Purchases of new cars in EU at 17-year low

City A.M. Reporter
DEMAND for new cars in recession-struck Europe fell to a 17-year low in 2012, according to industry figures released yesterday.

Yet motorists in the UK are bucking the downward trend seen elsewhere on the continent.

Passenger car registrations across the European Union plummeted by 8.2 per cent last year – the sharpest decline since 1993.

And the year ended on a particularly harsh note for the car industry, with registrations down 16.3 per cent in December compared to the same month a year earlier.

“Over the whole year [2012], demand for new cars reached the lowest level recorded since 1995, totalling 12,053,904 units,” the report by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said.

However, the figures showed registrations in the UK growing by 5.3 per cent last year, in contrast to the gloom in most other peer countries.

In Germany registrations were down 2.9 per cent, yet in neighbouring France they plunged 13.9 per cent.

In Spain and Italy car registrations in 2012 were down 13.4 per cent and 19.9 per cent respectively.

“The actual decline is much worse than the statistics would have us believe as sales figures for the year were artificially inflated as a result of self-registrations by dealers and automakers, especially in the region’s biggest market, Germany,” said Ernst & Young partner Peter Fuss.

Even Germany’s mighty Volkswagen suffered a drop in sales, according to the ACEA. Yet South Korean brands Hyundai and Kia, which are making an aggressive push in Europe, proved it is possible to expand sales even during a grim economic downturn.