The 2018 car market in Europe was off to a strong start in January, especially in Germany

The 2018 car market in Europe was off to a strong start in January, especially in Germany

The West European car registrations grew by 5.2% year-on-year (YoY) in January according to data released by LMC Automotive.

LMC said there was a diverse range of results from across the region, but particularly strong outturns from some key markets ensured that the annualised selling rate (SAAR) rose to an impressive 15.3m units a year - the highest since August 2007.

Germany and Spain were the outstanding performers in January, posting double-digit year-on-year rises of 11.6% and 20.3%, respectively. Germany's annualised selling rate soared to 4m units a year, while Spain's jumped to 1.5m units a year.

The Italian market grew by 3.4% and France delivered a market registrations up 2.5%.

The UK market was down 6.3% on last year, again acting as a drag on the region as a whole. Nevertheless, the result was enough to nudge the selling rate slightly higher, towards 2.5m units a year.

LMC said that it is still forecasting a slowdown of growth in 2018 as a whole. Notwithstanding exceptionally strong results in some markets in January, there is still limited scope for growth in Germany, and a relatively weak UK market will constrain regional growth to around 1.6%. LMC maintains.

LMC analyst Jonathon Poskitt said the regional European market outlook is positive, but notes the market is now nearing a natural limit. "Germany's result in January was certainly very encouraging," he said. "It points to a generally positive economic backdrop and positive sentiment in business and among consumers. However, scope for sustained growth in Germany's car market during the course of the year is pretty limited. And the UK's car market is firmly in reverse now, which acts as a drag on the regional total. Obviously we're also keeping a very close eye on the outlook for interest rates and the impact of stock market volatility on households and spending decisions."

Western European car sales by country, January 2018

Jan 2018Jan 2017change
WESTERN EUROPE161391611062355.2
AUSTRIA28656264158.5
BELGIUM568695170110.0
DENMARK19908195391.9
FINLAND1568511530066.6
FRANCE1933751943722.5
GERMANY26940024139411.6
GREECE5718510012.1
IRELAND3712539003-4.8
ITALY1778221720333.4
LUXEMBOURG4592410811.8
NETHERLANDS593675112116.1
NORWAY920713055-29.5
PORTUGAL1489415213-2.1
SPAIN1016618451020.3
SWEDEN2298023280-1.3
SWITZERLAND216711945111.4
UK163615174564-6.3

Source: LMC Automotive

West European annual car sales, 2012-2018 (April forecast)

Units (m)%ch
201211.76NA
201311.53-1.8
201412.104.9
201513.188.9
201613.955.8
201714.302.5
2018F14.541.9

Source: LMC Automotive (April, 2018)