Registrations rise before Brexit bite

Passenger car registrations in the European Union rose 6.9% year on year in June, meaning the first half of 2016 recorded a 9.4% year on year growth.

Figures published by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) found that 1,459,508 units were sold in the continent during June, taking total sales for the first half of the year to 7,842,965 units.

However, the performance in the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) area has been far weaker, with registrations having fallen by 4.2% during the month to 47,795 units. Nevertheless, it has maintained some growth in the year to date with registrations up by 1.2% y/y to 247,905 units.

Driving the positive growth were a number of key markets, with Germany recording an 8.3% gain. France increased by a modest 0.8% y/y, although the Spanish and Italian markets rose 11.9% and 11.2% respectively.

In contrast, the UK fell 0.8%, but this is only the second time in 52 months that the market has recorded a fall as it currently stands at record levels.

Elsewhere, Portugal, Ireland and a host of markets in central Europe are continuing to record improvements on the relatively low base of comparison.

Looking forward, the decision by the UK voters to leave the EU on 23 June will eventually become a factor, according to Carlos Da Silva, manager of IHS Automotive European light-vehicle sales forecast. He said it had already been earmarked as one of the clouds on the horizon for the generally positive market situation.

He said, ‘We are not dramatically changing our views for the European market as a whole in 2016, as we were already factoring in a relative slowdown for the second half of 2016 anyway.’

He predicts more of an impact in 2017 and 2018, however. He said, ’As tensions and uncertainty rise, we do not see how the European market could sustain it current momentum beyond 2016. We are not necessarily pointing to a depressed market in 2017, there is still lots of pent up demand out there, but the pace is definitely expected to be altered in the years to come.’