UK bucks trend as car demand slips across EU

EVERY significant car manufacturing country in the EU saw a decline in registrations of new passenger vehicles between May 2012 and May 2013, with the exception of the UK.

Italy, France, Germany and Spain, the other EU countries that produced over 50,000 new passenger cars, all saw declines, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said yesterday. UK registrations rose by a buoyant 11 per cent over the period.

Overall, registrations in the EU were down 5.9 per cent, driven by the falls in the largest Eurozone economies.

Germany and France, two of the other top three producers in Europe, saw declines of 9.9 per cent and 10.4 per cent respectively.

The UK recorded more new cars than France in May this year, with 180,111 registrations to 148,490. France was narrowly producing more than the UK at the same time last year. The PSA, Renault, GM and Fiat Groups all saw contractions of more than a tenth over the 12 months to May. The VW and BMW groups also suffered from declining demand, but at a less dramatic rate.

Both Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan, which produce some of their cars in the UK, saw strong growth.

Some less prominent car manufacturing countries, like Sweden and Belgium, saw improvements over the year. However, others, like the Netherlands, saw severe reductions, from 47,758 units in May last year to only 30,089 registrations last month.

Figures released earlier this month indicated that car purchases in the UK were reaching levels last seen before the financial crisis, and the UK became a net exporter of cars again in 2012, for the first time since 1976.

Other manufacturing sectors have been much less buoyant and are still only seeing shallow recoveries.