EU car registrations up @10 per cent in September

European passenger car registrations continued their growth phase with another strong monthly rise in September. According to ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association) figures, growth was up 9.8 per cent year-on-year to 1,356,868 units.

Robust growth in all the top-five major Western European passenger car markets, with Italy and Spain still recovering from historic low base comparisons, is said to be behind the most recent increase. For the first three quarters of the year, sales in the EU28 increased 8.8 per cent year-on-year to 10,413,675 units.

German registration were up 4.8 per cent (the slowest growth in the continent), while at the other extreme Spain’s registrations were up 22.4 per cent. Although some markets such as Italy have sat quite precariously in the recent periods, according to IHS analysts “it appears that for now the threat of Greece’s exit from the Eurozone has abated, and this at least has stabilised the region’s economic outlook in the short term”. The non EU28 countries – Iceland, Norway and Switzerland – posted a combined uplift of 9.8 per cent year-on-year which matched the overall growth rate recorded in the wider region.

Europe projected to hit 13.4 million registrations in FY2015

With this in mind IHS is looking at a full-year forecast for 2015 passenger car sales in the EU of 7 per cent to 13.4 million units which would mean a slight slowdown in growth recorded in the last quarter of the year, although this overall figure is still significantly down on previous highs.

Putting the figures into context, it is worth remembering that September marked the end of the third quarter and therefore there was the usual effort by OEMs and dealers to meet sales targets and pre-register as many cars as possible. In addition, there was the usual age-related plate change in the UK during the month which further bolstered sales and Spain continues to be fuelled by scrappage, although the funds are expected to be exhausted soon. Commenting on the wider conditions in the market Carlos Da Silva, manager for IHS Automotive’s European light-vehicle sales forecast said: “Of course these factors would not suffice if, generally speaking, the social and economic situation in Europe was not significantly better than it was before. This is undoubtedly the case when looking five or six years back. It still stands true even when comparing to last year. This is not to say that Europe (and the Eurozone in particular) has become a gold mine overnight. Yet economic tensions have reduced markedly: credit availability is improving, energy costs are subdued, even unemployment is pointing down. This all combines to broadly improve the Europeans sentiment: as a piece of evidence, customers confidence in the region has been at its highest level since 2007 for the past few months. Autos markets throughout the zone are quite normally benefiting from this environment.”

However, Da Silva is also quick to point out that the current positive picture is somewhat relative. Referring to the VW scandal, he added: “Of course Volkswagen itself will suffer in Europe (if only from reputational damage in the very first stage) and diesel in general, as a European specificity, will be hurt somewhat. Purchase behaviours, preferences, mixes…will certainly change faster than anticipated previously. But, as of today, we do not consider this can derail the market and pose a serious threat to its ongoing recovery.”

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