SMM News: in May 2019, new car registrations in the European passenger car market rose slightly (up 0.1 per cent from a year earlier) after eight consecutive months of decline, according to data released by the European Association of Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA). A total of 1443708 new cars were sold. Demand for new cars in Europe is mainly driven by countries in central Europe, where new car registrations rose 6.2 per cent last month from a year earlier. By contrast, the results of the five mainstream markets in western Europe were mixed, with Spain (down 7.3 per cent from a year earlier), the UK (down 4.6 per cent from a year earlier) and Italy (down 1.2 per cent from a year earlier). Germany and France grew by 9.1 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively.
In the first five months of this year, new car registrations in Europe fell 2 per cent from a year earlier to 6935028, while new car registrations in all four of the EU's top five markets, with the exception of Germany, fell slightly.
In terms of brands, the best-selling brands in Europe in May included Lexus, whose registrations rose 26 per cent year-on-year; brands such as BMW (up 15 per cent year-on-year), Seattle (up 15 per cent year-on-year), Citroen (up 14 per cent year-on-year) and Toyota (up 11 per cent year-on-year) also recorded double-digit growth.
Alfa Romeo, by contrast, fared worse, with sales in Europe tumbling 49 per cent last month from a year earlier, while Nissan fell 18 per cent year-on-year, Jeep down 13 per cent, Renault down 10 per cent and Volkswagen down 8.6 per cent year-on-year.
Among luxury brands, Audi and Porsche fell 1.7 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively, while Jaguar even fell 11 per cent, compared with 0.2 per cent for Mercedes-Benz and double-digit growth for BMW (up 16 per cent year on year), Volvo (up 16.3 per cent year on year) and Lexus (up 24.4 per cent year on year).
The slight increase in new car registrations in May was the first increase in the European passenger car market in nine months. Sales of new cars in Europe have been in the doldrums since August, including the formal implementation of the WLTP in Europe on September 1 last year, concerns about Brexit and slowing economic growth. Weak sales have further led to a decline in profits. At the same time, carmakers face multiple challenges such as escalating trade tensions between China and the US and the huge spending required to move to electric vehicles.
With the European Union expected to tighten regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from cars next year, the rebound in sales last month is likely to be a flash in the pan. Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said in a report last month that unless the European auto industry makes more improvements in carbon dioxide emissions, it will face a fine of 33 billion euros. The new regulations will force carmakers to sell more electric and plug-in hybrid cars, which currently have lower profit margins than internal combustion engines.