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European new car market sees largest increase since 2009

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New car registrations in the EU increased 14.6% in June compared to 2014, marking the largest monthly increase since December 2009.

(ACEA EU registration data)

June also marked the 22nd month in a row of growth, according to industry association ACEA.

All major markets significantly supported the overall expansion, with Spain (+23.5%), France (+15.0%), Italy (+14.4%), Germany (+12.9%) and the UK (+12.9%) posting double-digit growth. Across the region, new passenger car registrations totalled 1,364,009 units.

In the first six months of 2015, new passenger car registrations increased 8.2% surpassing seven million units (7,169,984).

All major markets posted growth, contributing to the overall upturn of the EU market over the period.

Registrations in Spain (+22.0%), Italy (+15.2%), the UK (+7.0%), France (+6.1%) and Germany (+5.2%) increased compared to the same period one year ago

ACEA more than doubled its 2015 EU car market growth forecast a week ago. ACEA is now forecasting it will grow 5% this year, versus an earlier prediction of 2%.

Commenting on the figures, automotive intelligence provider IHS Automotive warns the influence of the two extra calendar days should not be underestimated, and explains why growth rates went into double-digit territory in many markets – but the market put in a very robust performance even once this calendar effect was factored in.

IHS Automotive's Carlos da Silva said: "In trend terms, the EU has been on a positive path for months now and this first semester performance has been one of the most robust growth wise for a long time too.

“June is an end-of-quarter month meaning it is typically stronger than normal: dealers (and OEMs) work with quarterly targets and made their possible to reach or pass said targets (often by rushing registrations as much as possible).

“Usually, strong promotions and commercial operations take place on such months.

“This was the case this June with quite convincing effects as, for once, private buyers seemed to react.

“In countries like Germany or France, where Individual buyers had been quite shy (to say the least) so far, a neat improvement was witnessed in this respect.

“This is all good news if this trend continues, above all this much awaited comeback from private buyers."

Da Silva said the market's recovery is still fragile, even more so as a result of the ongoing turmoil in Greece.

“The deal that appears to have been reached over Greece's debt restructuring appears to make a Greek Eurozone exit look less likely, but the situation is fluid.

“Therefore it is a fact that the level of uncertainty and risk has increased substantially in the recent week.”

As such IHS Automotive considers that some hints of fear and/or relative destabilisation might be visible in the car sales numbers in the very short term – mostly in August and above all September given that we are following registration numbers.

“Yet we assume the impact should be limited and will not derail the general growth trend (the case of the Greek market itself is of course different). If there is a major setback during the current negotiations and the various votes in the national parliaments (which could trigger a dramatic turnaround in consumer and business confidence), we anticipate that Europe should keep on its positive rhythm, maybe only slowing down a little in the coming months.”

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers' Association, said: “The growth in the European car market demonstrates that European economies are experiencing a gradual recovery from the economic downturn. 

“It shows European consumers are feeling more confident as their employment prospects improve and household budgets come under less pressure. We are hopeful this trend will continue as European economies grow and make up for the lost sales of the recession years.”

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