Europe is seeing some interesting trends in new car purchases. The relocation of car production has enabled manufacturers to cut costs by moving to countries where manufacturing is cheaper.

This is part of the commercial game encouraged by globalisation, which creates winners and losers. This 'game' explains why Eastern Europe has played an increasingly important role in car production over the last two decades, to the detriment of lesser leadership in the West.

The role of the Czech Republic

The changing landscape of car production in Europe has placed the Czech Republic at the forefront. Although it is a small market (220,000 units in 2023) and a small country in terms of population (only 10.5 million inhabitants), it is the fourth largest car producer in Europe, behind Germany, Spain and France. However, these three markets are much larger than the Czech Republic in terms of population. In fact, the total number of vehicles produced per 1,000 inhabitants was 134 in 2023.

Where the 10 best-selling cars are produced in the Czech Republic - graphic

This is probably why most of the most popular cars in the Czech Republic are produced locally. According to data from JATO Dynamics, seven of the ten best-selling models between January and April 2024 were produced in Czech factories.

After all, as Skoda is a local brand and produces most of its cars in Czech factories (86% of its overall production in 2023), it's normal to see these results.

Germany holds up well

Despite the changing economic situation in Europe, Germany remains an important production centre. Last year, 49 new cars were produced for every 1,000 inhabitants. There is a symbiosis between German car manufacturers and the economy itself, and although it is quite expensive to produce cars in Germany, production is a key part of the country's economy.

The Top 10 from January to April 2024 shows that six models were produced locally: Volkswagen Golf, Tiguan, Passat, Opel Astra, Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. An indicator which shows that conditions are still good for car production in Europe's largest economy.

Germany Top 10 from January to April 2024 Production location
Volkswagen Golf 43,438 Germany
Volkswagen T-Roc 23,250 Portugal
Skoda Octavia 17,294 Czech Republic
Volkswagen Tiguan 16,708 Germany
Volkswagen Passat 16,518 Germany, Slovakia
Opel Astra 17,397 Germany
Seat Leon 13,243 Spain
Audi A4 13,225 Germany
BMW 3 Series 13,146 Germany
Opel Corsa 12,288 Spagna
Spain Top 10 January to April 2024 Place of production
Dacia Sandero 10,489 Romania, Morocco
Toyota Corolla 8,199 Turkey, United Kingdom
Seat Arona 7,453 Spain
Nissan Qashqai 7,323 United Kingdom
Seat Ibiza 7,319 Spain
MG ZS 6,725 China
Renault Clio 6,668 Turkey, Slovenia
Peugeot 2008 6,096


Italy and France are getting closer

It's no surprise that the Italian industry has fallen on hard times in recent decades. When Fiat, the country's largest carmaker, absorbed most of its local rivals (Lancia in 1969, Alfa Romeo in 1986, Innocenti in 1990, Maserati in 1993), Italy was left with just one major local manufacturer.

The lack of competition at a time when European markets were not as economically integrated as they are today made Fiat less competitive and more dependent on state funding. When foreign competition became evident, the company began to lose market share. In the January-April 2024 Top 10, only one model, the Fiat Panda, was produced locally. In 2023, only 15 cars were produced per 1,000 inhabitants.

Where the 10 best-selling cars in Italy are produced - graphic

France is not far behind. The Peugeot 208, Renault Clio and Dacia Sandero are produced abroad, while the seventh model in the January-April 2024 Top 10, the Peugeot 308, as well as the eighth, the Toyota Yaris, and the tenth, the Toyota Yaris Cross, are produced locally. If this continues, France could soon find itself in the same situation as Italy.

France Top 10 January to April 2024 Production location
Peugeot 208 36,854 Slovakia, Morocco, Spain
Renault Clio 31,031 Turkey, Slovenia
Dacia Sandero 29,178 Romania, Morocco
Citroen C3 22,114 Slovakia
Peugeot 2008 18,261 Spain
Renault Captur 16,021 Spain
Peugeot 308 14,883 France
Toyota Yaris 11,881 France
Dacia Duster 11,056 Romania
Toyota Yaris Cross 10,917 France

The author of this article, Felipe Munoz, is a specialist in the automotive industry at JATO Dynamics.