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2016 (Q1) Europe: Car Sales per EU & EFTA Country

by Henk Bekker

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New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union increased by 8.1% to almost 4 million cars during the first quarter of 2016. Germany and the UK were again the largest markets but Italy took third place from France during the first three months of 2016. Greece, The Netherlands and Switzerland were the only car markets in the European Union and EFTA to have contracted at the start of 2016.

McLaren 570S (white) and McLaren 570GT (blue) at the Geneva Auto Show 2016

The European New Car Market in 2016 (Q1)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union and EFTA expanded by 8.1% during the first quarter of 2016 to 3,931,903 cars. In the EU alone, the market grew by 8.2% to 3,819,259.

In March 2016, the European new car market expanded for the 31st consecutive month with figures close to the number of cars sold in March 2007 prior to the start of the financial crisis. In many parts of Europe, car sales in March 2016 were the highest single month in nine years.

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Car sales in many European countries were negatively influenced by Easter falling in March in 2016 compared to April in 2015. In the larger European markets, this effect was particularly noticeable in Germany were sales in March were flat and in Spain were sales were marginally weaker.

Car Sales per European Union and EFTA Country in 2016 (Q1)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union (EU) and EFTA were as following during the first quarter of 2016 according to the ACEA:

Q1/2016

Q1/2015

% Change

EU + EFTA

3,931,903

3,638,574

8.1

AUSTRIA

78,455

75,154

4.4

BELGIUM

150,456

147,073

2.3

BULGARIA

5,399

5,008

7.8

CROATIA

8,732

7,961

9.7

CYPRUS

3,268

2,434

34.3

CZECH REPUBLIC

59,598

53,265

11.9

DENMARK

52,264

49,622

5.3

ESTONIA

5,428

4,792

13.3

FINLAND

33,087

29,356

12.7

FRANCE

516,382

477,319

8.2

GERMANY

791,424

757,630

4.5

GREECE

15,326

17,271

-11.3

HUNGARY

19,688

17,066

15.4

IRELAND

82,816

64,519

28.4

ITALY

519,123

429,615

20.8

LATVIA

3,883

3,210

21

LITHUANIA

4,602

3,758

22.5

LUXEMBURG

12,965

11,856

9.4

NETHERLANDS

98,558

109,702

-10.2

POLAND

104,688

91,670

14.2

PORTUGAL

58,427

46,228

26.4

ROMANIA

17,471

14,433

21

SLOVAKIA

20,024

16,593

20.7

SLOVENIA

16,691

15,647

6.7

SPAIN

285,495

267,142

6.9

SWEDEN

83,229

75,733

9.9

UNITED KINGDOM

771,780

734,588

5.1

EUROPEAN UNION

3,819,259

3,528,645

8.2

ICELAND

3,599

2,287

57.4

NORWAY

37,088

35,367

4.9

SWITZERLAND

71,957

72,275

-0.4

EFTA

112,644

109,929

2.5

All figures exclude Malta.

New Passenger Vehicle Registrations in Europe in 2016 (Q1)

During the first quarter of 2016, Europe’s two largest new car markets remained Germany and the UK. Both markets grew similarly below the European average with the German market up 4.5% and the British market expanding by 5.1%. The British market usually has its best month of the year in March due to the British registration number system while the German market usually performs better than the British market during the second quarter.

The Italian market increased by over a fifth – the best improvement of the larger markets – to take third place from France, despite the French market showing solid market average growth.

Of the other ten largest country markets, Poland was bigger than the Netherlands this year while Ireland leaped two placed from 12th a year ago to replace Austria as the tenth largest car market in Europe.

A few further salient features from the car sales statistics for Europe for the first quarter of 2016:

Despite weaker sales, Volkswagen remained Europe’s strongest selling car brand with the VW Golf Europe’s favorite car model.

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