January to September 2017: The European new car market grew by 3.6% with Germany, the UK, France and Italy the largest car markets in the EU.
During the first three quarters of 2017, new car sales in the European Union and EFTA grew by 3.6% to just over 12 million cars. Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Spain remained the five largest car markets in the EU but sales grew fastest in some of the newer EU members from Eastern Europe. The British and Irish markets were the only European new car markets with significant lower new passenger vehicle registrations thus far in 2017.
The European New Car Market in 2017 (Q1 – Q3)
New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries increased by 3.6% to 12,026,194 cars during the first nine months of 2017. Registrations in the EU alone were up 3.7% to 11,660,121 – nearly 220,000 cars more than in 2016.
New car sales in the European Union were lower in September 2017 for the first time since October 2016. The car market contracted by 2% in September 2017 and although that is from a record high in September 2016 there is some weakness appearing in the two largest new car market. Car sales in the UK were down 9% in September and in Germany down 3.3%.
Car Sales per European Union and EFTA Country in 2017 (Q1-3)
New passenger vehicle registrations in respective European Union (EU) and EFTA countries were as follows according to data released by the ACEA:
|EU COUNTRY||Q1-3/2017||Q1-3/2016||% Change|
|EU + EFTA||12,026,194||11,608,039||+3.6|
Car Sales in European Countries in 2017 (Q1 – Q3)
There were no changes in the rank order of the ten largest new car markets in the European Union and EFTA during the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. With the exception of Britain, all major markets expanded.
Germany remained by far the largest car market in Europe during the first three quarters of 2017. The German car market expanded by a below average 2.2% but that was still sufficient to add more than 55,000 extra cars to the market. However, the German market seemed a bit less buoyant in the third quarter compared to the first half of 2017. The German car market was particularly hindered by a very weak performance by Volkswagen – a development that may be very positive for the European car market in the long run.
The British car market continued to shrink with sales down by 4% thus far this year. Although this contraction comes after several years of strong growth, there is clearly weakness in the market due to both larger political uncertainty but also lingering questions about future regulations of especially diesel cars. New passenger vehicle registrations in the UK was down 9% in September 2017 – traditionally the second most-important month for car sales in Britain.
Car sales in France increased by 4% during the first three quarters of 2017 to add 58,000 cars to the market. The Italian new car market grew even faster with a 9% increase adding 128,000 cars to the market. The gap between the Italian and French car market shrunk from nearly 100,000 cars to only 27,000 with the Italian market at times bigger than the French market this year.
The Spanish new car market expanded by 6.7% – some 600,000 cars behind the Italian market. The Belgian car market grew by 2.6% to about half the overall size of the Spanish market.
The Polish new car market grew the fastest of the top-ten largest markets in Europe when expanding by over 17%. After years of decline, the Dutch market grew by a solid 14%. The Swedish market grew just below market average while the Austrian car market remained the tenth largest in the EU with 7% growth.
The worst performing car markets in the EU and EFTA thus far in 2017 were Ireland (-10.2%), Britain (-3.9%), Finland (-0.6%) and Switzerland (-0.3%). These were the only four countries with weaker car sales in 2017.
The fastest growing car markets in the EU were all from newer members in Eastern Europe: Lithuania (22.7%), Croatia (21.3%), Hungary (19%), Bulgaria (18.1%) and Poland (17.3%).
Despite loosing market share, the Volkswagen Group remained the largest car manufacturer in Europe with Volkswagen the top-selling brand despite weaker sales: see 2017 (Q3) Europe: Best-Selling Car Manufacturers and Brands.