By on February 6, 2019

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass - Image: Jeep

While North American conversations about the auto industry usually center around the public’s swing away from cars, Europe’s doing all sorts of of swinging these days. There’s a battle raging between cars and light trucks, sure, but also between propulsion types.

Once dominated by diesel, Europeans are shedding oil burners in favor of cars powered by gasoline and electricity. What’s hot these days? Not cars, but crossovers sure are. Jeep deserves recognition for its market share gains. And EVs? Buyers picked up 47 percent more of those last year.

In its breakdown of European auto trends in 2018, JATO Dynamics looked at which brands collected market share at a faster clip than the rest. Top of the heap was Jeep, now firmly ensconced in Italy. The plucky, go-anywhere brand grew 56 percent in 2018, pushing its European market share from 0.69 percent in 2017 to 1.07 percent last year.

Jeep has the popular Compass to thank for the growth, and it’s no wonder the brand wants a Fiat-based “baby Jeep” to plumb the low end of the market. The Compass sold 75,000 units in Europe in 2018. Compared to more well-known brands in the region, Jeep outsold both Land Rover and Honda last year.

While the number two through four spots aren’t brands we see here, their biggest sales drivers would look familiar to Americans — as they’re all crossovers. Even the company with the fifth-strongest market share growth, Volkswagen, can thank the compact T-Roc crossover (143,000 units in 2018) for its market share of 11.2 percent. Sales of the brand’s utility vehicles rose 61 percent last year, accounting for 24 percent of new VW registrations.

The introduction of the Eclipse Cross and continued popularity of the Outlander saw Mitsubishi rise to its highest European sales since 2007. Meanwhile, Hyundai saw a record year, with sales of its new Kona subcompact crossover (67,300 units sold in 2018) pushing it over the top.

Indeed, a list of the models with the fastest growing market share, when places beside a list of those with the fastest dropping share, it’s clear where European buying preferences lie. The fastest-growing side is entirely crossovers. All 10 of them. The fastest-falling side? All cars, among them the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Kia Rio, and VW Golf. You won’t recognize this continent after the crossovers are done with it.

Looking at the broader picture, it’s clear the damage done by dieselgate continues to be felt. With the fuel going from hero to zero in the wake of the scandal, lawmakers pulled U-turns. Now, cities want to rid their streets of the oil-burning bastards — by draconian measures, if necessary.

Sales of diesel vehicles in Europe fell 18 percent in 2018, with the fuel’s take of the market shrinking to 36 percent. Just a few years ago, it enjoyed a majority share. Gasoline-powered cars now take up 57 percent of new buys. As for EVs, they’re on the upswing, with growth of 47 percent in 2018 — better growth, it should be noted , than hybrids (up 24 percent) and plug-in hybrids (up 22 percent).

In total, the green trifecta amounted to 6.1 percent of all vehicles sold on the Continent last year.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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13 Comments on “Market in Flux: Europe’s Vehicle Landscape Is Changing Fast...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    Sounds like FCA needs some Jeep hybrids. Then Jeep can go from the brand of liberation to the brand of DOMINATION.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      Not to pick on Ford,but they have a long history in Europe and a broad product range, and currently around a 6% market share. 1% for Jeep doesn’t sound like much, but looking at their narrow range and recent arrival (and I would presume smaller dealer network), it’s quite an accomplishment.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      Throw a 7 slot grille on the Pacifica and lose the sliders—-BOOM! 2% market share!

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Outside of Norway, European EV sales went from 5 to 10 in a single year; a 100% increase – woo hoo. Just wait until the governments realize they lose $8 per gallon in tax revenues for every EV purchase they subsidize.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    AmErIcAnS aRe DuMb, EuRoPeAnS sTiLl BuY wAgOnS aNd HaTcHes- some stupid Jalop

  • avatar
    Guitar man

    The “Jeep” Compass is a stretched Renegade, based on the Fiat Punto.

    EU models are imported from India. The other plants are all Fiat factories in south america.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      North American Compass is built in Toluca— the Chrysler plant that built PT Cruisers.

      Toluca is in Mexico. Your SA/third-world inference is a hilarious joke and will win you friends. Keep doing that.

  • avatar
    Garak

    Diesel’s long-expected decline started around 2007, when Germany created the first “environmental zone” restrictions on diesels. Sure, sales stayed still strong, but the growth stalled. People knew that the game was up even before dieselgate struck.

    Diesel fuel price has also gone up recently. There’s very little reason to buy an oil-burner anymore, it might become an unsellable liability in a couple of years.

    The crossover takeover’s also not a surprise. As people are getting older and fatter, and many have back pains due to decades of working with computers, a tall and easy-to-enter vehicle is a much better alternative than a regular car.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Germany dominates the auto market, and VW expects to dominate the battery-electric market. Unfortunately, Germany also plans to shut down its coal-fired electricity generating plants that produce two thirds of their electricity, expecting wind and solar to make up the difference. If I were a European, I’d keep a gasoline powered car for the coming time when the stucco hits the fan.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Shutting down the coal plants would be totally sensible, if they hadn’t been shutting down the nuclear plants too. I don’t know how you get to net-zero carbon without nuclear. Vermont will say they’re doing it, but that’s only possible because of imported hydropower—i.e. Vermont gets closer to its climate goal by pushing a neighbor further from theirs.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “I don’t know how you get to net-zero carbon without nuclear.”

        I agree!

        You’d need Hydro, GeoThermal, Wind, Solar and Wave in any combination to make an attempt to get there, but nuclear is the most dependable backstop, once fossil has been outlawed by AOC and her followers.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Yes, during my last trip to Europe in October I’ve noticed that diesel fuel price is on par with gasoline. Periferal EU countries still enjoy very strong diesel sales. First of all, they don’t have big budgets to encourage hybrid or electric car sales, however I did notice very few RAV4 hybrids and even a Lexus 450h. This was in a decent size town of 250,000 people. The used car imports from the core EU countries to the outskirts is still diesel. In the core EU countries, diesel is slowly dying no doubt.

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