Car sales in the European Union declined by 7% during the first half of 2012. Growth in the UK and Germany was offset by weakness in other European markets.
During the first half of 2012, Europe saw a decline of 6.8% in new passenger vehicle registrations compared to the first six months of 2011. In the European Union (EU) a total of 6,644,829 cars were sold during the first semester of 2012. Germany remains Western Europe’s largest car market while the UK moved into second position as France slipped to third. Weak sales in Italy saw new passenger vehicle registrations falling below a million cars for the first half of 2012.
Total car sales in Western Europe (EU plus EFTA) for the first half of 2012 were 6,896,348 (-6.3%) cars.
European Car Sales by Country in 2012 (First Half)
Car sales statistics released by the ACEA for new passenger vehicle registrations in Western Europe during the first half of 2012:
|Jan – Jun 2012||Jan – Jun 2011||% Chg|
|EUROPEAN UNION (EU27)*||6,644,829||7,130,655||-6.8|
|* Exclude Malta||Source: ACEA|
West European Car Market during 2012 (First Half)
The European car market during the first half of 2012 was weak as expected with growth in the UK market (+2.7%) and a steady German market preventing even weaker figures. Growth in the two largest markets – Britain overtook France to become the second-largest car market in Europe after Germany – were offset by very weak performances in France (-14%) and Italy (-20%).
The strongest growth was in the very small markets of Iceland (+59%), Hungary (+20%), and Estonia (19%). Car sales in Switzerland (+12%) were helped by a change in the taxation regime from July 2012 and the market will probably be less buoyant during the second half of the year. Poland (+8%) and The Netherlands (+1.3%) were the only other markets larger than 100,000 cars to have achieved growth during the start of 2012.
Portugal (-42%) and Greece (-41%) were not surprisingly the weakest car markets in Europe during the first half of 2012. However, the main problem for the European car market remains weakness in Italy and France. The decline in sales in Italy during the first six months of 2012 alone was four times the number of cars sold on the Portuguese car market.
Although sales were above average during June 2012, the European car market is unlikely to recover during the second half of 2012. Despite weakness in the European market, German car manufacturers had record starts to the year during the first half of 2012 with very strong sales in, especially China. Volkswagen was also the best-selling car brand and manufacturer in Europe for the first half of 2012.