Golf leads sales at end of "better than expected" year

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The Volkswagen Golf was the best-selling car in Europe in 2009 according to new statistics released January 18, that also show a better year for European manufacturers than many predicted.

For the year, new car sales fell by only 0.7 percent compared to 2008 according to research from motoring analyst JATO Dynamics. As expected, the year's car buying ended on a December high for France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, mirroring similar results in the US.

The figures show a considerable geographical discrepancy, however, with car markets in Western Europe posting significantly better annual results than those of Eastern Europe, where demand remains weak. The large markets of Austria, France and Germany, the only markets to post a total sales increase over 2008, helped shore up the overall figures. Amongst the worst performers, Latvia and Lithuania ended 2009 down 72.9 percent and 66.2 percent respectively. Some commentators now fear that the end of scrappage schemes in Western Europe could lead to a drop in sales.

"It will be fascinating to see how this picture changes through 2010, as consumers react to the changing economic conditions. A good 2010 will depend on European markets emerging from recession quickly, so consumer spending does not fall too sharply without incentives," said David Di Girolamo, head of JATO Consult.

The best-selling European car maker of 2009 was Volkswagen, which shifted 1.64 million vehicles on the continent this year, up 5.6 percent from 2008. This figure was helped by the strength of Golf sales, Europe's best-selling model by a margin of almost 100,000 units. The Golf VI was named World Car of the Year 2009 back in April and recently won the "Small Family Car of the Year" award from the UK's What Car? magazine. It has also been a good year for the second-placed model, the new Ford Fiesta, which saw a 44 percent jump in sales compared to 2008. The Peugeot 207 and Renault Clio were in third and fourth place respectively.

The Top Ten European Cars of 2009
Data from JATO Dynamics

1. Volkswagen Golf: 571 838 (+23.9%)
2. Ford Fiesta: 472 091 (+44.0%)
3. Peugeot 207: 367 160 (-9.7%)
4. Opel/Vauxhall Corsa: 351 807 (-2.5%)
5. Fiat Punto: 323 536 (+15.9%)
6. Renault Clio: 312 925 (-6.8%)
7. Ford Focus: 309 134 (-15.1%)
8. Fiat Panda: 298 914 (+33.8%)
9. Volkswagen Polo: 282 780 (+2.4%)
10. Opel/Vauxhall Astra: 275 638 (-14.1%)

(Numbers refer to units sold and figures in parentheses refer to percentage change from 2008.)

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