More than 10m cars were registered in the top five European markets in 2015 according to research.
Car data company Jato found that registrations in the five biggest markets in Europe reached 10,386 in 2015, an increase of 8.8% from 2014.
Germany led the way with 3.2m units, up by 5.6%, although the lowest annual increase among the five countries, while UK saw a 6.3% growth to 2.6m units.
France came third with 1.91m vehicles registered, posting a 6.8% gain over 2014 full year results with Italy and Spain posting the biggest increases at 15.6% and 20.6% respectively.
Volkswagen was the best-selling car brand with 12.1% market share and registrations up by 5.2% in 2015, the lowest positive growth in the top 10 brands, followed by Ford with 7.9% market share - a drop from 8% in 2014.
Renault outsold Opel/Vauxhall and became the third best-selling brand in the European Big 5 and Renault, Mercedes and Fiat were the only brands in the top 10 to post double-digit growth.
“Traditionally the five largest markets count for three quarters of total European volume and their positive results are an indicator of how well the car industry performed in 2015,” commented Felipe Munoz, marketing analyst at Jato Dynamics. “The brands that benefited the most from this fact were those that added new SUVs to their product ranges as this was the segment to drive the biggest part of the growth.”
The Volkswagen Golf led these markets by occupying first place in Germany, third in Spain, fourth in the UK, ninth in Italy and eleventh in France. Last year the Golf’s registrations stalled and grew only by 0.5%, resulting in a drop in market share from 3.99% in 2014 to 3.69% in 2015.
The Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Renault Clio, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Peugeot 208 and the Ford Focus followed the long-standing European leader.
The Nissan Qashqai, Fiat Panda and Renault Captur completed the top 10.