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European car market stabilises during 2018, as alternative fuelled vehicles record best ever year, but diesel sees lowest market share since 2001

15.6 million vehicles were registered in the market’s highest result since 2007

The European car market remained stable during 2018, as 15.6 million vehicles were registered – just 346 more than in 2017. It was the best result since 2007, when the market peaked with 16.02 million registrations. Strong results in Q2, where the market was up by 4.8%, and Q3, where the market was up by 1.1%, were enough to offset the large decline posted in Q4, where the market dropped by 7.5% and recorded its lowest volume since 2014.

Commenting on the year’s results, Felipe Munoz, JATO’s global analyst, said: “The effects of WLTP and the lack of availability of many key versions affected registrations in Q4, which is not surprising given that by late November less than two in three versions available in Europe were homologated.”

Diesel vehicles posted their lowest market share since 2001, as demand fell by double digits in 20 of the 27 markets included in JATO’s analysis, with the biggest drops in the UK (-30%), Scandinavia (-22%) and Benelux (-22%). “Throughout 2018 we continued to see the effects of the diesel crisis, as announcements of policy changes by governments led to confusion and panic among consumers,” continued Munoz.

Globally, Europe was the world’s third largest car market behind China and the US, as strong results in Spain, Poland and the Netherlands were offset by falls in the UK, Italy and Sweden. Poland, Slovakia, Luxembourg and Lithuania all posted record levels of volume, while it was the best year since 2007 for Spain and Estonia, and the best year since 2008 for Romania, Hungary, Croatia and Latvia. In contrast, it was the worst year for registrations in Switzerland since 2010, the UK since 2013, and Norway since 2014.

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