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

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

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.

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:

  • Only three European country markets contracted during the first quarter of 2016 compared to last year: Greece, The Netherland and Switzerland.
  • The fastest expansion was in the two smallest markets: Iceland and Cyprus. In Ireland and Portugal car sales increased by more than a quarter.
  • Nearly 300,000 more cars were sold in Europe during the first quarter of 2016. Italy alone contributed around 90,000.

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