Passengers Cars: European Market Down 17.2% in Quarter 1 2009

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Brussels, 16/04/2009 – Declining for the eleventh consecutive month, passenger car registrations in Europe* fell by 9.0% in March compared to the same month last year. The result was lifted by the on average 3 more working days across the region and the effect of fleet renewal schemes in a number of countries. Over the first quarter of 2009, the market was down by 17.2% with a total of 3,439,720 new registrations compared to 4,154,778 units in the same period last year.

Western Europe recorded 1,429,445 new passenger car registrations in March (-8.0%). The result was boosted by the 39.9% expansion of the German market, where consumers continued to respond widely to the government’s incentive scheme introduced in January. Such a development underpinned the markets in France (+8.0%) and Italy (+0.2%) as well. In the UK, where March is usually a strong month, registrations fell by 30.5%, reflecting the overall persisting lack of confidence in the economy. This sentiment also prevailed in Spain (-38.7%). Three months into the year, new registrations were down 16.3% in Europe*. The German market was the only one to post growth (+18.0%). The downturn hit the Spanish (-43.1%) and the British (-29.7%) markets hardest. The Italian and French markets were down 19.1% and -3.9%. Among the smaller markets, Luxemburg (-10.4%), Switzerland (-12.3%), Austria (-12.9%) and Belgium (-15.3%) performed best while Ireland and Iceland posted a decline of 64.9% and 91.3% respectively.

In the new EU Member States, 76,803 new cars were registered in March, or 25.4% less than last year. Poland and the Czech Republic, two of the major markets in the region, posted a growth of 2.5% and 0.9% respectively. Slovakia also recorded a strong increase of 18.2% following the introduction of a car scrapping scheme. Looking at the cumulative figures from January to March, Poland consolidated its position as the largest market with a total of 87,939 new registrations and a 1.3% upturn. Latvia performed worst with a contraction by 77.9%.

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