West European car registrations fell by 5% year‐on‐year (YoY) in January. The selling rate rose to 14.4 mn units/year in January, compared to 12.8 mn units/year in December.
German registrations fell 1.4% YoY — however, the selling rate climbed to 3.8 mn units/year, the highest level since the WLTP deadline in September. Registrations in the UK fell 1.6% YoY, with the selling rate also making some headway following the recent September low.
Both France and Spain disappointed in January, with registrations down 1.1% and 8% YoY respectively. However, in both markets, this figure is skewed by particularly strong registrations in January 2018. Italian registrations fell by 7.5% YoY, with the contraction that was felt throughout 2018 continuing into the New Year.
Overall, in YoY terms, the region is clearly experiencing a slow start to the year. However, January 2018 was an unusually strong month and the latest selling rate of 14.4 mn units/year is somewhat better than those seen towards the end of 2018. We continue to assume West European registrations will expand for the full year. Conditions for private consumption growth should be supportive this year, helped by high employment and falling inflation. However, with the UK set to leave the EU next month, and no withdrawal agreement currently in place, a ‘no deal’ Brexit is clearly a threat to positive sales growth in the West European market this year. With an EU‐UK Brexit agreement eventually put in place, we forecast growth of +0.6% for 2019.