The passenger car market in Western Europe continued its recovery at a faster pace in the last year. With a gain of 9 percent, the market achieved its highest growth of the last 25 years. New registrations of passenger cars had exceeded the previous year after just 11 months, and reached a total volume of 13.2 million units with a strong spurt at the end of the year. Despite the strong increase, however, Western Europe is still quite a way from the registration numbers of the years prior to the crisis.
In the United Kingdom, the passenger car market grew at 6 percent for the fourth time in a row, reaching a new record level of 2.6 million units. The passenger car market in France also grew substantially, to a total of 1.9 million newly registered passenger cars (a 7 percent gain). The French market thus grew for the second year in a row. Italy also recovered further: In the entire year, the Italian passenger car market grew by 16 percent and reached a volume of 1.6 million newly registered cars. In Spain, the PIVE subsidy program, along with overall economic recovery, led to a strong increase of 21 percent in new passenger car registrations, to over one million units.
New passenger car registrations in Eastern Europe (new EU countries plus Cyprus) rose by 12 percent in the last year, reaching the 1 million mark again for the first time in six years. Among the large Eastern European markets, the Czech Republic had the strongest growth, gaining 20 percent for a new record level of 230,900 new passenger car registrations. As the largest individual passenger car market in the new EU countries, Poland had its highest level of the past 15 years with 355,000 units (an 8 percent gain). The Slovakian market also set a new record with 78,000 new passenger car registrations (+8 percent). Other Eastern European markets, in contrast, are still clearly characterized by the global economic crisis. The Hungarian passenger car market, despite 14 percent growth to 77,200 new passenger car registrations, is still 95,000 units short of its 2007 level. In comparison with Western Europe, the new EU countries remained at a low level. The passenger car markets thus reflected the still enormous overall economic gap. The gross domestic product of Western European countries exceeded that of the new EU countries by more than a factor of ten in 2014 (approximately 11.8 trillion euros). Per capita, this is a difference of about 31,000 euros.
The Russian light vehicle market continued its strong downward trend in 2015. Currency devaluation, falling oil prices, inflationary pressure and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine – Russia’s economy was in a deep recession. Sales of new vehicles fell by 36 percent to 1.6 million passenger cars and light trucks. In the fourth quarter, sales dropped by nearly half. The state aid package for the Russian automotive market showed absolutely no sign of being effective. Due to stagnating real incomes and severe loss of purchasing power, private consumption has collapsed as a pillar of the economy.