2013 (Full Year) Europe: Car Sales by European Union and EFTA Countries

In 2013, new passenger vehicle registrations in Europe contracted by 1.7% to below 12 million cars. Germany and Britain were the largest markets in the EU.

VW Golf Production
Volkswagen remains market leader in Europe in 2013 Β© Volkswagen Media Services

In 2013, car sales in the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) declined by 1.8% to 12,308,215 vehicles. Germany remained the largest single-country market in Europe but Britain was the only major car market to have seen a marked increase in in new passenger vehicle registrations in 2013.

The European Car Market in 2013

The European Union car market contracted by 1.7% during 2013 to 11,850,905 new passenger vehicle registration. If the EFTA member countries are added, the market contracted by 1.8% to 12,308,215 cars.

2013 marked the sixth consecutive year of passenger vehicle market contraction in Europe. It was the worst year for the EU15 since 1995 and the worst for the EU since the current statistical series started in 2003.

Although the European car market contracted over the full twelve-month period of 2013, the market did markedly better during the second half of the year. Mid-year 2013, the European car market was still down 6.6% while the first quarter of 2013 saw a contraction of 9.7%. By Q3, the European car market was down 3.9% with positive growth every month (year-on-year) since September 2013.

The 2014 predictions are for 2% growth in the European car market.

Car Sales per European Union & EFTA Countries in 2013 (Full Year)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the respective EU and EFTA countries according to car sales statistics released by theΒ ACEAΒ were:

2013 2012 % Change
AUSTRIA 319’035 336’010 -5.1
BELGIUM 486’065 486’737 -0.1
BULGARIA 19’352 19’419 -0.3
CYPRUS 7’102 10’967 -35.2
CZECH REPUBLIC 164’736 174’009 -5.3
DENMARK 182’198 170’813 +6.7
ESTONIA 19’500 17’267 +12.9
FINLAND 103’450 111’258 -7.0
FRANCE 1’790’456 1’898’760 -5.7
GERMANY 2’952’431 3’082’504 -4.2
GREECE 58’694 58’482 +0.4
HUNGARY 56’139 53’059 +5.8
IRELAND 74’303 79’574 -6.6
ITALY 1’303’534 1’403’010 -7.1
LATVIA 10’637 10’664 -0.3
LITHUANIA 12’152 12’170 -0.1
LUXEMBURG 46’624 50’398 -7.5
NETHERLANDS 417’036 502’479 -17.0
POLAND 289’913 272’719 +6.3
PORTUGAL 105’921 95’309 +11.1
ROMANIA 57’710 66’436 -13.1
SLOVAKIA 66’000 69’268 -4.7
SLOVENIA 50’878 48’648 +4.6
SPAIN 722’703 699’589 +3.3
SWEDEN 269’599 279’899 -3.7
UNITED KINGDOM 2’264’737 2’044’609 +10.8
EUROPEAN UNION (EU27)* 11’850’905 12’054’057 -1.7
ICELAND 7’274 7’930 -8.3
NORWAY 142’151 137’967 +3.0
SWITZERLAND 307’885 328’139 -6.2
EFTA 457’310 474’036 -3.5
EU27*+EFTA 12’308’215 12’528’093 -1.8

Car Sales in European Countries in 2013 (Full Year)

In 2013, Germany remained the largest car market in Europe but the 4.2% contraction dragged the whole European market down. Car sales in Germany slipped below 3 million cars and in the European Union to below 12 million passenger vehicles.

Car sales in the United Kingdom continued to grow strongly in 2013 with the British car market expanding by more than a tenth. The British market is now comfortably ahead of the French car market, which continued to shrink. The Italian car market similarly contracted further in 2013. A tax increase in Italy in October came without warning and did not allow many buyers to move purchases forward.

The Spanish market turned positive again in 2013 but with incentives running out, it is as yet unclear whether the upturn will continue in 2014. The Belgian car market was flat but with the Dutch market very weak managed to slip into sixth place in Europe. Car sales in The Netherlands were very strong at the end of the year partly to avoid higher taxes payable from 2014 – over the full year only Cyprus performed worse.

A few further interesting statistics:

  • Estonia and Portugal had the strongest growth in 2013 but it is really Britain that provided the unit increases.
  • The car market in Cyprus contracted by more than a third in 2013 but the biggest damage was done by weakness in Germany, France and Italy where each market lost around 100,000 car sales compared to a year ago.
  • The Greek market showed growth for the first time in years but in 2013 was about a fifth the size of the market in 2007.

Volkswagen was again the largest car manufacturer and brand in Europe in 2013 with the VW Golf the most popular car model.

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.