West European car registrations fell 1% year‐on‐year (YoY) in April. The selling rate rose slightly, to 14.3 mn units/year in April, from 14.1 mn units/year in March.
German sales fell 1.1% YoY in April, which was enough to tip the year to date (YTD) position into negative territory (‐0.2%, YoY). Overall, though, German demand appears to be holding up well in the face of a sluggish economy. UK sales were down 4.1% YoY in April, as the market remains in the doldrums amid economic uncertainty.
French registrations grew 0.4% YoY in April, continuing a theme of unremarkable sales figures. The selling rate dropped to 2.1 mn units/year. In Spain, seven consecutive months of YoY decline came to an end, with an increase of 2.6% YoY, though for the first four months of the year, sales are still down 4.5% YoY. Similarly, Italy delivered its first YoY gain of 2019 in April, with car registrations growing by 1.5% YoY, as the selling rate climbed to 1.9 mn units/year.
April saw a slight improvement in the selling rate across most of Western Europe, but the relative stagnation in sales indicates that demand is not yet at the level required to put the region on track for solid growth. That said, there are some indications that macroeconomic conditions are looking more positive, with Italy exiting recession, the threat of a no deal Brexit more distant, and signs of a potential trade deal between the US and China. Overall, we still see a slight improvement in West European sales for 2019 as a whole, to the tune of 0.2% YoY.