West European car registrations fell by 8.3% year‐on‐year (YoY) in November, a disappointing result which tipped Western Europe slightly into negative territory in year to date (YTD) terms. The selling rate improved to 13.3 mn units/year in November, compared to October’s 12.6 mn units/year, but it is somewhat concerning that the pace of recovery appears to be slowing after the WLTP‐induced slump earlier in the autumn.
In Germany, registrations were down 9.9% YoY, as the selling rate picked up, but not as strongly as hoped, to 3.2 mn units/year. Spain recorded a sharp YoY fall of 12.6%, even though the selling rate continued to gradually climb from its previously depressed level. The Italian market also declined YoY, by 6.3%, with the selling rate edging up to 1.9 mn units/year.
UK car sales declined by 3% YoY in November, a modest drop compared to some of its neighbours, but with YTD sales still down by 6.9% YoY, there is little cause for celebration. In France, sales were down 4.7% YoY in November, but the selling rate continued to recover, reaching almost 2.1 mn units/year.
Following a slower than expected end to 2018, we see 2019 Western European growth at a little over 1%. There remains scope for improvement in a number of markets, including Spain and Italy, though economic headwinds are likely to curtail the latter country’s stalling car market recovery.