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May 2009 West European Car Sales


• Car sales in Western Europe fell by 4.2% in May. Scrapping incentives are providing a powerful boost to demand which led, in seasonally adjusted annualized terms, to a market selling rate of 14.3 mn units/year in the month. In the midst of the most severe recession in generations this is a remarkable result but it marks a situation that will not likely be sustainable beyond 2009. 

• Result for Germany: sales up by 39.7% — the year-to-date market was up by 22.8%. The market selling rate topped 4.5 mn units/year, with smaller vehicles dominating the strong results as incentives distorted the market strongly towards those segments. 

• The French market is also enjoying an unusually robust spell with sales hitting an annualized 2.6 mn units/year. Meanwhile, the Italian market, though remaining lower than its trend of the past several years, appears to have been diverted from severe decline by similar incentives. 

• The UK market has yet to show much improvement resulting from the more modest and complicated incentive scheme introduced last month, though some better results may emerge later in the year. In Spain, where sales continued to languish at an annualized selling rate of just 800,000 units/year in May, the hasty
launch of a new incentive scheme last month will likely have similarly modest uplift later on this year.

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