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The Renault Clio is Europe’s biggest selling car

Mark Nichol

30 Jun 2020

Renault’s supermini overtook the Golf in May to become Europe’s best seller, despite a huge year-on-year fall because of Coronavirus.

European car sales figures by Jato Dynamics show that the Renault Clio outsold the Volkswagen Golf in May to become Europe’s best-selling model. Having said that, both models suffered double digit sales decreases as a result of the pan-European COVID-19 lockdown.


The European car sales figures for May are just as grim as the UK ones – a month in which just 5134 cars were produced in the country, representing a 95.4% drop compared to May 2019. Still a huge improvement on April though, which saw just 197 cars produced while lockdown was in full effect.


The UK has been the worst hit market in Europe by some distance, with an 89% drop in sales year-to-date compared to the same period in 2019. For context, the second worst is Croatia, whose (relatively small) market has dropped by 76%. Germany has suffered a 50% drop, while Belgium and Austria have seen 32% and 34% dips respectively.


Still, as sales pick up the Clio is doing very well – this is the second month of 2020 that it’s topped the sales charts, having done so in February too. To give you an idea of the general sales dip, though, when the Clio topped the charts in February Renault sold 24,914 cars, just surpassing the Volkswagen Golf with 24,753.


This time around, however, Renault only needed to sell 16,028 to surpass the Golf, which sold 13,125. Both the Clio and the Golf are experiencing sales boosts because they’re relatively new models, the Clio released in mid-2019 and the Golf this year.


Registrations in Europe fell 57% in May year-on-year, with total year-to-date sales down 43% to the end of May. However, the electric car market is getting through relatively unscathed, with only an 8% drop in the first five months of the year. This reflects the fact that electric car sales are growing rapidly but from a relatively very small market share. As usual, the SUV segment is the most popular, accounting for 40% of sales, compared to just 0.2% in the luxury car segment, and still twice as many sales as the supermini (Ford Fiesta sized) class.


Felipe Munoz, global analyst JATO Dynamics, said: “Registrations volumes more than doubled in May, compared to the figures achieved in April. Despite the positive signs of recovery, a proportion of these registrations could correspond to sales that occurred prior to lockdown; therefore, we still do not have enough information to predict whether Europe will experience a “V” or a “U” shaped recovery.”

Mark Nichol

30 Jun 2020