West European car registrations grew by a negligible 0.1% year‐on‐year (YoY) in September, despite one additional selling day versus the previous September. The selling rate broke its recent upward trend, slipping to 12.7 mn units/year, as inflated post‐lockdown activity made way for the sluggish economic reality. While YoY growth was very uneven across the region, the impact of further WLTP requirements last year limit useful comparison. However, despite various ongoing government incentive schemes, the general picture was one of disappointing selling rate results.
In Germany, the selling rate slipped to 3.1 mn units/year, down from 3.6 mn units/year the previous month. For the UK, sales dropped 4.4% YoY in September, with the selling rate down to 1.9 mn units/year in what is a key selling month for the market. Spain’s selling rate slipped back to 1.1 mn units/year, a disappointing result considering the incentive support, while Italian registrations were up 9.5% YoY last month, or a healthy 1.9 mn units/year. In France, the selling rate fell slightly, to just above 2 mn units/year.
The abrupt slowdown in the region’s selling rate signals recovery will be sluggish. The lack of growth last month means that the West European car market remains down by nearly a third so far this year. The 2020 forecast has been lowered slightly from last month, not least because of the disappointing UK result; the overall picture remains one of a heavy full year contraction.