European new car sales continue on their path of recovery. However, as the Abwrackprämien-fuel tank ran dry in Europe’s growth engine Germany, the party may come to a halt in October.
In September, European passenger car registrations increased by 6.3 percent, compared to September 2008. A total of 1,388,136 new cars were registered in all of Europe last month, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) reports today. Nine months into the year, registrations of new cars in all of Europe are still 6.6 percent lower than during the same period of 2008.
European new car registrations had reached their lowest point in January 2009, when new car sales were 27 percent below the same month in the prior year. Many European states enacted cash-for-clunker schemes, which helped turning the tide. New car sales grew steadily after January, and reached positive territory in June.
Growth has slowly but steadily accelerated in Europe ever since. September’s 6.3 percent amount to the highest growth number this year.
The West European market increased by 9.6 percent, the largest jump since 1999. Germany remained the best performer with +21 percent in September, less than the 28.4 percent growth recorded in August. For the first nine months of 2009, only three countries – Germany (+26.1%), Austria (+6.7%) and France (+2.4%) – saw their markets expand. Elsewhere in Western Europe, the meltdown ranged from minus 5.9 percent in Italy to a disastrous loss of 79.5 percent in Iceland. In the first nine months, 10.3 million new cars were registered in Western Europe, down 4.8 percent from the same period a year ago.
The new EU member states are still a basket case. Poland (+7.9 percent) and the Czech Republic (+0.5%) were the only ones posting growth in September. From January to September, new car registrations in Eastern Europe are down by 28.7 percent. The vast majority of markets declined sharply, ranging from -22.3 percent in Slovenia to -80.2 percent in Latvia. Nine months into the year, Slovakia (+19.7 percent), the Czech Republic (+8.0 percent) and Poland (+1.7 percent) were the only expanding markets in Europe’s East.
On the market share front, Volkswagen Group is the unassailable leader in Europe with 21.3 percent market share for the first nine months of 2009. PSA Group follows with 12.7 percent. Despite its Opel problems, GM Group is holding its own with 9.1 percent market share. Fiat Group and Renault Groups are nipping at GM’s heels with a share of 8.8 percent each. Makers in the luxury segments see their European market share erode: For the first nine months, BMW holds only 4.7 percent of the European market, down from 5.5 percent the year before. Daimler went down from 5.3 percent in the prior year to 4.7 percent this year. In September, Daimler lost a full percent of market share compared to September 2008.
As the cash-for-clunkers scheme came to an end in Europe’s largest market, Germany, industry sources predict that Europe’s recovery will stall in October. German car dealers report 50 percent less traffic than in August.
For you number crunchers, September data are available in their Excel glory here. Due to unannounced reasons, Ford’s market share numbers are AWOL. ACEA promised to deliver them when available.