Has Western Europes car market recovery stalled? July was the first year-on-year monthly fall since August 2013

Has Western Europe's car market recovery stalled? July was the first year-on-year monthly fall since August 2013

Car sales in Western Europe fell by 2% in July, according to data released by LMC Automotive. It was the first year-on-year monthly fall since August 2013, although LMC noted there was one fewer selling day compared with the same month a year ago.

The annual selling rate last month slipped back to 13.4m units a year, which was described by LMC as a 'fairly disappointing' result. The average annualised selling rate for May-July stood at 13.8m units a year, weaker than levels recorded earlier in the year.

With one fewer selling day, Spanish car market growth slowed in July; registrations were up circa 4% YoY (compared to double-digit growth in the previous three months). The selling rate remained strong at 1.1m units however. The removal of the PIVE scrappage scheme, which has supported the Spanish car market for almost four years, might well cause some selling rate weakness over the next few months, LMC cautioned.

Italian car registrations were up circa 3%, marking the 26th monthly YoY increase in a row — year-to-date (YTD) the market was up 17.1%, and LMC said "we can expect strong growth to continue for the remainder of the year".

Though car registrations in Germany fell in July, the selling rate remained at 3.4m units a year.

The French market recorded a disappointing July result (-9.6% YoY) — however, the market was up 5.9% so far this year and the selling rate in Q2 averaged a strong 2m units a year.

The headline result for the UK car market suggested no major impact from the Brexit vote thus far (+0.1% YoY for July); however, private registrations were down 6.1% last month (+1.1% YTD) reflecting falling consumer confidence. LMC said the package of measures unveiled by the Bank of England on 4th August to provide additional monetary stimulus highlight the concerns over the UK's economic outlook. LMC warned that it expects economic headwinds will hit the UK car market over the remainder of this year, and beyond.

LMC forecasts that the 2016 car market in Western Europe will hit 13.87m units, some 5.2% ahead of last year.