European registrations remain stable in February

15 March 2019

15 March 2019

The European automotive market is still struggling to get going in 2019, as the latest registrations figures show another small drop in February.

The figures, released by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) show that last month the passenger car market contracted by 1% compared to the same period in 2018. While this is a small amount, it represents a continuation of a struggle in the industry since the introduction of WLTP during September 2018.

A total of 1,114,692 units were sold across the continent, with the big five markets revealing mixed results. After a five-month decline, demand for new vehicles increased moderately in Germany, up by 2.7%. France posted a 2.1% increase while the UK’s fluctuating market saw growth of 1.4%. However, Italian registrations declined 2.4%, while Spain had a difficult month with sales falling by 8.8%. The two markets have now suffered sales declines for six consecutive months.

For the first two months of the year, demand for cars in the European Union fell by 2.9%. Some markets have seen a strong drop compared to last year, even though the year is only two months old. Spain has declined by 8.4%, while Italy is down 4.9% so far in 2019. UK registrations have fallen by just 0.6%, while France and Germany have remained more or less stable so far, with sales up 0.6% and 0.5% respectively.

Manufacturer round-up

The top manufacturers in Europe saw sales remain stable in February. Volkswagen Group had a 0.7% decline across all its brands, with the core VW marque increasing sales by 3.4%. Audi struggled, down by 7.2% over the four weeks. So far this year the group has 3.8% fewer registrations, with SEAT the only one of its main brands increasing sales, up 3.5%.

PSA Group increased sales by 1% in the second month of the year with Opel/Vauxhall, which recently announced a return to profit under its new owners, posting the only decline in the group with a 2.9% drop. So far this year, the French carmaker is 0.5% down across all its brands, with Opel’s drop of 4.5% covered by a 5.2% increase for Citroen.

Renault saw a 0.3% rise, thanks to its Dacia brand increasing sales by 2.9% to cover the core marque’s 1.6% drop. So far this year the manufacturer is 0.2% down, another stable performance in the first two months.

Nissan struggled in February; its 24.2% sales decline dragging the company’s year-to-date total to a drop of 25.3%. Ford saw sales fall 5.3%, the company continuing its continental struggle as it undergoes a restructuring programme.

Volvo, whose sales increased by 7.6%, posted the largest mainstream manufacturer growth. This second strong month means the carmaker, which is planning to go electrified only this year, has a year-to-date increase of 14.9%.