Compared to last September, sales were up by 1.7% on year-earlier levels at 1.35m units. This result partly reflects a recovery in consumer confidence but, more importantly, highlights the effects of widespread manufacturer incentives aimed at buoying demand.
Markets in Italy, Spain and France made notable gains in year-on-year terms. Spanish sales were very strong and hint that sales to consumers and businesses may be strengthening. Results in Italy were also impressive where the hangover from the end of a government incentive scheme is being quickly dissipated. The mildly positive French result is also of interest as it comes in a year when sales have been quite depressed thus far.
The UK market was still strong but down on year-earlier levels. Buoyant consumer demand is almost offsetting losses in large company fleet sales. A downward adjustment looks inevitable but predicting the timing will be difficult, especially if manufacturers respond to an anticipated fall in sales with better deals.
The slow and steady recovery in Germany continued in September. Initial estimates show a 1.7% rise in sales to just over 270,000 units in Europe's largest market.
The model renewal process, which has seen the average age since launch of available new cars fall steadily to a near-term low coupled with the ever-present consumer appetite for the most modern designs and technologies, is also helping generate new car sales in Europe. And low interest rates are making for still cheaper purchases.