Mixed fortunes for major European new-car markets in June

03 July 2024

June proved to be a mixed month for three of Europe’s major new-car markets, with incentives and politics affecting proceedings. Autovista24 special content editor Phil Curry explores the numbers.

There was a range of emotions across the new-car markets of France, Spain and Italy during June. The latest figures from the industry associations of all three countries suggest that the remainder of 2024 will be tough, with incentives potentially playing a role in registration performances.

With the markets now entering the traditionally slower months of July and August, there are opportunities for those that are struggling to bounce back. Meanwhile, Italy will be hoping that the boost provided by battery-electric vehicle (BEV) incentives in June will continue until the end of the year.

Falling in France

For the second month in succession and the third month in 2024, new-car registrations in France declined. The market ended June with registrations down by 4.8% year on year, as 181,712 units took to the country’s roads, according to Autovista24 calculations based on data from the PFA.

The country saw two fewer working days last month, compared to 2023, which will have impacted the figures. It is also going through an election period. This may have destabilised the market slightly as buyers wait to see which party enters power, and any automotive policies they may bring.

Just as in May, the performance of hybrid powertrains helped the market, although not enough this time to prevent an overall decline. The PFA splits the hybrid market into full hybrids (HEVs) and mild hybrids (MHEVs), with both achieving strong growth in the month.

MHEVs saw the biggest year-on-year improvement. Registrations of this powertrain type surged by 51.9%, with 27,939 units delivered. This meant the technology held a 15.4% market share at the end of the month, up by 5.8 percentage points (pp) compared to last year.

The MHEV sector has seen continued strong growth this year, most likely due to the increasing number of vehicles being offered with the powertrain, at the expense of the petrol and diesel market.

Registrations of HEVs also improved, with 34,256 registrations up 23.7% year on year. The technology accounted for 18.9% of the new-car market in June, growing from its 14.5% hold recorded in the same month last year.

EVs struggle

In contrast, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) struggled in June. Registrations were down 21.7%, with 14,043 deliveries. This was just under 3,900 units fewer than the same month in 2023, according to Autovista24 calculations.

This has left PHEVs down by 5.5% in the year-to-date. The powertrain suffered its third consecutive month of delivery declines in June, leaving it as the only electrified technology to be below its 2023 total at the halfway point of the year. In June alone, its market share fell by 1.7pp, to 7.7%.

Meanwhile, BEVs encountered their first decline of the year, with 29,833 units resulting in a 10.4% drop. The all-electric powertrain took a 16.4% share of the overall market, down from the 17.4% recorded in June 2023.

In the last three months, the year-to-date market share for BEVs has slipped, from its high of 17.9% in March, to 17.3% in June. This is despite registration improvements in every month, except the last.

At the beginning of the year, France implemented new rules on subsidies for electric vehicles (EVs). Models imported from outside the EU no longer qualified due to their increased carbon footprint.

The country could, therefore, be a case study for what may happen to the EV market should the EU impose tariffs on vehicles from Chinese carmakers. While initially it seemed there was little impact on the market, the removal of incentives for popular models, such as the Tesla Model 3, Dacia Spring and MG4, may have slowed registrations of the technology. If tariffs are applied EU-wide, the increase in the price of Chinese models may produce the same result in other markets.

ICE decline continues

Petrol registrations fell by 20.2% in June, with 54,492 units delivered. This continues a run of declines for the fuel type, which has only seen one month of improvement this year with a slight 2% increase in February.

June’s petrol market share, therefore, sat 5.8pp lower than last year, with a 30% hold. Its decline may be linked to the improvement in the MHEV market, with more petrol vehicles produced using a mild-hybrid powertrain.

However, other major European markets, while seeing petrol registrations slow, have yet to experience such a significant decline.

Diesel also struggled in June, with a total of 16,236 deliveries down by 8.3%. However, its 8.9% market share was just 0.4pp lower than the same month last year, meaning it outperformed PHEVs for the third month in a row.

Overall, registrations of new internal-combustion engine (ICE) models declined by 17.7% in June. The segment held a 38.9% market share, down by 6.1pp. The powertrain was comfortably beaten by the HEV and EV market, with a total share of 43% in the month.

Italian incentives

In stark contrast to French struggles, the new-car market in Italy enjoyed its strongest month for some time, thanks to a new incentives package that boosted the BEV market.

Registrations in the country totalled 159,982 units in June, a 15.1% improvement year on year, according to ANFIA. This result follows a 6.6% decline in May which, it seems, was partially due to buyers waiting for the implementation of the subsidies.

‘The impact of the new incentives on the market derives both from the expectation effect created in recent months and from the greater economic attractiveness and inclusiveness towards all categories of buyers, in regard to the new calculation formulas compared to the past,’ commented Roberto Vavassori, president of ANFIA.

‘We hope that the sales trend can remain positive also in the coming months, so as to counterbalance the physiological reduction in volumes typical of the summer months, and that it can contribute, above all, to a growing diffusion of new green technologies and a faster replacement of older vehicles in circulation.’

BEVs have been struggling in Italy during 2024. However, the powertrain led the charge in terms of volume growth in June as a result of the incentive effect. Registrations improved by 117.4% thanks to 13,365 units.

The technology accounted for 8.3% of new-car deliveries in the month, a 3.9pp rise year on year. Yet, while the result gives cause for optimism,  its market share is still lower than some other major markets.

The new subsidies helped to level the year-to-date market share for the technology, rising from 3% in May to 3.9%. The country will now be hoping that more buyers look to all-electric models if incentives continue, especially as uptake has been slow in the last few years.

Market improves

However, even without the impressive BEV performance, Italy’s new-car market would have still seen a strong registrations improvement in June. Once again, the hybrid market, made up of both HEVs and MHEVs, led the volumes, with 61,358 deliveries equating to a 27.2% rise.

This gave the powertrain a dominant 38.4% share of the market, although this was slightly lower than May, due to the increase in BEV volume. It is clear, therefore, that buyers in the country prefer hybrid powertrains, rather than traditional ICE units as seen elsewhere.

The same cannot be said for PHEVs. The plug-in technology struggled in the shadow of the BEV rise, with a 24.5% decrease in deliveries, as just 5,592 units made their way to customers.

This meant a drop of 1.8pp in market share, with the powertrain holding 3.5% at the end of June. In the year-to-date share, PHEVs were overtaken by their plug-in counterpart, accounting for 3.3% of new-car registrations.

While BEV registrations have been boosted by the country’s new incentives, PHEVs have been left behind, The technology has seemingly not benefitting from subsidies, registrations may continue to struggle in the months ahead.

Diesel also saw declines in June, with 18.3% fewer registrations, equating to 20,776 units. However, unlike most other European markets, the fuel still holds a good share of the country’s registrations, with its 13% in June comfortably above BEV and PHEV results.

Petrol, meanwhile, saw improvement, with 42,630 registrations giving the fuel type a 6.9% rise year on year. This was enough for the drivetrain to gain a 26.6% market share, although this is down 2.1pp compared to June 2023. Overall, ICE registrations fell 2.9% in the month, with their combined 39.6% market share narrowly beating the hybrid market alone.

Spain stagnates

According to figures from ANFAC, registrations in Spain grew by 2.2% in June, with 103,357 deliveries. While this is yet another positive result for the country, the industry authority believes more is needed to see true growth.

‘The passenger car market remains stagnant during the month of June. The holiday period has not taken off as we expected, and we are only growing slightly above 2%. This increase was achieved on the last day of the month,’ highlighted Félix García, director of communications and marketing at ANFAC.

‘Looking at the positives, we continue the path to achieve the desired million new passenger cars sold in a year, something that has not happened since 2019. However, we saw that in June, individuals and companies have slowed down their pace of buying new cars.’

Garcia also stated that the extension of the MOVES incentive scheme until the end of the year will help to prevent a sudden stop to EV volumes, which have seen registrations decline in the last two months when compared to 2023.

EV escapades

Spain is another of the big markets to have struggled with BEV uptake this year, with lower volumes than Italy for most of 2024, although it has a better market share for the technology in the year to date.

In June, registrations of all-electric models improved by 1%, with 5,530 units. However, this was up by just 56 units compared to last year. The technology’s market share remained stable at 5.4%.

On the other hand, the PHEV market performed badly. A total of 5,199 units were registered in the month according to Autovista24 calculations, down by 19.2% compared to June 2023. This left the powertrain with a 5% market share, down 1.4pp year on year.

Overall, the EV market declined 9.9%. It took just 10.4% of the overall market, down from the 11.8% hold recorded one year ago, highlighting Spain’s struggles.

High on hybrids

The country was saved in June by the performance of its hybrid market, incorporating both HEVs and MHEVs. In the month, 37,529 new models took to Spanish roads, a 23.5% improvement in registrations. Without the segment, the country would have seen a 6.9% delivery drop, according to Autovista24 calculations.

This meant the powertrain grew ever closer to becoming the dominant technology in the market, with a 36.3% share behind only that of petrol. This was a 6.2pp improvement on the same period last year.

Petrol continued to lead the way in terms of volume, although its 40,444-unit total in June was down by 7.5%. This saw the fuel’s market share slip, from 43.3% in 2023, to a 39.1% hold in the month.

Diesel struggled too, albeit with lower volumes. Registrations were down 2.9%, with 12,031 deliveries giving the powertrain an 11.6% market share. This was a 0.7pp decline year on year.

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