West European car registrations fell by 7.7% year‐on‐year (YoY) in January. With new binding EU emissions regulations coming into effect at the start of 2020, January suffered the consequences of a pull forward in registrations into December 2019, as OEMs looked to avoid a portion of vehicles from being included in the 2020 CO2 calculations. The selling rate for the region fell to 13.4 mn units/year in January, compared with 15.3 mn units/year in December.
In Germany, sales fell 7.3% in YoY terms, though the selling rate remained robust at 3.5 mn units/year. For the UK, sales were also down 7.3% YoY in January, hit by lacklustre economic growth and uncertainty over future emissions policy direction. Spanish sales fell 7.6% YoY, breaking the trend of the previous four months of growth, while Italian registrations saw a 5.9% YoY fall. In France, adjustments to the ‘malus’ tax on new vehicles led to its own pull forward sales in December and subsequent drop in January 2020, YoY.
We continue to expect 2020 full year volumes to be impacted by weakening economic growth and some disruption from the binding EU CO2 targets, retaining a forecast of 14.0 mn units for the year.