European car registrations fall for first time in almost three years

Time 10:05 am, August 26, 2016

NEW car registrations in the 29 European markets analysed by JATO Dynamics dropped by 2.3 per cent in July, falling from 1.18 million in July 2015 to 1.16 million for the same month this year.

This fall in registrations marked the end of 34 months of continuous growth – the last time European registrations fell was August 2013.

The two fewer working days in July may have partly to blame, along with the significant decline of two of the largest European car groups, PSA and VW, who recorded 13.2 per cent and 8.8 per cent falls in registrations respectively.

The UK posted a slight increase of 0.1 per cent after its Brexit vote – an improvement on June’s figures. Of the large markets, France and Germany recorded significant drops of 9.6 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively, whilst the others recorded modest increases, with Italy posting a 2.6 per cent rise and Spain a 4.4 per cent increase.

VW_5919Volkswagen was the best-selling brand, with 136,393 units registered, accounting for 11.8 per cent of the total market. But in comparison, in July 2015, its volume of 152,863 accounted for 12.9 per cent of the total market.

The fall in the level of demand for VW cars could be attributed to the emissions issue and anticipation ahead of the launch of the updated version of the Volkswagen Golf at the Paris Motor Show in October.

Mercedes posted the highest increase in the top 10, but this was a modest 3.7 per cent, which saw the brand register 66,153 units in July 2016.

Felipe Munoz, global automotive analyst at JATO Dynamics, confirmed: ‘July marked the first decline in new car registrations in almost three years. This was largely driven by market conditions but there have been some significant drops recorded by some of the most popular models and brands.’

New Nissan Qashqai - DynamicThe SUV segment continued to grow, increasing registrations by 11.9 per cent compared to July 2015, meaning it now accounts for 25.5 per cent of the overall market. The Nissan Qashqai kept its position as the best-selling SUV.

MPVs continued to decline, with registrations down by 11 per cent despite the strong performance of the Volkswagen Touran which posted the highest percentage increase of the month (up 144 per cent).

Other big segment winners were the midsize Audi A4 and Skoda Superb, the compact SUV BMW X1, the B-SUVs Ford Ecosport, Suzuki Vitara and Jeep Renegade, and the midsize SUV Nissan X-Trail.

At the other end of the spectrum, some of the the biggest drops were recorded by the Mercedes CLS, Porsche Panamera and Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg, Citroen C5, DS 5, Nissan Pulsar and Hyundai i40.

Munoz added: ‘Despite July’s slightly disappointing results, the full-year figures are unlikely to be impacted too severely.’

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Dave Brown's avatar

Dave, production editor on Car Dealer Magazine, is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience in the worlds of newspapers, magazines and public relations.

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