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Scrappage scheme boosts European new car sales in January

Scrappage scheme deals continued to tempt Western European car buyers to showrooms in January continuing the positive trend from December and pushing the market 14.9% higher than a troubled January 2009.

The figures from JATO Dynamics, the automotive data and intelligence company, showed that once again, most buyers were tempted by the Volkswagen Golf, closely followed by the Ford Fiesta. These two models increased sales by 19.8% and 21.4% respectively, versus January 2009.

David Di Girolamo, head of JATO Consult, said: “In a reverse of 2009, these figures show a good start to what could be an uncertain year in sales terms.

“Brand and model sales performances look good compared to the difficulties of last January, but scrappage schemes are certain to end this year, despite recent extensions that will surely affect the current growth trend.”

The UK Government recently announced a one-month extension to its national scheme – until March 2010 – and schemes continue in Spain, Italy and France.

By contrast, Germany, the one major Western European new car market to have closed its scrappage incentive scheme, was down 4.3%, versus January 2009.

Central and eastern Europe continues to struggle, with markets across this region down significantly versus 2009 and showing no sign of recovery. The regional picture is even bleaker when the Russian market is taken into account, which JATO revealed recently to have almost halved last year.

Di Girolamo said: "The new car sales outlook remains very uncertain. Some 141,000 more cars were sold last month than in January 2009, but the market remains unstable and we can take little comfort from these positive figures."

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