Press Releases

Western European car market’s best March result in five years

Berlin, 16 April 2015

China shows double-digit growth, US remains at last year’s level

The Western European passenger car market continued its success in March with expansion of 11 percent. The total of 1.56 million new cars sold was the highest sales volume for any March over the last five years. China also showed double-digit growth – of 12 percent. By contrast, the US market only managed to hover around the previous year’s level for March. All three major markets expanded strongly in the first quarter of this year.

In Western Europe all the top five markets achieved significant growth rates. Demand in Spain rose by nearly 41 percent, partly due to the bonus scheme. In Italy the passenger car market increased by a good 15 percent – which was double-digit growth for the third time in succession. In both Germany and France the market volume increased by 9 percent, while in the United Kingdom new registrations of passenger cars increased by 6 percent. The smaller Western European passenger car markets also continued their recovery, in some cases with astonishing speed. For instance demand showed double-figure growth in Iceland (+82 percent), Portugal (+42 percent), Ireland (+33 percent), Switzerland (+20 percent), Denmark (+17 percent), Finland (+15 percent), Sweden (+14 percent) and Greece (+11 percent). In the first quarter of 2015 the volume of new registrations in Western Europe expanded by almost 9 percent to 3.4 million units.

“The strong growth in Western Europe during the first three months shows that in many countries it is possible to realize the considerable volume of new cars needed to meet recovering demand. The people who were put off by the crisis are now apparently regaining more and more confidence. We believe that indicates good prospects for the year as a whole,” stressed Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).

In the new EU Member States new passenger car registrations climbed by nearly 8 percent in March to reach 90,000 new cars. Apart from Poland (-6 percent), the largest individual market in Central and Eastern Europe, all the countries had rising figures. In the first quarter of 2015 total registrations came to 235,800 units, which was almost 5 percent more new cars than in the same period last year.

In March the US market for light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) hovered around the previous year’s level, at a good 1.5 million units. However, March had one trading day less this year than in 2014. The passenger car market recorded a fall of nearly 4 percent to 711,800 units, but in the first quarter of this year car sales matched last year’s result, at almost 1.8 million units. In the month just ended the light truck segment grew by nearly 5 percent to 826,000 vehicles. Since January the demand for light trucks has climbed by close to 11 percent to total around 2.2 million new vehicles. In the first quarter the overall light vehicle market in the US expanded by almost 6 percent, amounting to 3.9 million units.

The Chinese passenger car market again demonstrated welcome development in March. Sales of new cars came to 1.75 million, exceeding the 2014 result by 12 percent. In the first three months of the current year, car sales increased by more than 11 percent compared to last year – in all, nearly 5 million new vehicles were sold.

In Japan the passenger car market shrank 12 percent, down to 586,800 new registrations. Here, however, there was a special effect: the VAT increase on April 1, 2014, boosted the figures for the first quarter of that year as sales were brought forward in anticipation. In the first three months of 2015 the market volume exceeded 1.3 million units but was a good 15 percent below the figure from last year.

In India, the March figures were slightly up on the same month last year. Sales of passenger cars reached a volume of 244,400 (+3 percent). The Indian car market finished the first quarter of 2015 with a rise of almost 5 percent, with sales of new cars climbing to 706,200 units.

The Russian light vehicle market continued its contraction in March. At 139,900 new vehicles sold, the market lost around 43 percent of its volume. Since January 2015 light vehicle sales in Russia have plummeted by more than 36 percent, with sales totaling only 383,700 vehicles.

Brazil managed to apply the brakes somewhat to the slump on its light vehicle market. In March 226,300 new vehicles were registered on South America’s most important automotive market, which was just over 1 percent down on the same month last year. In the first quarter of 2015 the number of new registrations fell markedly (-16 percent) to 649,900 light vehicles.

New Passenger Car Registrations/Sales

  March 2015 January - March 2015
  Units Change 15/14 in % Units Change 15/14 in %
Europe (EU28+EFTA)* 1.650.700 10,8 3.637.600 8,5
  European Union (EU-28)* 1.604.100 10,6 3.527.700 8,6
  W. Europe (EU15+EFTA) 1.560.700 10,9 3.401.800 8,7
  New EU Countries (EU13)* 90.000 7,7 235.800 4,8
Russia** 139.900 -42,5 383.700 -36,3
USA** 1.537.800 0,4 3.937.000 5,6
Japan 586.800 -11,9 1.344.000 -15,5
Brazil** 226.300 -1,2 649.900 -16,2
India 244.400 2,7 706.200 4,5
China 1.746.200 12,0 4.978.700 11,3

* without Malta
** Light Vehicles

Eckehart Rotter
Eckehart Rotter Head of Department Press

Tel: +49 30 897842-120 Fax: +49 30 897842-603
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