LMC Automotive European Passenger Car Sales Update (April 2018)

2018/05/10

Summary

  • West European car registrations grew by 9.1%, year on year (YoY), in April. The selling rate for the region picked up from 14.1 mn units/year in March to 14.4 mn units/year in April.
  • Spain delivered the largest percentage YoY increase of the major markets, at 12.3%. The Spanish market is also notable for having seen double‐digit growth, of 11%, in the year‐to‐date (YTD). Germany also enjoyed a strong month, with the market expanding by 8%, as the selling rate moved towards 3.5 mn units/year.
  • France continued a run of robust results with a 9% YoY increase in April, while Italy also saw a solid YoY rise in April, of 6.5%, which returned the market to growth in YTD terms, albeit only to the tune of 0.2%.
  • For the first time in just over a year, the UK market saw YoY growth, of 10.4%, but this was due to base effects as sales fell in April 2017.
  • Given that seasonal effects were at work in a number of markets in April, our overall 2018 outlook for the West European market is little changed from last month, with growth of 1.8% foreseen. The introduction of the WLTP emissions and fuel economy tests, and any possible impact on sales due to taxation changes, is a risk to the forecast, and we will continue to monitor the situation as the year progresses.



Commentary

 

 Due to the timing of Easter, a number of markets enjoyed additional selling days in April, including Spain, Italy, France and the UK. This certainly helped the region towards its 9.1% YoY increase. Even accounting for the change in selling days, the West European selling rate rose to 14.4mn units/year, indicating that the market remains relatively healthy overall. In YTD terms, Western Europe is up 1.8% on the first four months of 2017, despite the troubles seen in the UK market.

 German registrations rose 8% YoY in April, though that was one of the market’s weakest months in 2017. The selling rate pushed upwards towards 3.5 mn units/year in April, a little below the average seen over the past year, but a very good rate nonetheless. France’s YoY increase of 9% outpaced Germany’s growth, boosted by an additional selling day. The result was the highest volume in April since 2010, and the selling rate of 2.2 mn units/year reflects a market in cruise control. The UK saw its first YoY increase in 13 months, of 10.4%, but this should not be taken as a sign of any great recovery in the market. Instead, it is the product of taxation changes made a year ago, which saw sales pulled forward to the first quarter of 2017, before a fall in April last year. The selling rate slipped below 2.4 mn units/year, and we still anticipate that the UK market will fall this year, despite a good chance of some YoY gains in the short term.

 In Spain, registrations surged by 12.3% YoY, although two additional selling days compared with April 2017 contributed significantly to this result. However, potential tax increases from January 2019 linked to the introduction of the new WLTP emissions testing procedure present the possibility of disruption to the Spanish market – perhaps a pull‐forward of sales to late 2018 followed by a drop in 2019 – if the government does not take action to adjust tax regulations accordingly. This is not a factor in Italy, where vehicle taxation is not based on CO2 emissions. In April, the market rose 6.5% YoY, but the selling rate dipped towards 1.9 mn units/year, the first time the rate has been below 2 mn units/year in 2018. Therefore it appears that April’s positive outturn was largely an effect of an extra selling day.

Western European Passenger Car Sales Update

Sales (Units) Selling Rate (Units/year)
Apr
2018
Apr
2017
Percent
Change
YTD
2018
YTD
2017
Percent
Change
Apr
2018
YTD
2018
Year
2017
Percent
Change
WESTERN EUROPE
1,224,680
1,122,254
9.1%
5,144,402
5,054,817
1.8%
14,423,818
14,723,007
14,300,656
3.0%
AUSTRIA
31,904
30,272
5.4%
122,619
118,967
3.1%
343,949
352,342
354,174
-0.5%
BELGIUM
54,602
51,132
6.8%
220,159
215,841
2.0%
545,508
552,893
546,558
1.2%
DENMARK
18,713
17,610
6.3%
75,644
77,545
-2.5%
222,569
230,537
221,810
3.9%
FINLAND
11,044
9,397
17.5%
45,450
42,524
6.9%
138,774
119,008
118,579
0.4%
FRANCE
187,396
171,876
9.0%
744,254
712,905
4.4%
2,174,576
2,181,120
2,110,751
3.3%
GERMANY
314,055
290,691
8.0%
1,192,666
1,135,363
5.0%
3,470,913
3,638,092
3,441,266
5.7%
GREECE
9,539
8,559
11.5%
34,507
28,208
22.3%
103,003
114,226
88,298
29.4%
IRELAND
8,102
7,841
3.3%
79,897
83,823
-4.7%
109,793
120,510
131,407
-8.3%
ITALY
171,379
160,919
6.5%
745,945
744,453
0.2%
1,941,122
2,006,132
1,970,811
1.8%
LUXEMBOURG
5,710
4,864
17.4%
20,006
18,205
9.9%
51,716
49,339
52,773
-6.5%
NETHERLANDS
34,290
29,183
17.5%
169,996
148,880
14.2%
468,460
444,967
414,625
7.3%
NORWAY
14,055
11,339
24.0%
47,854
49,580
-3.5%
158,623
143,030
158,650
-9.8%
PORTUGAL
21,430
18,834
13.8%
84,659
78,709
7.6%
256,638
245,178
222,123
10.4%
SPAIN
113,816
101,370
12.3%
454,126
409,264
11.0%
1,366,329
1,320,086
1,234,931
6.9%
SWEDEN
34,215
30,476
12.3%
121,612
119,874
1.4%
392,323
385,286
379,255
1.6%
SWITZERLAND
26,519
25,815
2.7%
98,608
98,584
0.0%
308,067
311,770
314,028
-0.7%
UK
167,911
152,076
10.4%
886,400
972,092
-8.8%
2,371,455
2,508,490
2,540,617
-1.3%
Notes:

Greece and Luxembourg: estimates for latest month.
Greece data source has changed to Sales from Registrations.
The percent change in the final column compares the average selling rate in the year‐to‐date with the last full year. The average of the seasonally adjusted selling rate for an entire year is by definition the total of sales in the year.