EUROPE: Car sales up 27% in November

By Dave Leggett | 15 December 2009

New car registrations in Europe jumped 27% in November versus year-ago levels, according to data released by the European automakers' trade body, ACEA.

ACEA's figures for November confirmed those from JD Power for Western Europe, published earlier this month on just-auto and showed the continued impact of scrappage incentives in boosting a number of national markets in Western Europe.

Car sales in the new EU member states of central and eastern Europe - where scrappage incentives have not been applied this year - were down almost 17% on last year, ACEA reported.

November car sales in Western Europe stood at 1,116,845 units in November, or 30.6% more than a year ago. Most markets expanded, with results ranging from +1% in Portugal to +57.6% in the UK. The increase was 48.3% in France, 37.3% in Spain, 31.2% in Italy and 19.7% in Germany. Eleven months into the year, the West European car market remained stable (at 12.3m units; -0.7%) compared to the same period of 2008. Only three countries posted growth: France (+7.6%), Austria (+7.9%) and Germany (+25.4%). The Italian market contracted by 1.4%, the British by 8.8% and the Spanish by 20.8%.

In the new EU Member States, new registrations decreased by 16.7% in November. Only the Czech Republic (+31.5%) and Slovenia (+3.7%) saw their markets expand. The Polish market remained stable (-0.4%). The downturn in the other countries ranged from -23.9% (in Slovakia) to -84.9% (in Latvia). From January to November, 778,063 new cars were registered,or 27.4% less than over the same period a year ago. The Slovak and Czech markets grew by 10.7% and 10.1% respectively. Poland (+0.5%) remained the largest with a total of 291,715 units, while Romania became the third biggest market despite a 60.7% contraction.

Volkswagen Group has led the European market this year, with sales in the first 11 months of 2.85m units, some 0.6% ahead of the same period last year. VW Group's share in the period gained to 21.2%, versus 20.5% last year. However, its premium Audi brand saw sales down 7.4% year-to-date.

Also emphasising harder times for premium marques, in a market that has generally enjoyed a small car boost under scrappage, were sharply lower sales for Mercedes-Benz and BMW year-to-date. BMW sales were off almost 17% to 524,129 units while Mercedes was down almost 15% to 551,748 units.

Lexus sales in the first 11 months were down a hefty 28.5% to 19,084 units.

See also: JD Power's November sales analysis