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At Nationwide Vehicle Contracts we know which makes and models are the most popular with our customers when it comes to the car leasing in the UK, but does this follow with car sales figures? And how do these compare with the rest of Europe.

We decided to investigate and put our findings into an infographic to help show which are the Europe’s biggest car buyers and what they buy.

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These figures are based on the car sales of the top 10 manufacturers from January to June 2012 and provided by JATO Dynamics/Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and Auto Express magazine.

Who are Europe’s biggest car buyers?

Our infographic focuses on the 13 top countries in Europe and shows that there’s a huge variation of car sales between them.

The number one country for car sales in 2012 is Germany, with 1,227,628 sales for a population of 81,726,000.  They dominate this with a significantly higher amount than second-placed Russia, which sold 960,365 cars in the same period, even though their population is much greater.

France is third, with 850,360 cars and the UK comes in at the fourth spot. This year so far we’ve bought 729,512 cars. Italy is fifth highest, with just over half-a-million sales (557,931).

The difference between the top five and the remaining eight countries is marked, with Spain registering 285,182. After this the populations do drop away, so it’s no surprise that the car sales figures for them are lower. The Scandinavian and eastern European countries are prominent here: Sweden (106,952); Czech Republic (73,834); Denmark (60,861); Norway (51,163); Finland (48,622) and Slovakia (24,826).

And given the current economic crisis in the country, it follows that Greece has the fewest car sales out of the 13 top countries, with just 22,091 in the first half of 2012.

Top manufacturers

In Europe as a whole it’s Volkwagen who dominate, with total car sales of 779,940. This is due to the fact that in 11 European countries it is the number one selling manufacturer. VW even beats Seat into third place in Spain, such is their dominance across the board.

And in the UK it is Ford’s car sales of 150,378 that award it the number one spot, with Vauxhall, VW, Audi and BMW taking the rest of the top five positions.

Best selling car models

It’s a double-win for the biggest manufacturer Volkswagen, with the VW Golf being Europe’s biggest selling car model with 39,811 sold in January to June this year. The Opel Corsa is second-favourite, with 29,490 and Volkswagen scores another highlight with the Polo being third biggest seller.

The rest of the top five is made up of the ford Fiesta in fourth place with 26,430 and Renault’s Megane with 23,692.

Are you surprised with these results? Let us know what you think below by commenting, plus feel free to share our infographic with your friends to see what they think.