By Rob Starr, Content Manager, Big4.com
European Union and European Free Trade Association (EU+EFTA) new car registrations declined 15.4 percent to 843 thousand units in December, according to estimates from PwC’s Autofacts. This brought the 2012 year-end results down by 7.8 percent to 12.53 million units, representing the fifth consecutive decline in new car registrations in the EU+EFTA, a 3.5 million unit decline from the 2007 industry peak.
During the past few years, automakers needed to cut costs throughout their organisations to offset the lacklustre sales throughout Europe,” said Giorgio Elefante, PwC automotive partner. “To consolidate costs, many automakers announced plant closures and layoffs in 2012 to take effect in the coming years. We will begin to see these cuts taking effect in 2013. Automotive companies have trimmed any remaining fat and are now cutting into the bone to sustain their business operations. We will continue to see some challenges in 2013. However, we are cautiously optimistic that we are close to the bottom, and will likely begin to see improvement in the second half of 2013.”
The UK market grew 3.7 percent in December, taking the full-year total up 5.3 percent to 2.04 million units, according to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The UK was the only major market to achieve growth in 2012 and this development was driven largely by private consumers. Autofacts does not expect this positive trend to continue in 2013. The UK still faces a challenging environment with weak economic growth, stagnant disposable incomes and rising unemployment. These factors could negatively impact the private buyer who pushed the market up in 2012. As a result, Autofacts forecasts a 1.2 percent decline in new car demand to 2.02 million units in 2013, with a return to growth thereafter as the economy improves and unemployment declines.
In line with much of the rest of Europe, the German car market contracted in 2012. KBA data showed that new car demand fell by 2.9 percent to 3.08 million units for the full-year. The premium segment was affected the most and declined by 13.9 percent, whereas the mini (20.3 percent) and SUV (17.4 percent) segments recorded double-digit growth. Autofacts forecasts a slight decline of 1.38 percent to 3.04 million units in 2013, while improvement in the outlook is expected in 2014 (2.8 percent) and 2015 (4.0 percent) respectively.