UK Bucks European Trend with Continuing Rise in Car Sales

CAP AIS Automotive Intelligence Specialist, Matthew Freeman, comments on European new car sales figures.

In a week in which major EU markets have posted continuing poor sales, the UK has bucked the trend by posting yet another set of healthy figures – with April being the 13th month in succession to post month-on-month growth.

Germany, France and Italy, which along with the UK account for the bulk of EU sales, have all posted negative figures for the first quarter of 2013. Germany, the region’s largest market, was down 13% whilst French sales fell by over 14%; Italian sales were down 13%.

By contrast, the SMMT reported that UK new car registrations rose 7.4% for the quarter. Private sales outperformed the market, and increased their share of the total market. Linked to this was a rise in sales of petrol cars and smaller vehicles – both more likely to attract private buyers. Even accounting for the less than ideal economic situation in the UK, this means 2013 new registrations are still on track to safely cross the 2 million unit mark.

For manufacturers, double-digit declines in other markets mean that UK buyers remain the region’s best hope of sales growth. With increasing political and economic uncertainty in other major markets undermining consumer confidence, the UK is likely to be the focus of manufacturers’ efforts to maintain sales volumes. For cash-rich automakers this could be an opportunity to steal market share from their poorer rivals through targeted incentives. This may well translate into increased price competition in the UK market – excellent news for consumers, but with a possible negative impact on used values and sales volumes.

Matthew Freeman - CAP AIS, Automotive Intelligence Specialist


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