| 10:26 AM EST

Car Sales Take a Dive in Europe

A volatile market stays that way
#europe #Audi #Daimler

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Car sales this year are off to a bad start across Europe.

New-car registrations skidded 7% to 1.24 million units in January, reports ACEA, the region’s big automotive trade group.

ACEA’s totals no longer include the U.K. (where sales also fell 7% last month), now that Britain has finally exited the European Union.

Tricky Stats

Traffic jam in Germany  (Getty Images)

Much of last month’s decline was payback from an end-of-year surge in 2019 as consumers rushed to beat impending tax hikes in several countries. Example: The scramble produced an aberrant 21% sales jump in December.

Lately, it’s been tricky business trying to make sense of Europe’s car market. Year-on-year comparisons bounced up and down for months last year, warped by new emission rules that skewed production and sales.

But beneath the gyrations, analysts believe Europe is slipping into the same sales cooldown that has been affecting the U.S. and China.

Glum News

January sales in Europe were not pretty in the EU’s top four markets. The numbers were down for the region’s second-tier markets too.

Results were similar among Europe’s largest vehicle producers, with one exception. Volkswagen Group was able to hold sales steady, as increased demand for its Audi and SEAT models offset a 7% drop for the VW brand.

Almost nobody else had a good January. Sales fell for PSA (-13%), Renault (-16%), FCA (-7%), and Ford (-23%). Sales rose for BMW (+5%), but they fell for Daimler (-10%).

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