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Western Europe, USA and China are growing

Berlin, 17 April 2014

All five major passenger car markets in Western Europe expand in March

The three largest automotive markets – Western Europe, the USA and China – all expanded significantly in March. In Western Europe new registrations of passenger cars rose by 9.5 per cent, while in the USA sales of light vehicle increased by nearly 6 per cent and the Chinese passenger car market grew by a good 12 per cent. These markets also increased over the first quarter of this year. By contrast, new car sales in Brazil, India and Russia showed year-on-year falls both in March and over the first quarter.

March was the seventh month in succession in which the Western European passenger car market exceeded the previous year’s figure. Sales were up by 9.5 per cent, reaching 1.4 million new cars. The five largest markets all expanded. The volume of new registrations in Germany rose by a good 5 per cent. France demonstrated clear recovery and grew by more than 8 per cent. Demand for passenger cars in Spain showed double-digit growth (+10 per cent), and the Italian car market expanded for the fourth time in succession: in March 5 per cent more new vehicles were registered than in the same month last year. Especially keen growth was seen in the United Kingdom, where demand for passenger cars rose by almost 18 per cent. This means that the traditionally strong month of March – when registration plates change in the UK – recorded its best result since 2004, with UK consumers currently in a particularly buoyant mood. March also saw marked growth in Portugal (+47 per cent), Greece (+31 per cent) and Ireland (+23 per cent). In contrast, demand fell in the Netherlands (-17 per cent), Switzerland (-8 per cent) and Austria (-4 per cent). In the Netherlands demand was held back by declining private consumption and falling real wages, while in Austria higher insurance taxes and the standard consumption tax were responsible for the drop.

In the first quarter of this year, the total Western European passenger car market increased by just over 7 per cent to 3.1 million units. New registrations of cars in the new EU Member States rose by 28 per cent in March, with the year-to-date increase amounting to 22 per cent.

In the USA March sales of light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) rose by nearly 6 per cent to 1.53 million units. The severe winter had in fact reduced the sales figures in January and February, as buyers were kept away from the showrooms, but the arrival of spring is now obviously encouraging people to buy. The volume of the US market for light vehicles totalled 3.73 million units for the first three months of this year, which was a good 1 per cent up on 2013.

In the month just ended, too, light trucks ensured dynamic growth on the overall market – 790,200 new cars were sold, which was a double-digit rise of just over 11 per cent. In the first quarter of 2014 light truck sales increased by a good 7 per cent to 1.95 million units. Demand for passenger cars, on the other hand, showed much less development – March sales reached 740,500 units, hovering around the previous year’s level. The year-to-date figures for passenger cars have climbed a good 4 per cent to a total of 1.78 million new vehicles.

The Chinese passenger car market also showed impressive growth in March. Almost 1.6 million new vehicles were sold, which exceeded last year’s result by 12 per cent. Car sales in China up to the end of March were a little more than 14 per cent above the 2013 level, at nearly 4.5 million new vehicles.

In Japan March registrations of new passenger cars climbed by nearly 17 per cent to 666,000 units. Pre-buy effects pushing up purchases of new cars – because VAT is going up from 5 to 8 per cent in April – resulted in the seventh month of double-digit growth in succession. In the first quarter of this year, new registrations of passenger cars soared by almost 21 per cent to 1.6 million units.

India’s passenger car market ended the first three months with a decrease of nearly 7 per cent as new car sales slumped to 675,600 units. Last month sales of passenger cars also showed a year-on-year fall of 7 per cent, totalling only 238,200 vehicles.

In March the Russian light vehicle market contracted slightly compared with last year. Sales of new cars fell by almost 1 per cent to 242,300 units. This year so far, Russian light vehicle sales have not been able to match the result from the first quarter of last year, at 602,500 vehicles, i.e. are over 2 per cent down on 2013.

New registrations of light vehicles in Brazil have reached a year-to-date volume of 775,400 units (-2 per cent). In March the Brazilian light vehicle market recorded 229,100 new registrations and shrank by almost 15 per cent.

New Passenger Car Registrations/Sales

  March 2014 January - March 2014
  Units Change 14/13 in % Units Change 14/13 in %
Europe (EU28+EFTA)* 1.489.800 10,4 3.353.200 8,1
European Union (EU-28)* 1.449.100 10,6 3.246.700 8,4
W. Europe (EU15+EFTA) 1.406.200 9,5 3.128.100 7,2
New EU Countries (EU13)* 83.600 27,8 225.100 22,0
Russia** 242.300 -0,8 602.500 -2,3
USA** 1.530.600 5,6 3.728.000 1,3
Japan 666.000 16,7 1.590.100 20,9
Brazil** 229.100 -14,7 775.400 -1,7
India 238.200 -7,3 675.600 -6,9
China 1.559.400 12,1 4.472.200 14,1
*without Malta
**Light Vehicles
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