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October’s West European car market still tells upbeat tale 
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 03rd November 2017 18:07:18 GMT

Geneva traffic

Contrary to expectations, and with just two remaining months to the end of this year, there was no detectable heat loss in October. If anything, October car sales figures out early next week are expected to show a comfortable upturn in sales. October’s better than expected sales turnout, coming in the wake of a 2.8 per cent drop in September, supports the view that West Europe’s new car market still tells an upbeat tale. For the glass half-empty automotive forecasting community, which, at the start of this year predicted largely unchanged car sales for this year, West Europe’s car market has been doing rather well. 

Hot on the heels of a poor September turnout, dragged down by one fewer working day and the onset of much cooler car trading conditions in the UK’s previously sizzling new car market, October, judged from the first faint signs at this early stage, saw the sun breaking through the clouds once again.

Too early to say for sure, but when judged from yesterday’s first set of car sales results, it wasn’t exactly a golden October for the manufacturers and their dealers. 

But signs are nevertheless that October’s turnout was a great deal better than feared. 

The good news is not difficult to spot. 

That’s partly because many of the region’s car markets had one extra working day. 

Germany, West Europe’s biggest car market, despite an unchanged number of working days, saw a 3.9 per cent rise in October car sales. 

That’s hot on the heels of contrasting 3.3 per cent sales dip in September. 

For most of West Europe’s other main markets October car sales were even better. 

That’s a 13.7 per cent jump in France, a matching 13.7 per cent rise in Spain and a 7.1 per cent rise in sales in Italy. 

So with the exception of the still undeclared UK, which appears to be slipping into a cyclical downturn, all remaining main markets in Western Europe saw sales rise by between 3.9 and 13.8 per cent. 

Adding yet another positive spin to October’s preliminary data, the middle ranked Dutch market witnessed a remarkably strong 24.5 per cent car sales jump last month. 

In Sweden, on the other end of the spectrum, October’s car sales have also progressed, but the gain for the month was little more than a trifling 0.9 per cent. 

Somewhere in between, and also one of the region’s middle ranked markets, Switzerland’s October car market echoed the positive vibes sent out by all the markets that already unveiled their October car sales numbers. 

Yet another nugget of good news, Switzerland’s October car market also grew 5.7 per cent. 

Judged from these very early numbers, October’s car sales turnout has comfortably topped most observers’ earlier modest expectations. 

The biggest surprises so far has been the rebounding eurozone economy. 

It has turned into the surprise economic success story of the year. 

Now, all this keeps autoindustry hopes alive that next year Europe’s new car buyers may not, after all, drive back into early hibernation. 

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