We take a closer look at how new car sales are performing across Europe and the picture is not looking rosy.
The latest figures in February from the European Automotive Manufacturers Association (ACEA) revealed passenger car registrations were down 2.9% in the first two months of this year.
The figures show the European market as a whole reduced by 1% in February 2019 compared to the same time last year although a few markets did show some recovery. Germany, for example, showed an increase of 2.7% after five months of decline, France was up 2.1% and here in the UK there was a 1.4% boost. It was a different story elsewhere with Spain experiencing a drop of 8.8% and in Italy a 2.4% decrease in registrations signified the sixth successive month of decline.
From January to February new car registrations in the EU fell by 2.9% with Spain hit hard with a 8.4% decline and Italy with -4.9%, Germany and France saw a 0.6% and 0.5% increase respectively whilst the first month of the year saw the UK down by 0.6%.
This followed on from a slow start to the year which saw a 4.6% decline across EU markets compared to 2018. December 2018 had been the fourth month in a row that the new car market had fell with registrations down by 8.4% compared to the same time the year before with the introduction of WLTP emission regulations in September largely to blame.
However, electric vehicle sales are soaring. According to a report in The Guardian there are now more than a million electric cars in Europe with sales increasing by 40% in the first half of 2018. The figure was reached a year after China but ahead of the US.
By the end of Q418, ACEA figures showed market share for diesel had plummeted from 41.2% to 34.1% whilst petrol gained more ground to take 57.2% of market share, up from 52.3%. EVs accounted for 2.7% of new car registrations and alternatively-powered vehicles or APVs combined made up 8.6% of registrations in 2018. Last year, 56.7% of newly registered passenger vehicles in the EU were petrol powered, 35.9% were diesel and 2.0% were electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECVs).
In the fourth quarter of 2018, APV registrations grew by 21.1% with ECVs enjoying the biggest gains, 33.1% up on the same time last year with the battery-electric segment leaping by a massive 88.7%. However plug-in hybrids experienced their first decline since 2016 with 7.9% fewer registrations. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) were up 31.1% in Q418 compared to Q417 and accounted for more than half of all APV registrations. But LPG and NGV registrations dropped by 13.8%.