2018 (Q3) Europe: Car Sales per European Union and EFTA Country

January to September 2018: New passenger vehicle registrations in the EU and EFTA countries increased by 2.3% with Germany, Britain and France the largest markets.

Ferrari Portofino at Geneva 2018

New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union and EFTA countries increased moderately during the first three quarters of 2018 to just over 12 million cars. The largest car markets in Europe remained Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Spain. The German new car market expanded only moderately in 2018 while the British and Italian markets contracted. In contrast, the French and Spanish markets expanded by over 100,000 cars each during the first nine months of 2018.

European New Car Market in 2018 (Q1 – Q3)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries increased by 2.3% during the first nine months of 2018 to 12,304,711 cars. Car sales in the EU were up by 2.5% to 11,951,957 cars – around 300,000 cars more than during the first three quarters of 2018.

The total market is probably slightly below potential as new emission and consumption regulations (WLTP) left many manufacturers unable to register many cars since September 2018. New passenger vehicle registrations were up around a third in August but down by a quarter in September. The effect should balance out during the final quarter of the year but low numbers were also likely for October.

Car Sales Per European Union and EFTA Country

New passenger vehicle registrations during the first nine months of 2018 were as follows per European Union and EFTA country according the ACEA:

Q1-3/2018 Q1-3/2017 %Change 18/17
AUSTRIA 275,758 269,878 +2.2
BELGIUM 455,722 435,341 +4.7
BULGARIA 26,443 22,098 +19.7
CROATIA 50,081 41,281 +21.3
CYPRUS 10,396 10,333 +0.6
CZECH REPUBLIC 207,784 205,511 +1.1
DENMARK 170,044 168,702 +0.8
ESTONIA 20,519 18,967 +8.2
FINLAND 97,730 92,096 +6.1
FRANCE 1,662,682 1,560,879 +6.5
GERMANY 2,673,418 2,611,821 +2.4
GREECE 84,076 69,858 +20.4
HUNGARY 104,612 82,701 +26.5
IRELAND 123,087 128,548 -4.2
ITALY 1,491,261 1,534,349 -2.8
LATVIA 13,158 12,702 +3.6
LITHUANIA 24,328 19,159 +27.0
LUXEMBOURG 42,369 40,872 +3.7
NETHERLANDS 359,381 322,931 +11.3
POLAND 403,343 355,461 +13.5
PORTUGAL 182,677 171,552 +6.5
ROMANIA 103,595 78,769 +31.5
SLOVAKIA 75,721 71,335 +6.1
SLOVENIA 58,452 54,115 +8.0
SPAIN 1,042,672 933,142 +11.7
SWEDEN 281,828 279,839 +0.7
UNITED KINGDOM 1,910,820 2,066,411 -7.5
EUROPEAN UNION 11,951,957 11,658,651 +2.5
ICELAND 15,968 18,261 -12.6
NORWAY 111,500 116,358 -4.2
SWITZERLAND 225,286 231,483 -2.7
EFTA 352,754 366,102 -3.6
EU + EFTA 12,304,711 12,024,753 +2.3
Source: ACEA

Car Sales in European Union Countries in 2018 (Q1 – Q3)

Despite the chaos caused by the new WLTP regulations for registrations in August and September (and probably for the next couple of months too), new passenger vehicle registrations thus far this year have been stronger in almost all European Union countries with the exception of the UK, Ireland and Italy. All three EFTA countries had lower car sales thus far in 2018.

There were no changes in the rank order of the ten largest single country markets in Europe during the first three quarters of 2018 compared the same nine months a year ago:

Germany remained by far the largest new car market in Europe with growth in line with the EU average. The German market was hit particularly hard by the WLTP effect with the Volkswagen Group seemingly largely unprepared for the change.

The UK remained the second largest country market but had by far the worst performance of any EU market. Car sales in Britain thus far this year were down 7.5% or around 150,000 vehicles.

In contrast, the French new car market grew by 100,000 vehicles to pull well ahead of fourth place Italy that had weaker growth.

The Spanish market grew by 12%, or more than 110,000 cars to top the million-car mark.

The Belgian new car market grew by 5% while the Polish and Dutch markets expanded by double-digit figures. The Swedish and Austrian new car markets were relatively flat.

The fastest growing new car markets thus far in 2018 were Romania, Lithuania, Hungary, Croatia, Greece and Bulgaria – all expanding by at least a fifth. Spain and France had the highest unit growth – each up by more than 100,000 cars.

The worst performing new car market thus far in 2018 were Iceland, the UK, Ireland, Norway, Italy and Switzerland.

The Volkswagen Group remained Europe’s largest car manufacturer with Volkswagen the largest brand and the VW Golf the top-selling car model.

Car Sales Statistics Per European Union Countries

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.