West European car registrations fell 0.3% year‐on‐year (YoY) in May. The selling rate rose slightly, to 14.4 mn units/year last month, from 14.3 mn units/year in April.
German sales rose 9.1% YoY in May, and the year to date (YTD) position rebounded into growth (1.7%, YoY). The selling rate rose to 3.7 mn units/year, demonstrating the current strength of German demand, in spite of economic sluggishness. UK sales were down 4.6% YoY last month, the entire market remaining stuck in the grip of Brexit‐based uncertainty.
French registrations grew 1.2% YoY, with a selling rate of over 2.2 mn units/year – the highest level since the implementation of WLTP in September 2018. In Spain, sales plummeted 7.3% YoY, with the selling rate below 1.3 mn units/year. Registrations in the Italian market fell 1.2% YoY, however the selling rate rose (albeit at a glacial pace) to 1.94 mn units/year.
May’s figures suggest a contradiction — on the one hand, Western Europe selling rates look fairly healthy so far this year; however, YTD volumes are still down some way. YTD 2019 compares to a particularly strong period in 2018 though, and as we move into the latter part of this year, those YoY comparisons should look somewhat better given the weak WLTP‐distorted end to 2018. However, demand is not accelerating enough to put the region on track for significant growth in 2019. The risks associated with a “no deal” Brexit and trade tensions further weigh on demand; however Germany’s resilience has been notable.