West European car registrations fell by 8.5% year‐on‐year (YoY) in December. The selling rate dropped to 12.8 mn units/year in December, compared to 13.3 mn units/year in November. Full‐year registrations across Western Europe were down 0.7% YoY, with a total of 14.2 mn units sold, the first YoY decline since 2013.
In France, 2018 closed with a disappointing 14.5% YoY fall in December, but the market still grew 3% for the full year, to deliver its best annual performance since 2011. The German market was down 6.7% YoY in December, resulting in a contraction of 0.2% in 2018. Italy saw a 2% YoY increase in December sales, but this was not enough to prevent a 3.1% full‐year decline.
December’s Spanish sales were also down YoY, by 3.5%, but Spain was still the pick of the major West European markets in 2018, growing by 7% YoY. In the UK, sales fell 5.5% YoY in December; it was the worst‐performing of the ‘Big 5’ markets in 2018, with a 6.8% YoY decline.
With very little momentum being carried into the New Year, we now see 2019 Western European sales growing by just 0.8% YoY. This assumes that a ‘no‐deal’ Brexit is avoided – otherwise Western European sales could fall again in 2019. France and Spain are expected to be the primary contributors to 2019 growth; in contrast, Italy is expected to see another YoY decline.