West European car registrations fell by 8.5% year‐on‐year (YoY) in August. The YoY contraction was inevitable due to the distortion in the market in August 2018 caused by sales being pulled forward ahead of the implementation of WLTP emission tests on 1st September 2018. However, the selling rate jumped to 16.9 mn units/year in August, from 14.3 mn units/ July.
The German market continues to defy a weakening economy with outstanding car sales once again in August. Volumes were down only 0.8% YoY, as the selling rate soared to 4.3 mn units/year - the second highest result in the last decade. The UK saw a similar spike in the selling rate, towards 3.1 mn units/year, as sales fell by 1.6% in YoY terms.
In France, sales fell 14.1% YoY in August, but the selling rate surged to 2.6 mn units/year. Italy saw a YoY decline of 3.1%, while the selling rate leapt to 2.2 mn units/year. A 30.8% YoY contraction in the Spanish market was the most dramatic fall in Europe, but the selling rate still rose towards 1.4 mn units/year, the second highest reading in the last 12 months.
Western European sales have decreased 3.6% YoY in the year to date (YTD). However, the rest of the year should see the monthly YoY comparisons turn positive, which we believe will enable 2019 to achieve modest full‐year growth of 0.2% YoY. The reason for this is the low base effect produced by weak sales from September to December 2018, when some OEMs’ failure to obtain timely homologation under WLTP led to the unavailability of some models.