ACEA statistics show a difficult December but strong year for vehicle registrations

17 January 2018

17 January 2018

New vehicle registrations in the European Union rose during 2017, despite a fall in sales across the continent during the month of December.

According to the latest figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), a total of 1,088,498 vehicles were registered during the last month of 2017, which was 4.8% down on the same period in 2016. However, there was one less working day in December 2017, which contributed to the decline in sales. Across the year, over 15 million cars were sold, up 3.4% on 2016, a fourth consecutive year of growth and the first time this number has been achieved since 2007.

Across the big five EU markets in December, demand declined in France by 0.5%, Germany sales fell by 1%, and Italian registrations dropped 3.2%. However, the UK registered the biggest fall in the month, with new vehicle sales declining 14.4%, ultimately bringing the market further down than perhaps likely in the month. Spain, however, registered an increase of 6.2%.

Around the manufacturers, the biggest winner of the month was PSA Group, although its 61% official sales increase is helped by the combination of Opel and Vauxhall sales within its figures, both of which were not present in the 2016 results. Peugeot grew 9.8%, and Citroen was up 1.6%, while DS sales fell 14%.

Volkswagen (VW) dropped by 4.8% in the month, with Audi down 9.5% and Skoda down 3.2%. However, the VW Group was helped by the SEAT brand, thanks in part to its new SUVs, allowing it to gain 7.1% on 2016.

Ford’s sales fell 6.7%, mainly due to the drop in UK figures where the company is a market leader. With fewer buyers in the British car market, it is inevitable that brands would feel the penalties for poor sales, and those selling greater numbers would likely suffer more.

For the big five markets over the whole of 2017, only the UK posted any decline in sales, with the market contracting by 5.7%, the first drop since 2011. Italy and Spain recorded the strongest gains, up 7.9% and 7.1% respectively, with France growing its market by 4.7% and Germany rising 2.7%.

From the manufacturers, VW Group grew its sales by 2.1%, aided by a 14.4% rise in SEAT sales and a 6.4% increase in those at Skoda, while the main brand declined 0.9%. PSA Group took second place in the EU market thanks to its acquisition of Opel, with sales rising 28.1%, while the Renault Nissan Alliance grew its market 6.7%. Of the major vehicle brands, only Honda and Ford saw any decline, with figures falling 11.8% and 0.3% respectively.