By on March 19, 2011

Alright, so we’ve gone to South America (Argentina,  Brazil), Africa (Libya) and Asia (North Korea). It’s now time to visit Europe, and why not start with Spain, a perilous but fascinating place at the moment.

If you can’t wait for the next update and want to know all about car sales in 154 countries around the planet, simply go here. Es mi blog y es impresionante, sí señor!

The Spanish car market was hit full frontal by the GFC: from 1,608,593 sales in 2007, it fell to 1,161,154 in 2008 (-28 percent) and 952,772 in 2009 (-18 percent). We thought the worst was over in 2010 when the market grew by 3 percent at 982,015 units…

Unfortunately, 2011 has been bringing really bad news so far, with car sales down 24 percent in January and 28 percent in February. Normally, Spain is the 5th biggest market in Europe behind biggies Germany, France, Italy and the UK. No more: In 2011 so far Spain was passed by the Netherlands and is threatened by Belgium, countries that have 3 and 4 times less inhabitants…

So this is for the context.

If you now look at the Spanish market by brand, this uncertain situation seems to have benefited the sole national manufacturer, Seat. Fourth best selling brand in 2009, it is #1 in 2010 at 89,392 sales and 9.1 percent of the market.

As you know manufacturers ranking is not mi taza de té, as I concentrate on models sales. However I trust you agree the context above is critical? Muchas gracias.

So in these troubled times, the Spanish consumer has been buying national more and more. And this shows in the models ranking, with the iconic Seat Ibiza the best-selling car in the country at close to 40,000 sales and 4.1 percent share in 2010.

The Ibiza nameplate is at its fourth generation and was originally launched in 1984. Over 4.5 million units of the Seat Ibiza have been produced in 26 years, making it by far the best selling Seat nameplate ever.

A smaller market often results in more volatility, and there have been a couple of interesting developments in the Spanish models ranking recently.

The Qashqai, a bold crossover launched by Nissan in 2007, had been progressively climbing the sales ranking in Spain as well as in many other European countries in the last few years. In 2010, Nissan had a great idea: while sales of the first generation were still growing, it replaced it with a facelifted model, giving it an impressive boost Europe-wide.

The Qashqai even broke into the overall European Top 10 last July. In Spain, it kept growing throughout 2010 to reach the first spot in December, taking advantage of a weak month for the Ibiza. It finished 2010 at an amazing 2nd place overall with over 30,000 sales and continued to improve its market share to 3.8 percent in January 2011.

So a very serious competitor for the Ibiza in 2011.

French manufacturers traditionally are extremely successful in Spain, and 2010 was no exception, with the 3 brands even sitting within 1,500 sales: Peugeot ranking 3rd(82,678), Renault 4th(81,558) and Citroen 5th(81,177).

Renault placed its new generation Megane on the third step of the podium in 2010 at 3 percent share, edging past the #2 of 2009, the Peugeot 207.

Another feature of the Spanish market is the prevalence of ‘compact’ cars. We saw the Qashqai and Megane leading the category in 2010, well six more compact models rank in the Top 12: the VW Golf is 5th, the Seat Leon 6th, the Opel Astra 8th and the Peugeot 308 9th, with the Citroen C4 and Ford Focus not far in 11th and 12th positions. That’s 8 compact cars in the 12 best selling models, in a region (Europe) traditionally fonder of smaller, cheaper ‘superminis’.

Spain’s Top 12 in 2010

Pos Model 2010 %
1 Seat Ibiza 39,905 4.1%
2 Nissan Qashqai 30,050 3.1%
3 Renault Megane 29,442 3.0%
4 Peugeot 207 29,046 3.0%
5 VW Golf 25,743 2.6%
6 Seat Leon 25,177 2.6%
7 Ford Fiesta 24,600 2.5%
8 Opel Astra 24,405 2.5%
9 Peugeot 308 24,329 2.5%
10 Opel Corsa 23,728 2.4%
11 Citroen C4 22,288 2.3%
12 Ford Focus 21,612 2.2%

So that’s pretty much all you need to know about the Spanish car market! Hope you enjoyed…

For my nerdy friends in the front row, you can check out the 2010 Top 80 best selling models in Spain here and the Top 60 for February 2011 here.

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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15 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Spanish Consumers Cling To National Icon In Troubled Times....”

  • avatar

    Hi Matt. Great article and very informative as usual. I though do have a thing for brands. What’s that picture like?

    Pls do keep up the good work.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks Marcelo!
      All right all right so the best selling brands in Spain are below. The ranking is very tight with the top 5 selling brands all fitting within less than a percentage point. There was a complete reshuffle last year, with Seat going from 4th to 1st, VW going from 6th to 2nd and Peugeot going from 5th to 3rd.
      Leader in 2009, Renault is now 4th. Citroen, 2nd in 2009, is now 5th and Ford, 3rd in 2009, is now 6th.
      It’s much quieter below, with Opel staying 7th, Toyota staying 8th and Nissan passing Audi to reach #9 thanks to the Qashqai (75% of Nissan’s sales).
      Top 10 Brands 2010:

      1. Seat 89,392 (9.1%)
      2. VW 83,356 (8.5%)
      3. Peugeot 82,678 (8.4%)
      4. Renault 81,558 (8.3%)
      5. Citroen 81,177 (8.3%)
      6. Ford 77,879 (7.9%)
      7. Opel 71,899 (7.3%)
      8. Toyota 48,785 (5%)
      9. Nissan 41,496 (4.2%)
      10. Audi 40,798 (4.2%)

      Top 10 Brands 2009:

      1. Renault 89,151 (9.4%)
      2. Citroen 87,862 (9.2%)
      3. Ford 83,856 (8.8%)
      4. Seat 83,792 (8.8%)
      5. Peugeot 81,716 (8.6%)
      6. VW 78,502 (8.2%)
      7. Opel 67,020 (7%)
      8. Toyota 54,328 (5.7%)
      9. Audi 40,145 (4.2%)
      10. Nissan 35,813 (3.8%)

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks Matt!

      Seems like Spanish still sore at Fiat for almost killing Seat!

      Interesting much less stable than Brazil (where the only action in company’s taking over each other is in bottom 5 of top ten – same for models where postions only change in the bottom 10 of top 20 models sold). Also much more competitive.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re right Marcelo…
      Fiat is only 14th at 23,714 sales, below BMW (32,494), Hyundai (30,724 and +78%) and Mercedes (28,723).
      It is threatened by Dacia (21,387 sales and +145%!) and Skoda (19,718 sales)…

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Matt,

      Thinking about your article yesterday, I had an insight. I’ll Put it to you to see what you think. I think that the fact (like you pointed out and that’s what got me thinking) the fact that there are so few superminis in the top 10 is due to the crisis. The crisis has kicked out lower income consumers from the market. I think it’s a situation similar to the one that happened in the mid 80s at the height of the malaise era in brazil.

      In 84, 85 or 86 our Chevrolet Monza (based on Opel Ascona) was leader for almost two whole consecutive years. Never before (well from the 50s when such numbers started to be collected) and never after (except for a few months w/Fiat Tipo, but that was abnormality due to taces, that mid-level car actually cost about same or even less than some superminis in Brazil). Ever since and ever before, some form of compact car (fromm Beetle to Gol) has dominated ranking in BRazil. Why? Because at that time market shrank so much, and credit became so tight, only people with cash could buy a brand new car!

      In Spain, the situation is probably not as dire. But owners of Puntos, Clios, Peugeots 206 and such have probably decided to keep thei car for an extra year. Only people with more money (and more secure of their future) would be buying. So the doctor changed his Megane, but his secretary decided to keep that 206 one more year.

      What do you think?

    • 0 avatar

      Marcelo, the ones I would expect in most top ten tables in EU are there: Corsa, Fiesta, 207, missing Polo, Punto and Clio. Being España, I guess the Ibiza replace the local one of other markets. Same goes for Golf, Astra, Focus, Megane… where I guess the competition is a cuchillo. I’d say B and C segments are like that.
      From what he’s saying I read that people just stopped buying cars as you mentioned. The belt must have tightened in all segments. I guess the GFC left them bien jodidos.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly my thoughts. Being Spain what it is (high unemployment, relatively lower income than say Belgium, Holland, Norway), I would have guessed the suprminis dominated top 10. Maybe in more normal years. I would think that a top 10 like this (dominated by B segment cars) would be seen for more affluent Euro countries.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Marcelo,

      Sorry for my late response.

      It is indeed striking to see so many B cars in the Top 12 and your explanation is very solid, but looking at the last couple of decades of sales in the country I have noticed that this is a constant characteristic of the Spanish market since the early 90s (when consumers bought a lot of Renault 19). Spain is one of the few countries in Europe to favour B segment cars over superminis… I guess it’s just a matter of habit and taste and not so much of purchasing power. Even with a high unemployment rate, the price of a car (including B segment car) in times of crisis doesn’t become out of reach for most of the Spanish population.

      As I go through more European countries you will see that on average the countries that favour superminis are actually not the ones that were most affected by the crisis, but the ones that have formed a habit of buying that type of cars, either out of cultural/national brand background (Italy for example) or out of practicality (Netherlands and Denmark where the quasi-totality of the population lives in cramped cities)…. A fascinating subject…

      Always great to read your though-provoking comments, please keep them coming!

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks Matt for your explanation. It makes sense. Great to read your articles and comments as I learn something everytime!

  • avatar

    There are plenty of lessons to be learned from Spain’s decline. First of all people need to learn that green energy jobs are only supported by subsidies from people doing real jobs, jobs that are killed off by green energy policies.

  • avatar

    And what does an American cowboy bull-rider have to do with Spain?

  • avatar

    “That’s 8 compact cars in the 12 best selling models, in a region (Europe) traditionally fonder of smaller, cheaper ‘superminis’.”

    That’s where the US is heading too; Gallup’s latest research puts US underemployment at 19.9%.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I guess they don’t make the Pegaso Z-102 anymore.

  • avatar

    Hi. I m from Spain.

    Sorry Marcelo, normally spanish doctors not have a “usual” Megane. Have another cars more expensive.

    I am going to them to explain normally like this destined sales by categories in Spain

    A- supermini (Citroën C1, Smart, Ford Ka, Renault Twingo) around 80% sales they destined to rent a car company

    B- mini (Ibiza, 207, Fiesta, Clio) normally they are more popular than supermini class. This cars (B segment) principal buyers are young people in versions 3 or 5 doors.

    *the Seat Ibiza succes (4th generation)also is due to an extensive range of bodyworks and the incorporation in 2010 of a station bodywork (Ibiza ST), that approaches the measures of a compact one

    C- compact. “Typical” Spanish buyers prefers to pay a little but by a great car but. In this segment he is very traditional a long time from the 80´s. Although the entrance of the stranger Nissan Qashqai (Really it is a SUV) is broken the category

    Another class cars also are more popular. The taxis has undergone a revolution with Toyota Prius, Taxi cars are traditionali Skoda Octavia, Seat Toledo, Peugeot 407 or Mercedes E class

    D – (sedans or called “berlinas”) Have succes normally for german cars Opel Insignia, Audi A4, Bmw 3 series… and Ford Mondeo, Toyota Avensis.

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