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EU car sales slump on one-off effect

October 17, 2018

New car sales have taken a dive across the EU. But according to a trade group's analysis, the marked decrease is solely attributable to the introduction of a new emissions test cycle and a sales peak before its launch.

Serbien Kragujevac Fiat Fabrik
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Suki

The market for new vehicles in the European Union shrank considerably in September, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) reported in its monthly bulletin Wednesday.

It said about 1.09 million cars were sold in the bloc last month, marking a 23.5 percent reduction year on year. It hastened to add, though, that the steep decline had been expected.

"This should not come as a surprise," ACEA commented, explaining that the sales drop followed a year-on-year surge of 31.2 percent registered in August when cars were not compliant with new emissions standards introduced on September 1 and were sold at huge discounts.

The new standards called the Worldwide Harmonized Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) have meant that finishing the test cycle for new models takes longer than before, causing output delays at many companies.

VW sales up despite pollution scandal

The one-off effect is put in perspective, if you look at sales in the January-to-September period. It shows the EU car market kept growing, with 11.95 million units sold, up 2.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Demand for new vehicles rose strongest in Spain where sales surged by 11.7 percent (+2.4 percent in Germany). In pre-Brexit Britain, though, demand declined by 7.5 percent in the nine-month period under review.

EU market leader Volkswagen Group took a 24.2 percent share of overall sales in the EU, an improvement from the 23.5 percent quota logged in the first nine months of 2017.

French group PSA and Renault remained second and third in the market share ranking, followed by Fiat-Chrysler and Ford.

New test causing bottleneck at VW

hg/aos (Reuters, dpa)