Registrations in the new EU Member States have fallen 14% in the first seven months of this year, continuing 2004’s downward trend, according to Polk Marketing Systems, a market research and consultancy firm based in Essen, Germany.

Most of the decline is due to the collapse of the region’s largest market, Poland. Polk Marketing Systems is forecasting new registrations in Poland to be less than 250,000 units this year, down from over 350,000 units in 2003. This will be the market’s lowest level for more than ten years.

The next two largest markets, Hungary and the Czech Republic, are also down on 2004 (-8% and -1% respectively).

The three Baltic States are the only countries recording growth. Latvia’s market is up 45% on 2004.

Overall Polk Marketing Systems is forecasting a decline in new car registrations for the full year. The weak economy is the main contributing factor, particularly high unemployment. But the other major problem is the high level of used car imports. Poland imported over 800,000 used cars in 2004, up from just 33,000 in 2003, before EU accession.

Used car imports are expected to remain at a similarly high level in 2005, but overall they are on a downward trend. Last year used imports averaged 110,000 units a month after EU accession in July 2004. This year the monthly level is significantly lower at around 65% of last year’s level, or just over 70,000 units.