Picture: NEWSPRESS UK
Picture: NEWSPRESS UK

Berlin — European car demand rose at a slower pace in June as fewer selling days in Germany and Brexit-related concerns in the UK weighed on a peaking vehicle market.

Industrywide registrations increased 2.1% from a year earlier to 1.54-million vehicles in June, with Toyota and Fiat models posting the biggest gains, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), said on Friday in a statement. While the sales figure marked the strongest June since 2007, the growth lagged behind May’s 7.7% jump.

Europe’s car market is at an inflection point, with momentum set to wane in the second half of 2017 after more than three years of recovery from a two-decade low. Buyers in Britain have been particularly cautious due to economic uncertainty as the country prepares to exit the EU. Soaring consumer confidence and an appetite for attractive new city cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have pushed up demand elsewhere in the region.

Deliveries in Italy posted the strongest gain among Europe’s largest economies, with a 13% surge in June. Registrations in Germany, which observed three Christian holidays in June, fell 3.5%. Sales in the UK dropped 4.8% as the effects of political strife over the pending EU pullout were compounded by a weak pound and a vehicle-excise tax that took effect in April.

First-half registrations rose 4.6% to 8.46-million vehicles. The Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association compiles numbers from the EU’s 28 member countries, excluding Malta, plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

Compacts’ success

Toyota’s 13% increase in June was buoyed by rising demand for its hybrid models, while Fiat Chrysler rode the success of the Panda and Fiat 500 subcompacts to a 7.9% gain.

Regional industry leader Volkswagen’s market share widened to 23.3% in June from 23.1% a year earlier thanks to the growing popularity of its affordable Seat and Skoda brands and SUV demand at the Porsche luxury unit. Its biggest marques, the mass-market VW nameplate and premium Audi division, lost customers to competitors amid continuing turmoil over its diesel emissions scandal that is now almost two years old.

PSA Group, which will control about 16% of the region’s car sales after completing the acquisition of General Motors’ Opel division this year, expanded its market share to 10.2% from 10% as its Peugeot 2008 SUV attracted buyers.

June’s deliveries underpinned the expectation that Europe’s car market was beginning to flatten, with growth in 2017 projected at 2.9% compared with 5.8% in 2016, said research company LMC Automotive.

Bloomberg

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