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The United Kingdom has become Europe’s second-biggest car market behind Germany, bumping France down into third spot following strong sales in November.

Industry journal Automotive News Europe reports the latest new-car sales figures for November and for the year to date highlight the economic difficulties some nations across Europe are facing.

Sales in the UK rose 11.3 per cent in November to 149,191 units, contributing to total sales of 1.92 million vehicles for the first 11 months of the year – up 5.4 per cent over 2011. Meanwhile, France’s November sales fell 19.2 per cent to 144,694 units for a 2012 total of 1.73 million vehicles, down 13.8 per cent.

Peugeot 308

Europe’s number one market, Germany, saw a three per cent reduction in sales in November to 260,000 with yearly figures falling two per cent to 2.88 million units.

So far in 2012 the Ford Fiesta (pictured top) has been Britain’s best selling car, with its bigger sibling, the Ford Focus, taking top honours in last month’s totals.

Europe continues to prove challenging for vehicle manufacturers this year with several companies forced to cut jobs and restructure its operations due to financial pressures including Peugeot, Opel and Ford.

  • O123

    Australia really punches above its weight in new car buying. 1 million plus in a market of 20 million versus Frances 1.72 million with a pop of 65 million. I’m not buying the “prices are higher due to smaller market” excuse.

    • filippo

      I think it has more to do with Australia’s woeful public transport infrastructure that forces families to have 2 cars.

    • $29896495

      I agree, it’s a crock. It’s simply profiteering. 

      How does bad public transport make cars more expensive? Below: The thing about cars, you have your group, like us, who love them, then the rest who need them for work or status or just plain transport. We’re a big country like the US, we NEED our cars.

    • Tex

      You should get yourself an atlas. Tell me how close Germany, France and UK are… then tell me where Australia is in the picture.

      Together the three biggest European markets have so far accounted for 6.53 million sales. Have a look where manufacturers have their factories located… Plenty of manufacturing happens in France (Renault, PSA), Germany (BMW, VW, MB, Porsche etc) and UK (Nissan, Honda, Opel/Vauxhall, Ford etc). Plus the surrounding countries Spain, Portugal, Skovakia, Belgium etc also produce vehicles.

      Yet in Australia we have just over 1 million sales. And we manufacture the Cruze, Commodore, Camry, Aurion, Territory and Falcon.  And you want to pay the same price here?
      Okay, glad that is clarified.

    • Wertjeadflg

      Bikes and scooters in France.

  • TGI

    why didn’tcar advice update the best car sale on the right hand side?

  • Zaccy16

    i wonder what the top selling car in france is?

    • Captain Nemo®™

       Definitely not a VeeDud Polio Zuppy
      The French love walking & exercise but only when it’s their choice.   

      • twincharger


        • Golfmother

          Nemo’s puppy .

    • MisterZed

      Renault Clio is the best seller in France. 2nd is the Citroen C3, followed by the Peugeot 208. In fact, 9 out of the top 10 over there are French cars.

      • Zaccy16


  • Luke Brinsmead

    Job cuts at Ford but they have the top two cars, now that’s ironic.

    • Golfmother

      Yep but unlike VAG they have not had their eye on the ball , profits are way down in europe , as are the frenchies , poor work practises , bloated staff numbers .

      • TheRealThomas

        Speak for two of the three French brands, no job cuts at Renault. PSA is in trouble though.

  • Tony Abbotts No 1 fan

    Interesting that Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai & Kia are all out of the top ten sellers in Europe. Now is that because the product from those manufacturers is not good enough, or, because Europeans are more inclined to support locally manufactured vehicles.

    I know Ford & Opel/Vauxhall are subsidiaries of US car companies, so dont jump down my throat.

    • Tex

      I think it is because you wouldn’t buy a Japanese car for the same price as a European.
      I know if I was living in the UK I would buy a Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus or VW Golf before I bought a Corolla for the same price.

    • Wertjeadflg

      Massive protectionism. Otherwise many of the Italian and French car companies would have folded a long long time ago. In the free markets (where the buyers are allowed to choose the car they buy) such as the US, Aus and Cdn, no one wants to buy FIAT’s, Alfa’s, Lancia’s, Renaults, Citroens, etc due to obvious reasons.

      • Tony Abbotts No 1 fan

        Obvious reasons….& what would they be? 

    • F1orce

      Actually in the U.K. If you combine Japanese & South Korean brands together you’ll see that they’re #1

    • F1orce

      And in the U.K for November last month you’ll find that Nissan is at #6, Toyota #9 & Hyundai at #10

  • Car Fanatic

    It’s not just that. Used cars in Europe are much cheaper than new cars. Dealers here charge so much for used cars, it’s nothing to spend a few grand more to buy new.

  • Luke Brinsmead

    France’s economy doesn’t have enough liquidity, it’s all tired up in expensive real estate. Adding to that ailing industrial productivity and innovation.

  • Jacob

    Exactly. Europe has High Speed Rail, so people dont have to drive to get from Sydney to Canberra. But here, everyone is forced to drive.