Growth in new car registrations continued across European markets for the twelfth consecutive month in August despite the summer lull and a weak French car market, with European markets up six percent in the eight months to the end of August.
Data compiled by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) showed that July saw growth across all the major European economies, with the exception of France. Italy grew sales 5.5 percent year-on-year, Germany 6.8 percent and Spain 11.1 percent. The UK continued to show similar levels of growth to Germany with registrations up 6.6 percent.
August, when the continent is often on a holiday hiatus, saw some declines in the major car buying economies, Germany for example shrank by 0.4 percent and Italy 0.2 percent. Despite this registrations across all 28 EU member states grew 2.1 percent, helped in part by the strong rises in both the UK (9.4 percent) and the 13.7 percent rise in Spain.
France’s political and economic troubles showed in the decline of the market in both July and August. July registrations dropped 4.3 percent on the year before and August 2.6 percent. This meant that the French market had only grown by 1.6 percent in the eight months to the end of August, which compares to a rise of 3.5 percent for Italy, 2.6 percent for Germany, 16.4 percent for Spain and 10.1 percent for the UK.
The lack of growth in France now puts the French car market nearly 225,000 vehicles behind the UK for the year to end of August and now firmly the third largest car market behind the UK and Germany, a major change from its position as the second largest as recently as January 2012 when French registrations topped 147,237 compared to UK sales of just 128,853.
Winners and Losers
Other markets also continued to show weakening registrations. Austria’s sales declined 4.6 percent in the first eight months of the year compared to the year before, and with only 21,121 vehicles registered in August the decline accelerated to 8.4 percent for the month. Belgium also failed to break its downward spiral of registrations in August. The month saw 4.1 percent fewer cars registered compared to the year before (28,613), meaning the market in the eight months to the end of the year fell 0.8 percent compared to the year before.
Countries that experienced the worst of the Euro crisis, however managed to show some of the strongest growth. Ireland’s registrations have grown 30.1 percent in the first eight months of the year to a total of 89,273. Greece has grown 21.4 percent to 48,789 and Portugal 35.7 percent to 97,699.
July was a similar story as Austria and Belgium declined, by 4.2 and 0.5 percent respectively, while Portugal (36.6 percent) Ireland (30 percent) and Greece (22.5 percent) all grew.
The total number of vehicles registered across the EU in August was 669,395 and in July 1,041,683. Total registrations for the year to the end of August were 7,862,216.
The August ACEA figures confirmed the Volkswagen Group as the leader in market share across the EU with its brands responsible for 28 percent of all registrations in August. VW badged cars alone were the single biggest selling brand in the EU, with a 14 percent market share. This was up 14.1 percent in volume terms on the year before, to a total of 93,568 cars registered across the EU in August.
Within the group koda saw the strongest growth in August, up 21.3 percent to 34,355 units from 28,331 in August 2013.
Peugeot Citroen’s parent company the PSA Group turned around its fortunes in August and retained the second largest market share, with total sales up one percent year-on-year to 65,448 units. The company has now expanded its registrations 4.1 percent in the year to the end of August. The Peugeot brand was largely responsible for the strengthening growth, with Peugeot sales up 6.1 percent to the end of August, to 914,265 cars registered across the EU.
Despite a fall of 2.8 percent (to 33,814) in the volume of cars registered in August, Renault’s growth remained the strongest of the volume car manufacturers in 2014. Its registrations to the end of August were up 16.6 percent to a total of 817,562 units. This was largely helped by strong figures from the budget brand Dacia which grew 30.2 percent in the same period.
Among luxury brands Jaguar Land Rover continued to show strong growth with the Land Rover Marque proving particularly popular. Land Rover’s registrations leaped 30.7 percent in August to 4,052 vehicles. In the year to the end of August the brand had registered 72,073 vehicles, a rise of 7.1 percent on the year before.