The European car market slowed for several reasons in May, recording only a 0.5% increase on the same period last year. Despite this, it is clear that the market is stabilising after a long period of strong growth.

Overall the market recorded positive signs, with May posting its highest volume since May 2007 and the YTD figures the highest for this century. On a country level, January – May 2018 constituted the strongest period for Germany since 2009 and Spain since 2007.

The slower overall progress can be attributed to the market stabilising following a long period of strong growth. SUVs bucked the trend seen in the rest of the market which showed signs of a deceleration of growth.

Volume for SUVs grew by 24.2% in May, whilst in contrast, all other segments registered a decline of 8.5%. SUVs were the best selling segment in 23 of the 27 markets analysed, only being outsold by subcompacts in Greece, Croatia, Romania and Portugal. The outstanding performance of SUVs in May is the continuation of a longer-term trend, with it marking the thirteenth consecutive month of double-digit growth.

In contrast to May 2017, the biggest driver of growth amongst the SUVs was the small SUV subsegment, which totalled 182,000 units, a significant increase of 37%. This strong performance can be attributed to the growth of both the segment leader – the Renault Captur and second generation Dacia Duster which recorded increases of 26% and 29% respectively. Other launches such as the Volkswagen T-Roc, Citroën C3 Aircross and Opel/Vauxhall Crossland also all recorded strong results.

Compact SUVs also contributed to the market’s performance, recording a total increase in volume of 23% compared to the same period last year, with 208,600 units registered. The Volkswagen Tiguan was Europe’s best selling SUV, closely followed by the Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008.