Panic business car sales boost European market to best August in 20 years

Written by Ellie

The European new car market enjoyed its best August in 20 years, thanks to a strong showing in business car registrations.

According to JATO Dynamics, new car sales across Europe grew by 30 per cent to 1.17 million units. This was not only the most positive August in two decades but also the highest growth in a single month since November 2009, when volume grew by 25 per cent.

There is a slight deceit though, because registrations were boosted by stock clearances in the run up to WLTP, which took effect on September 1st.

This is evidenced by unusual spikes in typically slow-selling segments and booming business and fleet registrations, which leapt 38 per cent in August.

In June and July, registrations for these sectors jumped by just five and 11 per cent.

JATO Dynamics labelled this last-minute push for registrations as a lack of preparation from many car makers.

Felipe Munoz, JATO’s global analyst, said: “As we anticipated last month, it’s clear that registrations were boosted in August by car makers rushing to register their vehicles before the introduction of WLTP.

“These results show how easily registrations can be manipulated by external factors. The evidence of the WLTP effect shows how ill-prepared car makers were, and it will be interesting to see how car makers continue to respond to WLTP in the coming months.”

Germany leads the European new car market in 2018 with 2,473,281 units between January and the end of August, which is 6.4 per cent better than in the first eight months of 2017.

In terms of year-to-date growth though, the most considerable increases have been seen in Romania, Lithuania and Hungary (51.9 per cent, 32.2 per cent and 31 per cent respectively).

The UK is one of four European countries to report a decrease in year-to-date figures, with registrations dropping by 4.2 per cent so far this year, to 1,571,986 units. This comes despite a 23 per cent increase in August.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “As is often the case with new car sales figures, the surface level figures only tells part of the story.”

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Posted on 25th September 2018

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