BELGIUM: EU car sales recovery continued in August
The EU's car market remains weak amid continued worries over the strength of economic growth in the eurozone
The EU area's car market recovery continued in August with sales up 2.1% on last year, according to data released by ACEA.
In the first eight months of the year car sales in the EU stood at 8,336,159 units, or 6.0% more than in the same period last year.
However, the fragility of Europe's car market recovery was underlined by August market decines in France, Germany and Italy (-2.6%, -0.4% and -0.2% respectively).
Spain's rebound off a low base for comparison continued, with sales up 13.7% in the month and there was a 9.4% gain in the UK car market.
Market analyst IHS said in a statement that August's sales results were "reasonably positive given the fact there was notionally one less working day across the region and the fact that the market has now seen 12th consecutive months of growth, meaning that August's sales were also coping with a mildly higher base comparison."
It added that the regional market is still in something of a "two-speed mode" depending on where an individual market is on the recovery curve. Despite one-off stimulus factors such as Spain's PIVE scrappage scheme, IHS said there is still a wide spread of performance with the biggest influence on some of the gains in southern and central Europe simply the very low base comparison levels.
IHS said the outlook is for a "cautious and steady recovery is expressed in the full-year forecast, which will see a slight slowdown on the current rate 6% YTD sales growth in the final third of the year, with sales rising 4.9% y/y to 12.3 million units according to our latest forecast".
Some analysts warn that despite higher sales, pricing levels in Europe remain very low, with widespread discounting from the volume makers.
Strong sales this year from market leading Volkswagen Group helped it to increase its overall market share of the EU car market to 25.4% in the first eight months (2013: 25%). Sales of its Skoda brand were up 21% to 372,504 units in the first eight months.
Other car market share winners this year include Renault Group (2014 YTD share to end Aug: 9.8%; last year 8.9%), which was boosted by new models as well as still-growing Dacia (car sales in EU up 30% YTD) and Ford (2014 YTD car market share: 7.5% against 7.4% last year).