Car sales in Western Europe fell by 5.3% in August, according to data released by LMC Automotive.

LMC said that the August results “continue to highlight the tough conditions faced by the car industry in Western Europe”. After a recent run of monthly sales suggesting that the market is flat, the August result showed a slight deterioration in the sales trend with the Seasonally Adjusted Annualised Rates (SAAR) of sales at just 11.1m units.

LMC said that while the August result is disappointing, the month of August is a low one in volume terms and that it would not want to put too much emphasis on the latest result. Much more critical is the September result, not least because of the registration plate change in the UK, LMC noted.

The forecasting firm added that there are good reasons to continue to believe the market will begin to pick up. The eurozone economy is expected to return to growth in the second half of the year, which will provide support to the car market. Consumer confidence has also been edging up in recent months. 

However, the forecast is for the West European car to end 2013 at 11.4m units, 3.2% down on 2012 and some 3.5m units lower than 2007. A 'modest' improvement is forecast for 2014.

National highlights:

  • Result for Germany: sales down by 5.5% — the year-to-date market was down by 6.6%. The German car market's selling rate slipped back again after climbing above 3.0m units SAAR the previous month.
  • The selling rate in France also fell back, after a run of three months at around 1.8m units SAAR.
  • Italian new car registrations picked up in August, though, like in France, remain low compared to the pre-recession years last decade.
  • In Spain, the market continued to be supported by scrappage incentives, though the year-on-year comparison includes a distortion from the VAT increase last year when registrations were pulled forward into August 2012.
  • In a seasonally weak month before the registration plate change in September, the UK selling rate eased back from recent levels.

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