LMC Automotive European Passenger Car Sales Update (June 2018)

2018/07/09

Summary

  • West European car registrations increased by 4.6% in year‐on‐year (YoY) terms in June, although the regional selling rate fell back from 14.8 mn units/year in May to 14.6 mn units/year in June.
  • France delivered an outstanding result in June, with the highest volume of sales for any month since March 2011, and a gain of 9.2% in YoY terms. The Spanish market continues to be in a growth phase, with June’s registrations up 8% YoY.
  • German new car registrations were up 4.2% YoY in June, and for the first half of the year are 2.9% up on the same period in 2017. There was more disappointing news from Italy, however, where registrations were down 7.3% YoY, although a high base effect will not have helped. In the UK, sales declined by 3.5% YoY, although the selling rate was little changed at just under 2.4 mn units/year.
  • We have revised down our full year forecast for 2018 to growth of 1.5% YoY, with the weakening in the Italian market the principal contributor. The planned transition to the stricter WLTP emissions tests from September continues to threaten to disrupt sales, as some models are unavailable for purchase, while uncertainty reigns over possible taxation increases. However, our current expectation is that while there may be some shifting of the timing of purchases, overall volumes for the year should not be too greatly affected.



Commentary

 

 With additional selling days in several markets across the region, most notably in France and Germany, Western European sales increased by 4.6% in YoY terms in June. The selling rate slipped back from 14.8 mn units/year in May, to 14.6 mn units/year in June, compared to 2017’s total sales of 14.3 mn.

 Helped by an extra selling day compared with the prior year, the French market grew 9.2% YoY, in what is historically the strongest month of the year for car sales. Due to these favourable conditions, a strong month was expected, and though June’s selling rate decreased from 2.3 mn units/year in May to 2.2 mn units/year in June, it is still a solid outcome. Spain has enjoyed an upbeat first half of the year, with sales up 10.1% YoY in the year to date (YTD), and that trend continued in June, with an 8% YoY increase in registrations. However, June’s growth was driven primarily by businesses, while sales to private individuals increased by a mere 1.6%. In Italy, sales fell by 7.3% YoY, while the selling rate dropped to 1.86 mn units/year, the lowest rate in almost a year. Whilst June 2017 was a particularly strong month, it is possible that Italian consumers took a wait‐and‐see approach following the appointment of a new government at the start of the month.

 The German car market continued to show signs of cooling in June, with the selling rate falling to 3.4 mn units/year, following a very fast start to the year. However, sales still grew by 4.2% YoY in June, and are up 2.9% in the YTD, signalling that the market is still on track to reach 3.5 mn units in 2018. UK car sales declined 3.5% in June, in line with our expectation that the market will slip in and out of YoY growth over the coming months as the economy remains lacklustre. We continue to forecast full‐year sales of just over 2.4 mn units, which would be the weakest annual performance since 2013. Sweden’s car market grew a remarkable 72.9% YoY in June, distorted by tax changes introduced on 1st July which caused sales to be pulled forward to June.

Western European Passenger Car Sales Update


Sales (Units) Selling Rate (Units/year)
June
2018
June
2017
Percent
Change
YTD
2018
YTD
2017
Percent
Change
June
2018
YTD
2018
Year
2017
Percent
Change
WESTERN EUROPE
1,479,103
1,414,453
4.6%
7,936,129
7,778,633
2.0%
14,550,277
14,718,213
14,299,979
2.9%
AUSTRIA
38,113
35,562
7.2%
193,363
187,026
3.4%
365,123
359,417
354,174
1.5%
BELGIUM
56,211
55,119
2.0%
331,369
322,302
2.8%
567,577
571,319
546,558
4.5%
DENMARK
22,501
23,965
-6.1%
120,717
123,797
-2.5%
226,906
231,755
221,802
4.5%
FINLAND
11,652
10,867
7.2%
69,584
64,449
8.0%
141,098
126,407
118,575
6.6%
FRANCE
252,222
230,936
9.2%
1,188,181
1,135,256
4.7%
2,193,290
2,207,205
2,110,751
4.6%
GERMANY
341,308
327,686
4.2%
1,839,031
1,786,994
2.9%
3,398,106
3,580,880
3,441,266
4.1%
GREECE
11,540
9,991
15.5%
59,142
48,795
21.2%
112,628
112,356
88,298
27.2%
IRELAND
1,255
1,400
-10.4%
87,151
91,215
-4.5%
90,010
112,736
131,413
-14.2%
ITALY
174,702
188,363
-7.3%
1,120,379
1,137,053
-1.5%
1,856,226
1,972,898
1,970,184
0.1%
LUXEMBOURG
5,434
5,206
4.4%
30,458
28,946
5.2%
59,035
52,420
52,773
-0.7%
NETHERLANDS
47,117
40,785
15.5%
253,410
225,975
12.1%
454,016
446,909
414,670
7.8%
NORWAY
15,845
14,228
11.4%
76,745
77,983
-1.6%
184,389
151,822
158,650
-4.3%
PORTUGAL
26,162
24,854
5.3%
134,506
127,132
5.8%
221,839
239,782
222,034
8.0%
SPAIN
142,376
131,790
8.0%
734,646
667,458
10.1%
1,319,517
1,329,774
1,234,931
7.7%
SWEDEN
66,244
38,324
72.9%
225,543
193,523
16.5%
650,264
433,643
379,255
14.3%
SWITZERLAND
31,476
31,923
-1.4%
157,910
158,918
-0.6%
315,413
311,653
314,028
-0.8%
UK
234,945
243,454
-3.5%
1,313,994
1,401,811
-6.3%
2,394,844
2,477,236
2,540,617
-2.5%
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.