Car buyers across Europe took advantage of May’s bumper bank holidays resulting in it being the strongest month for new vehicle sales this year. Italy, for example, enjoyed its first rise in automotive sales for the first time in 14 months.
In its monthly roundup of data, PwC’s Autofacts’ automotive research think-tank said May’s sales results were inordinately strong and could be due to a combination of extra selling days in France and Germany. Whilst the car market has begun to turn in Italy and some parts of the UK, there is little sign this is happening in Spain yet, according to the data.
Autofacts’ monthly review shows that in the UK, car sales overall were down slightly in May by 1.7% and 150,431 units, in comparison to May 2010. Growth did occur in fleet and business sales which seem to have slowed down the overall market decline with an increase of 10.3% up on last year. In fact, fleet/business sales now stand at 56.9% of the entire UK new car sales market against 50.6% in 2010.
In Europe, Spain saw a drop of 23.3% in May sales against May 2010 reaching 78,780 units. The Autofacts’ review highlights the drop could be down to trends in the personal vehicle market.
Germany, by contrast, grew by 22%, which is the largest year on year growth since the 2009 boom year. The upwards swing is believed to be due to strong performance of luxury cars, SUVs (sport utility vehicles) and vans dominating the market.
Calum Macrae, PwC Autofacts lead analyst, said: “We estimate that May was the strongest growth month in the market in the year so far. However, we believe that the 7.1% was largely superficial based as it was on three more selling days in many markets than was the case in 2010. In France for example, actual sales in May increased by 6.3% but on a like-for-like basis with May 2010 sales would have actually declined by 8.3%.
“That said, there is evidence that the European market be over the worst of its post scrappage blues as, for example, the Italian market posted its firstly monthly increase for 14 months. Our overall European sales forecast for the year which remains at 13.7 million is predicated on many markets performing better in the second half of the year, as private sales improve due to weaker scrappage distortion and lower bases for year on year comparison.”