IN A EUROPEAN MARKET showing the earliest signs of recovery, Volkswagen's dominant Golf has held onto the number one sales position for May 2009, according to figures from automotive intelligence analysts, JATO Dynamics.
While the European new car market is down 13.1 percent year-to-date, May's figures show a 2.4 percent improvement from the previous monthâ€™s figures.
In an astonishing performance, the Golf continued its domination of sales charts with sales up 32.1 percent on the same month last year.
It would appear that the 'scrappage schemes' introduced into a number of European markets, are providing considerable sales traction, with the German market up 39.7 percent up on May 2008 â€“ a 20.3 percent improvement over last month's figures - and in France, new car registrations are up 11.8 percent on May 2008.
According to JATO Dynamics: â€œIf Germany provides a template for the other markets where scrappage schemes have been introduced, we may be at the very beginning of a period of recovery in Europe,â€ David Di Girolamo, Head of JATO Consult, said.
Aside from the 'gang-busting' Golf, small cars generally are performing best in the tough economic conditions.
Ford's Fiesta continues to bolt out of European showrooms with sales up 56.0 percent in May, while the Fiat Punto, Fiat Panda and Volkswagen Polo have all increased sales compared to the same month last year.
The Ten Ten models, as provided by JATO Dynamics, are:
Of the top ten performing brands, Volkswagen is still top-dog, up 9.3 percent over May sales last year, but down 2.0 percent year-to-date.
Ford, performing strongly in the circumstances, is in second position, while Opel/Vauxhall have regained third position from Fiat (perhaps surprising considering the question marks over the immediate futures of GM's Euro brands).
Peugeot, down 17.2 percent YTD, sits at number five.
The most encouraging news with the May sales data is that the European market would appear to be showing the 'first green shoots' of recovery.
Besides Germanyâ€™s strong performance, Poland is up both in May and year-to-date, up 4.5 percent and 2.1 percent respectively; Austria is up 4.8 percent compared to May 2008, France up 11.8 percent, Greece up 5.1 percent and Slovakia up 23.7 percent.
It is early days, sure, but perhaps the worst of the crisis is now in the rear-view mirror.
(Data provided by JATO Consult, www.jato.com)