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The Ford Fiesta has become Europe’s best-selling car, beating the Volkswagen Golf into second place in both March 2010 and year-to-date sales, according to latest figures from the world’s leading provider of automotive data and intelligence, JATO Dynamics.

In total, 68,630 Fiestas were sold in March 2010, a 25.8% rise in sales, vs. March 2009 and 11,785 more than Volkswagen’s second-placed Golf.

Year-to-date, Fiesta is also ahead, selling 140,496 to Golf’s 135,048, reversing the picture from Q1 2009, but continuing a pattern where Fiesta has closed the sales gap to Golf through 2010.

Fiesta’s achievement is even more impressive considering Golf sales also increased during last month and the year’s first quarter. Fiesta sales simply outpaced Golf, with its move to pole position particularly due to its strong March sales in the UK (+14.7%) and Italy (+87%), where 57% of all Fiestas sold (11,251) were LPG-powered.

By contrast, Golf’s traditionally strong home market, Germany, continued to struggle, losing 106,590 sales overall, vs. March 2009 (- 26.6%).

“What may appear to be a sudden change in fortunes is actually a continuing trend,� explained David Di Girolamo, Head of JATO Consult. “Fiesta has been closing the gap to Golf through 2010 and there are a number of factors behind this. The buoyant sales markets so far this year are those where Fiesta is popular and are also scrappage-influenced markets, driving purchase of small cars. In the UK, March marked a registration change and the final month of Britain’s scrappage scheme, while in Italy, March was the last month of 2010 in which scrappage sales could be registered.

“The last time Fiesta was ahead of Golf in European sales was March 2009, so it remains to be seen whether it can hold top position this time round.�

The encouraging news for the wider industry will be the net 9.8% uplift in March sales across Europe (+9.6% YtD), with Germany the only major market not posting a sales increase for the month.

Model Performance
Fiesta’s move to the top of the table is the result of success in key markets, notably Great Britain, where it sold 34% of all March models (23,681 sales).

By contrast, Fiat has seen a drop in March sales for its Punto and Panda, largely due to significantly reduced sales in Germany (-88% and -80% respectively).

Volkswagen Golf sales have continued to grow, but the strongest markets are not those where Golf is most popular. It was the only one of Germany’s top five cars to increase sales in March (+12.5%), and grew by 24.3% in the UK, but was outsold here 2:1 by Fiesta, year-to-date.

Most improved in the month’s top ten was the new model Opel/ Vauxhall Astra, which saw a 42.9 overall March sales rise, aided greatly by a 75.9% uplift in the UK, where it was the third best-selling car.

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