UK leads the way in 2013 car sales as EU sees strong demand

Demand for new cars in the EU-27 surged to 5.4 per cent in September, to 1.19 million vehicles, from the record low volumes seen in September 2012. This was led by Spanish growth of 28.5 per cent and 12.1 per cent in the UK (403,000 vehicles) reports the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, ACEA.

September's gain was the biggest since August 2011. From January to September (which included an extra working day this year), new car registrations declined by 3.9 per cent, compared to the first nine months of 2012, with a total of 9,000,629 vehicles. In the UK, September marks the second issue of new number plates.

Demand in Spain raced forward, owing to a state-backed discount scheme on vehicle trade-ins. The markets gains seem to signal returning optimism, with consumers starting to buy, rather than holding off or repairing current vehicles.

20-year record lows in August left industry watchers waiting for signs of recovery, and hopes that the depression signalled the usual artificial depression caused by summer holidays.

In the nine months to September, the UK saw the only significant increase - 10.8 per cent. Other major markets saw downturns in the number of registrations, from -1.6 per cent in Spain, to -6.0 per cent in Germany. Italy and France saw decreases of 8.3 per cent and 8.5 per cent respectively. This led to an overall contraction for the EU-27 of 3.9 per cent (compared to the first nine months of 2012).

In terms of production, Renault and Daimler saw the biggest gains last month, with the former increasing sales 17 per cent in September. Daimler reported strong results (14 per cent) on sales of its Mercedez-Benz, as did Volvo, whose gain of 13 per cent contrasted to a weak performance for the rest of 2013.