2012 (Q3) Europe: Car Sales by EU Countries

The West European car market weakened further during the third quarter of 2012. Germany remains the biggest European car market followed by Britain and France.

Land Rover Evoque
Photo: Land Rover

Car sales continue to decline in Western Europe during the first nine months of 2012 with total sales falling below 10 million units. September 2012 saw sales sliding for the twelfth consecutive month. The UK was the only major European Union car market to have shown positive growth while new passenger vehicle registrations in Italy and France were sharply down. Car sales in the European Union were down 7.6% to 9.37 million cars for the first three quarters of 2012.

Cars Sales in the European Union and EFTA Countries in 2012 (Q3)

New passenger vehicle registrations for the first nine months of 2012 were as follows in West European countries according to car sales statistics released by the ACEA:

Jan – SepJan – Sep% Chg
 20122011 
AUSTRIA266,890273,539-2.4
BELGIUM386,733440,546-12.2
BULGARIA14,25214,354-0.7
CYPRUS8,89211,026-19.4
CZECH REPUBLIC131,059127,485+2.8
DENMARK128,493127,230+1.0
ESTONIA13,31411,405+16.7
FINLAND88,926100,109-11.2
FRANCE1,431,5091,661,271-13.8
GERMANY2,358,7982,401,736-1.8
GREECE45,53579,231-42.5
HUNGARY39,31733,815+16.3
IRELAND76,63087,163-12.1
ITALY1,090,6271,371,117-20.5
LATVIA7,9957,777+2.8
LITHUANIA9,1909,956-7.7
LUXEMBURG39,09039,609-1.3
NETHERLANDS428,191453,882-5.7
POLAND207,063202,544+2.2
PORTUGAL74,461123,464-39.7
ROMANIA49,12855,881-12.1
SLOVAKIA53,84549,954+7.8
SLOVENIA38,70746,378-16.5
SPAIN555,362623,921-11.0
SWEDEN203,711227,636-10.5
UNITED KINGDOM1,620,6091,553,094+4.3
EUROPEAN UNION (EU27)*9,368,32710,134,123-7.6
ICELAND6,3714,082+56.1
NORWAY104,199102,895+1.3
SWITZERLAND245,526232,738+5.5
EFTA356,096339,715+4.8
EU27*+EFTA9,724,42310,473,838-7.2

*Note: ACEA statistics exclude the small Malta market.

Declining Car Sales in Western Europe in 2012 (Q3)

September 2012 marked the twelfth consecutive month of a year on year decline in new passenger vehicle registrations in West Europe. Year to date, sales in 2012 were down by 7.6% to 9,368,327 cars (10,133,123 in 2011) in the member countries of the European Union. Growth in the EFTA member states was still positive but these markets are too small to make a significant impact on the overall negative picture.

The British car market, which had overtaken France to become the second largest in Europe, was the only major passenger vehicle market to have shown positive growth during the first nine months of 2012. New passenger vehicle registrations were up 4.3% (+2.7 mid-year) in the UK with September 2012 up 8%.

All the other major car markets in Europe weakened during the first three quarters of 2012. Germany, still by far the largest car market in Western Europe, saw sales slipping by 1.8% compared to +0.7% mid-year 2012. However, the continued weakness in Italy and France weighed heaviest on the European car market.

Greece and Portugal continue to show the largest declines in new passenger vehicle registrations. In all, eleven European Union countries saw new car markets contract by double-digit percentages during the first nine months of 2012.

EFTA countries continue to buy new cars. However, even here sales are slowing in Switzerland – mid-year figures showed a 12% increase vs only 5.5% for the first three third quarters of 2012. Car sales in Iceland continue to recover (+56%) but the market is so small that five cars sales a month can move the market by a percentage point.

Volkswagen remained the strongest car manufacturer and best-selling brand in Europe during the first nine months of 2012.

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in online writing. His best-selling cars website has been reporting car sales statistics since 2008 with classic car auction prices focusing on the most expensive automobiles sold at public auctions in the past decade. He also owns the travel websites European-Traveler.com and Lake Geneva Switzerland. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Finance from the University of London.