With an increase of only around 400 units year‐on‐year (YoY), or 0.0% to one decimal place, West European car registrations were virtually unchanged in May. Calendar effects helped the selling rate to increase from 14.4 mn units/year in April to 14.8 mn units/year in May.
Spain was once again a success story, with a 7.2% YoY increase in registrations in May, and a selling rate which remains firmly above 1.3 mn units/year. Meanwhile, France’s May sales were little different from the prior year, with a 0.2% YoY gain, but this can be considered a very healthy result, given that there was one fewer selling day in May 2018.
The German market fell by 5.8% YoY, but this was unsurprising given that May 2017 was a particularly strong month. Italy also saw a YoY decline in registrations, of 2.8%. In year to date (YTD) terms, the market is 0.3% down on the same period in 2017. The UK experienced a 3.4% YoY increase in sales in May, but remains on course for lower sales in 2018 than in 2017.
Our full year forecast for 2018 is 1.7%, marginally below last month’s 1.8%. There are increasing risks to the forecast arising from the upcoming transition to WLTP emissions tests, which could cause significant tax increases in some markets where taxation is linked to CO2 emissions. We will continue to monitor the market for signs of a pull‐forward in sales, which would imply a negative effect once any tax changes are implemented. Much will depend on governments’ policy responses to the implications of the new system, which are in many cases still unknown.