EU Vehicle Sales Grew in 2018

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Commercial vehicle registrations across the European Union grew 3.2 percent to 2.5 million in 2018, its sixth consecutive year of growth, while passenger car registrations edged up 0.1 percent to almost 15.2 million, the fifth straight year of growth, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.

ACEA concluded in a Jan. 16 press release that growth of passenger car registrations was so scant because of falling demand during the last four months of 2018.

Central European countries drove much of the demand, with new car registrations in those countries growing by 8 percent in 2018. Among the five major EU markets, Spain and France posted growth of 7 percent and 3 percent, respectively while registrations in Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom decreased 0.2 percent, 3.1 percent and 6.8 percent.

The number of commercial vehicle registrations was the regions highest since 2007, according to ACEAs report issued Jan. 24. Among large markets, Spain experienced the strongest growth in such registrations at 6.5 percent, followed by Frances 4.9 percent and Germanys 4.6 percent. Demand declined in Italy by 4.1 percent and in the United Kingdom by 1.9 percent.

ACEA divides new commercial vehicles into several categories, based on gross vehicle weight: light commercial vehicles – also known as commercial vans – up to 3.5 metric tons, including light buses and coaches; heavy commercial vehicles of 16 tons and over, excluding heavy buses and coaches; medium and heavy commercial vehicles between 3.5 and 16 tons, excluding medium and heavy buses and coaches; and medium and heavy buses and coaches over 3.5 tons.

New van registrations in the EU topped 2 million in 2018 for the first time since 2007, up 3.1 percent from 2017. Registrations in Spain grew 7.8 percent, while numbers in Germany and France rose 5.4 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively. Registrations in the category declined by 6 percent in Italy and 1.3 percent in the U.K.

More than 305,800 new heavy commercial vehicles were registered across the EU during 2018, an increase of 3.1 percent. The numbers in France, Italy and Germany grew 9.1 percent, 5 percent and 3.3 percent, while those in the U.K. and Spain fell 5.4 percent and 4.2 percent.

New truck registrations in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle category grew by 3.5 percent in region last year. Among the top five key markets, France again posted the highest growth for 2018 at 8.1 percent, followed by Italy with 5.1 percent and Germany at 2.9 percent. Demand last year for such trucks declined by 4 percent in the U. K. and by 2 percent in Italy.

Almost 42,000 new medium and heavy buses and coaches were registered across the EU in 2018, up 1.3 percent. ACEA noted that an 18.6 percent increase across Central European markets accounted for most of this growth. All major Western European markets contracted during 2018 in the category, aside from Italy, which posted a strong 36.7 percent increase for the year.

Automotive market research firm LMC Automotive forecasted in December that passenger car sales in Western Europe will rise 0.8 percent in 2019 to approximately 14.3 million units. This assumes that a no-deal Brexit is avoided – otherwise, Western European sales could fall again in 2019, LMC stated in its report. The firm expects France and Spain to remain the primary contributors to 2019 growth in sales, while Italy is expected to see another year of decline.

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