European commercial vehicle sales increase for the sixth year in succession

24 January 2019

24 January 2019

The European commercial vehicle (CV) market encountered tricky conditions in December 2018. However, the market still managed to post growth across the whole 12 months.

In December, registrations dropped by 4% compared to the same month in 2017. Demand contracted across all segments, but heavy trucks and buses saw the highest declines. Both Spain (6.7%) and France (1.9%) posted growth, even with the ′yellow vest’ protests in the latter, while Italy (down 12.1%), the UK (down 9.5%) and Germany (down 4.4%) struggled.

Across the whole year, demand for CVs rose by 3.2% compared to 2017, marking the sixth successive year of growth. About 2.5 million commercial vehicles were registered across the EU, representing the highest volume on record since 2007. Demand declined in Italy (down 4.1%), and the UK (down 1.9%), but the Spanish (6.5%), French (4.9%) and German (4.6%) markets performed well in 2018.

In December, registrations of light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes were 2.4% lower than a year earlier. Among the major EU markets, Spain (9.9%) posted the highest increase, followed by France (2.9%). At the same time, demand for new vans slowed down in Italy (dropping 11.5%), the UK (down 8.8%) and Germany (down 3.2%).

In 2018, new van registrations surpassed the two-million mark for the first time since 2007, recording a 3.1% increase compared to 2017. Spain (7.8%), Germany (5.4%) and France (+4.6%) posted growth, while demand for light commercial vehicles contracted both in the United Kingdom (by 1.3%) and Italy (by 6%).

EU demand for new medium and heavy commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes decreased by 11.6% in December, compared to the same month in 2017. Among the five big markets, France was the only one to show a slight increase (1%). By contrast, Italy (down 18.1%), Spain (down 17.7%), the UK (down 11.5%) and Germany (down 9.9%) all recorded strong declines.

Last year, new truck registrations across the European Union grew by 3.5% compared to 2017. Full-year results were diverse among the five key EU markets. France (8.1%), Italy (5.1%) and Germany (2.9%) posted positive results in 2018, but truck demand fell in the UK (by 4%) and Spain (by 2%).

December 2018 results in the heavy truck segment were significantly lower (by 12.8%) than in December 2017. Except France (up 1.5%), all major markets faced declines − with Spain (down 24.3%), Italy (down 22.8%) and Germany (down 12.2%) posting double-digit drops.

2018 was a positive year for heavy truck registrations, despite the slowdown observed in December. Overall 305,811 new vehicles were registered across the EU during the year, or 3.1% more than in 2017. The United Kingdom (down 5.4%) and Spain (down 4.2%) saw demand for heavy trucks decline last year, but France (9.1%), Italy +5%) and Germany (3.1%) contributed positively to full-year EU growth.

December results showed a strong decline (down 13.4%) in bus and coach registrations. France saw the highest drop (down 46.2%), followed by the United Kingdom (down 27.5%) and Spain (dropping 16.7%). By contrast, demand for buses increased in Germany (5.4%) and Italy (5%) during the last month of 2018.

In 2018, 41,992 buses and coaches were registered across the EU, up 1.3% compared to 2017. Growth was largely driven by the Central European markets (up 18.6%), giving full-year EU results a crucial boost. On the other hand, all major Western European markets contracted in 2018 – except for Italy, which recorded strong year-on-year growth of 36.7%.