European registrations stable in April

17 May 2019

European registrations stable in April

17 May 2019

Europe’s new car market remained relatively stable in April, although a slight decline continues the continent’s struggles since September 2018.

In April, the passenger car market dropped by just 0.4% compared to the same period in 2018. 1,303,787 new cars were registered, according to the latest figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

Source: ACEA

Of the bloc’s big five markets, Spain saw the most growth, with an increase in sales of 2.6%, while Italy grew 1.5%. France remained stable with a 0.4% rise, while German sales fell 1.1% and the UK continued to suffer, registering a 4.1% loss.

Demand was driven by Central European countries, which posted a 4.6% increase during the month. Scandinavian countries suffered, however, with Sweden losing 11.6% of sales, while Finland fell 11.8% and Denmark dropped 13.5%. Norway also struggled, with sales declining 19.9% in the month.

Year-to-date

From January to April 2019, demand for new cars on the continent has decreased by 2.6% compared to the first four months of 2018, with around 5.3 million units registered.

The German and French markets have fluctuated all year and their figures to date remain almost flat, down 0.2% and 0.4% respectively. Registrations have declined in Italy by 4.6%, Spain by 4.5% and in the UK by 2.7%.

The European car market has struggled since the introduction of WLTP in September last year, with sales hit due to production stoppages and supply issues as manufacturers sought compliance for their models. Supply constraints eased and the backlog boosted registrations but it is believed that supply has now normalised, perhaps highlighted by the slight drop in April’s figures.

In February, ACEA stated that it believed new car sales would stagnate in 2019. Although 2018 was the fifth consecutive year of growth, the pace of growth has slowed down significantly over the last few years with a slight increase of just 0.1% in 2018 (compared to 9.3% in 2015). For this year, the body expects at best a stable EU car market, with a growth rate of under 1%.

Manufacturer roundup

While both PSA Group and Renault, Europe’s second and third largest manufacturers, grew their sales in April (1.5% and 1.8% respectively), it was a tough month for Europe’s leading carmaker Volkswagen Group. Sales dropped 3.7% across all the German manufacturer’s brands, with the coren VW marque falling 7.2% in April.

The strongest performer in the month, based on the volume of cars, was BMW Group, whose figures rose 7.7%. The core brand helped toward this with sales increasing 12.6%, offsetting a 10.6% loss at Mini.

Elsewhere, following a strong month in March, Ford’s sales fell again, dropping 4.8% as the company continues its plans for a model refresh and staff cuts. Honda saw sales fall 3.1% while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) contracted 2.9%.

The manufacturer with the biggest loss in the month was once again Nissan, whose registrations fell 16.7%. The carmaker is currently 24.8% down year-to-date as it struggles in the wake of the Carlos Ghosn scandal.