Acea has reported that sales of new passenger cars in Europe fell by 14.5% in October confirming earlier data issued by JD Power and reported by just-auto.

Reflecting the financial and economic crisis, new car registrations have now decreased for six consecutive months, most notably since the summer. Cumulative figures over January to October show a minus of 5.4%.

Markets in Western Europe registered 1,034,955 new cars in October, or 15.5% less compared to last year. With the exception of Austria (+4.0%), all markets contracted. The Irish and the Spanish markets continued their sharply downward trend, plummeting -54.6% and -40.0% respectively in October, and down -18.2% and -23.8% over the first ten months of the year. In Spain, registrations in October were the lowest since 1995. In the UK, demand for new cars was down 23.0%, with cumulative results from January to October showing an 8.8% decline. For the tenth consecutive month, new registrations were down on the Italian market (-18.9%), resulting in a 12.0% drop in the cumulative results. In Germany, October new car registrations were 8.2% lower than the already weak result of last year. In France, the market recorded a 7.4% fall. Ten months into 2008, both Germany and France still have a stable number of newly registered cars compared to 2007, recording a +0.3% and +2.2% change respectively over the year onto October.

Registrations of new cars in the new EU Member States also declined in October (-3.2%), with cumulative results holding grounds at a 2.5% plus over the first ten months of the year. The Polish market expanded in October (+12.3%), as well as from January to October (+9.0%), consolidating its position as the largest market in the region. Romania, despite a 10.6% fall in October remained the second biggest market.

A research note issued by Global Insight put the European car sales slump in perspective: “The financial crisis resulting from the credit crunch has also had the additional effect of disabling the automakers’ potential to stimulate the market through incentive finance packages, the common means by which car manufacturers try and boost demand. In fact the carmakers, especially the German ones are concerned about their increasing inability to offer any kind of competitive finance or lease packages as a result of the collapse of the credit markets, which has basically seen a collapse in lending between the banks and financial institutions.

“A number of financial bail-out packages are being rolled out across Europe, such as the one in the United Kingdom, to guarantee bank liquidity and try and regain confidence in the financial sector, but these measures are taking time to trickle down to increase the level of affordable finance to consumers. However, the banks and financial units of the carmakers are unlikely to offer favourable credit terms to those with less than perfect credit histories while the more financially conservative consumers are unlikely to be making big ticket purchases in the current climate. All these factors are combining to see a significant fall in demand across Europe. Even the new member states which were helping to drive growth are beginning to feel the pinch, with Hungary having recently applied to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an emergency loan package.
“The sharp declines in October and the serious downside risks faced into the final quarter and beyond have forced Global Insight to revise the current forecast for Western European car sales. The total for the Western European market is now expected to dip below the 14 million market by some margin, at a provisional 13.8 million. Furthermore, the severity of the crisis has caused a further revision downwards for 2009, to below 13 million units.”

See also: UK: West Europe car sales down 15.5% in October