In 2012, Germany remained the largest car market in Europe with second place Britain the only major market seeing an increase in new passenger vehicle registrations.
2012 saw a further decline in the West European car market. New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union and EFTA countries were down 7.8% to 12,5 million. Germany, the largest single car market in Europe contracted slightly while the United Kingdom was the only major market to have experienced growth in 2012. Britain is now the second-largest car market in the European Union while France slipped to third with sales below the two million mark. New passenger vehicle registrations were also sharply down in Italy and Spain.
The European Car Market in 2012
In 2012, the European car market (EU and EFTA countries) contracted by 7.8% to 12.527,912 new passenger vehicle registrations. For the European Union countries (excluding Malta), the decline was an even worse 8.2% with 12,053,904 cars sold – over a million fewer vehicles than in 2011.
The European car market in 2012 was at its lowest since 1995. The decline in sales was the steepest since the -16.9% downturn in 1993. December 2012 saw the fifteenth consecutive month of lower year-on-year monthly car sales in Europe.
New Passenger Vehicle Registration in Europe in 2012
According to car sales data released by the ACEA, new passenger vehicle registrations per European Union and EFTA countries in 2012 were:
|EUROPEAN UNION (EU27)*||12,053,904||13,130,466||-8.2|
*ACEA statistics exclude data from Malta.
Changes in the European Car Market in 2012
In 2012, car sales in Europe declined by over a million automobiles compared to 2011. This decline was mostly due to a downturn in several major markets: the car markets in France and Italy were down around 300,000 vehicles each while the Spanish, German and Belgium markets shrank by around 100,000 vehicles each. The British car market was the only market where growth really translated into a significant number of additional vehicles sold in 2012.
In 2012, Germany easily remained the largest single car market in Europe. Despite a slight contraction, especially during the second half of the year, German car sales remained above the three million-vehicle mark and a million more than second-place Britain.
The UK was the only large market to experience growth – especially towards year-end when other European car markets were particularly weak – and surpassed France to become the second-largest car market in Europe in 2012.
The French car market contracted to below two million cars in 2012, with the Italian market even sharply down to below 1.5 million new passenger vehicle registrations. The Spanish and Dutch markets were also sharply down with the Belgian market slipping below the half-million mark.
Switzerland had a positive year in 2012 with the second strongest car market ever – sales were only higher in 1989. However, growth here translates into fewer than ten thousand cars per year. Other positive markets similarly contribute little to the number of cars sold in Europe in 2012.
The biggest declines in the European car market in 2012 were again Greece and Portugal. The Greek market lost another 40% to fewer than 60,000 cars in – in 2007, the Greek car market was just shy of 280,000 passenger vehicles.
In 2012, Volkswagen was again the strongest car manufacturer in Europe with the VW Golf the best-selling car model.