The European vehicle manufacturers trade association has published data that shows that car sales in Europe were down 0.2% in the first half of the year to 8.5m cars. Sales in western Europe were down one percent, while sales in the east were up 14.8%.

In June alone new car sales were up 21% in eastern Europe and down 0.6% in the west. German new car registrations in June were down 7% because of a new higher rate of VAT introduced at the beginning of the year. France and Spain also slowed and were down 3.2% and 1.8% respectively. Belgium was the strongest European market with sales up 8%, followed by Italy (+8%). Other growth markets were the UK (+1.5%), the Netherlands (+7.9%) and Portugal (+6.6%).

In eastern Europe Romania, the Baltic countries and Poland led the way (+56.1%, +33.7% and +23%, respectively). Apart from Hungary (–11.5%) and Slovakia (–1.5%), all remaining countries saw their first half-year results strongly improve with regards to January-June 2006.

According to the German vehicle manufacturers’ trade association, the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), German vehicle manufacturers have done well despite the decline in the German market. They increased their market share in western Europe by half a percentage point to 47%. In eastern Europe German manufacturers share reached a new high of 45%.