to the market share of the big five European/US car manufacturers, Volkswagen, PSA, Ford, Renault and General Motors, which has declined by just over a percentage point over the past 12 months from 65.5% in 2002 to 64.3% in 2003.