There were some good deals around for many European consumers in August

There were some good deals around for many European consumers in August

Western Europe's car market grew by a staggering 26.6% year-on-year (YoY) in August, although this was largely a result of one-off effects linked to the change to WLTP emissions regulations.

Data released by LMC Automotive shows that the regional selling rate rose to an all-time high of 18.4m units a year in August, up from 14.7m units a year in July. LMC said "we should not read too much into this due to the unique circumstances affecting Western European sales currently".

From 1st September, the new and stricter WLTP testing regime must be used for all new cars in the EU, and only a limited number of cars tested under the old NEDC system can be sold after this date. Therefore, in August there was a strong incentive for self-registration of vehicles and heavy discounting on the part of retailers, while savvy buyers may have made purchases before higher taxes were applied where these are linked to CO2 emissions.

In France, August new car registrations soared by 40% YoY, while for the year-to-date (YTD), sales are up 8.9%. There was a similar story in Spain, where sales surged by 48.7% YoY in August, with the selling rate reaching a record level of over 1.9m units a year.

The size of the WLTP-related uplift in Germany was a little smaller in percentage terms, at 24.7%, but this still had a large impact on the regional selling rate. UK car sales grew by 23.1% YoY, albeit from a low base, given that August is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year. Italy was less affected by WLTP, but registrations were still up a healthy 9.5% YoY.

LMC said it expects that the exceptionally high WLTP-related sales volumes recorded in July and August will be cancelled out by lower sales in the autumn and the net effect on the year as a whole will be "fairly neutral".

"WLTP is clearly creating some considerable volatility in the market right now," said LMC analyst Jonathon Poskitt. "The need to work stock through for sale on some model lines ahead of the WLTP introduction date has combined with some very good deals for a phenomenal August result, but history suggests that there will be a 'market payback' after purchases have been brought forward and the bigger the pull-forward, the bigger the subsequent payback."

Western Europe car sales by market

Aug 18Aug 17%chYTD 18YTD 17%chSAAR Aug 18SAAR YTD2017%ch
WESTERN EUROPE101514480198126.61013918596686634.91838314815237312142999096.6

Source: LMC Automotive

Notes - 

Greece and Luxembourg: estimates for latest month.
Greece data source has changed to Sales from Registrations.
The percent change in the final column compares the average selling rate in the year-to-date with the last full year.
The average of the seasonally adjusted selling rate for an entire year is by definition the total of sales in the year.

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