The European car market increased by 1.2% in 2019, mainly as a result of a surge in new vehicle registrations at the end of the year, according to data released on Thursday by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).
A new record was set in December, with a 21.7% increase in new registrations compared to the corresponding month of the previous year. However, the base of comparison was relatively low, since the market had shrunk by 8.4% in December 2018.
A total of 15.34 million new private vehicles were registered throughout the European Union in 2019, up from 15.16 million in 2018. This was the sixth consecutive yearly increase.
The year 2019 had begun rather shakily due to the introduction in September 2018 of the WLTP lab test, which measures fuel consumption in passenger cars as well as CO2 and other pollutant emissions, ACEA recalled. However, this was offset by the four consecutive months of growth at the end of the year, particularly in December, which boosted the performances of the European market.
Where the five biggest national markets are concerned, new car registrations went up in Germany (+5%), France (+1.9%) and, to a lesser extent, Italy (+0.3%). On the other hand, the market shrank in Spain (-4.8%) and Britain (-2.4%).
In Belgium, growth was limited to 0.1%, with 550,003 registrations in 2019 as against 549,632 the year before.
Among the manufacturers, the Volkswagen group remained the EU leader with 3.73 million new registrations (+3.1%) in 2019, ahead of PSA (-1.1%), Renault (+1.1%), Hyundai (+2.8%) and BMW (+1.7%).