Western European car registrations increase

The latest IHS Markit data suggest that the Western European passenger car market has had a one-off surge of 26.3% y/y during August, thanks to OEMs registering non-WLTP-compliant vehicles.

This performance, which has resulted in a record-breaking SAAR, is not expected to continue and is more likely to result in a softening in the next few months. Nevertheless, IHS Markit currently forecasts that registrations will increase by 1.1 per cent y/y to 14.5 million units before beginning to decline the following year.

Registrations during the month are forecast to have grown by 26.3% year on year (y/y) to 1,1013,851 units. This has led to a year-to-date (YTD) forecast of 10,139,565 units, a gain of 4.8 per cent y/y. Furthermore, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) stood at 18.364 million units, while the final trend cycle stood at 15.175 million units.

German passenger car market registrations during August rose 24.7% y/y to 316,045 units. The result pushed the YTD result for the first two-thirds of the year up by 6.4 per cent y/y to 2,473,284 units.

Passenger car registrations in France jumped by 40% y/y, increasing from 107,449 units to 150,391 units. There was no benefit from working-day factors. Registrations in the YTD have now grown by 8.9 per cent y/y to 1,513,937 units.

The Italian passenger car market gained by 9.3 per cent y/y to 91,551 units. This has relieved further downward pressure on the market in the YTD, although it still ended this eight-month period down by 0.1 per cent y/y to 1,364,773 units.

The Spanish passenger car market jumped by a further 48.7% y/y to 107,692 units in August. This has helped to maintain a strong growth trajectory in the YTD, with an increase of 14.6% y/y to 973,517 units.

The UK passenger car market was another to see a large increase during August. Registrations increased by 23.1% y/y to 94,094 units. However, despite the scale of improvement this month, registrations remain down firmly in the YTD. For the first eight months of 2018, registrations have retreated by 4.2 per cent y/y to 1,571,986 units.

As can be seen from the highlighted data above, Western Europe has seen a terrific swing this month. Indeed, as IHS Markit automotive economist Nigel Griffiths notes, this is a record-high SAAR in this market, which had previously peaked at 15.6 million. He noted that this ‘clearly shows exceptional and temporary pre-registration activity associated with the move to Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) vehicles from 1 September.’