Passenger car: 2007 registrations mount in new member states, flat in Western Europe

Brussels, 16/01/2008 - Nearly 16 million new cars were registered in Europe (EU27+EFTA) in 2007, or 1.1% more than the year before

Brussels, 16/01/2008 - Nearly 16 million new cars were registered in Europe (EU27+EFTA) in 2007, or 1.1% more than the year before. Soaring oil prices, changes in taxes, shrinking credit availability and purchasing power restrained buyers’ confidence and the demand for new cars in some of the Western European countries (+0.2%). In the new EU member states, where car density is still much lower and many households have been able to afford buying a new car only recently, a steady growth was recorded throughout the year (+14.5%). Western European 2007 figures were to a great extent pulled down by expected slowdown on the German market (-9.2%). Due to late 2006 rush in purchases ahead of January 2007 VAT increase, 320,000 new cars less were registered in 2007. Also in Spain, where scrapping incentives (Prever Plan) were extended until the end of 2007, demand for new cars further declined (-1.2%). Government incentives and promotional campaigns had a positive effect on the Italian market, where more than 160,000 new cars were sold as compared with 2006 (+7.1%). New registrations in the UK (+2.5%) were mostly driven by private demand, especially for diesel and small cars. The French market also performed better than in 2006 (+3.2%). Seven new member states posted two-digit yearly growths and only Hungary remained on a downturn trend (-7.8%) in 2007. In December 2007, four out of five main EU markets posted growths.

The calendar effect was limited since the number of working days varied widely in Europe**. On the one hand, Germany recorded a significant loss (-20.3%) as compared with December 2006, when registrations increased by 18% before the sales tax increase took effect in the following month. On the other hand, a new bonus-malus system (car registration tax linked to CO2 emissions) coming into force in January 2008 boosted French registrations at the end of 2007 (+21.1%). Also Italy (+14.1%), Spain (+6.3%) and the UK (+3.1%) ended the year on an upturn path.

The majority of the new EU member States positively contributed to the overall result (+11.6%). ** Italy, Spain, Romania +1, Germany –2, Bulgaria, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Slovakia, Sweden –1 or more

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