EU new car registrations: -5,2% in March, +4,4% in Q1

According to data from the European Manufacturers Association (ACEA), the European Union car market experienced its first decline of the year, registering a 5.2% decrease to 1 million units. Apparently, the timing of the Easter holidays negatively impacted last month’s sales across most EU markets, including the four largest: Germany (-6.2%), Spain (-4.7%), Italy (-3.7%), and France (-1.5%).

For the first quarter of the year, car registrations increased by 4.4%, reaching nearly 2.8 million units. The bloc’s major markets saw solid growth from January to March, with Italy and France each recording a 5.7% increase, followed by Germany (+4.2%) and Spain (+3.1%).

By power source

Last March also saw a shift in the car market’s composition: battery-electric cars slipped to a 13% share from last year’s 13.9%, while hybrid electrics charged up to 29% from 24.4%. Petrol and diesel combined capture less than half the market now (47.8%, down from 51.8%).

Electric: stagnating

In March 2024, battery-electric car registrations declined by 11.3% to 134,397 units, reflecting the broader market downturn. Consequently, their market share shrank from 13.9% in March 2023 to 13% in the same month of this year.

Among the three largest BEV markets, Belgium (+23.8%) and France (+10.9%) enjoyed double-digit increases, while Germany faced a significant decrease of 28.9%. The first quarter of 2024 ended with a total of 332,999 new battery-electric cars registered, a 3.8% rise from the same quarter in the previous year.

Hybrid electric: still growing

Hybrid electric cars (HEVs) stood out, achieving a 12.6% rise in registrations in March despite the general market decline. France and Italy, two of the three largest HEV markets, registered significant increases of 29.6% and 8.3%, respectively.

Meanwhile, Germany saw a marginal decrease of 0.3%. This segment reached sales of 299,426 units, capturing 29% of the market, up from 24.4% in March 2023.

Plug-in hybrid: slight decrease

On the other hand, plug-in hybrid registrations fell by 6.5% last month, with Germany and Belgium experiencing declines of 4.5% and 15.3%, respectively. France countered the trend with a modest increase of 3.6%. In March, plug-in hybrids made up 73,029 units sold, equating to 7.1% of the overall car market.

Petrol: decreasing

In March 2024, out of all powertrain segments, petrol and diesel were the most significantly impacted by the overall market downturn. Petrol sales decreased by 10.2%, with notable reductions across most EU markets, including France (-17.7%), Spain (-10.1%), and Germany (-3.4%). In contrast, Italy posted growth, with an increase of 5.7%. As a result, market share declined from 37.4% to 35.4% compared to March of the previous year.

Diesel: severely decreasing

The downturn in the diesel market was even more severe, with an 18.5% drop in March. Substantial declines were seen in the largest markets: France (-32.1%), Spain (-38%), and Italy (-27.6%), while Germany experienced only a slight reduction of 0.5%. Diesel car sales totaled 128,227 units, accounting for a market share of 12.4%, a two percent decrease from last year’s 14.4%.

Outside the European Union, we see a sharper decrease in the EFTA countries, especially the Scandinavian ones (Iceland and Norway), less in Switzerland. The UK, on the contrary, saw a sales increase of more than 10%, with a serious boost for all hybrids (PHEVs and HEVs) and a regress for petrol and diesel.

By make

Of course, Volkswagen Group stays number one, with a market share of one-fourth (24.9%) for Q1, a slight decrease. Stellantis Group stays number two, but its market share (18.9%) is also decreasing, despite the fact that both groups increased total sales slightly.

Third is the Renault Group, with a 10.5% market share in March and 10.3% in Q1. Toyota Group is increasing its stake, as well in March as for the whole first quarter, obtaining a market share of 8.1% (up from 7.2%). It jumps to fourth place, and so Hyundai Group comes fifth, losing a little bit of market share (7.8%, down from 8.3%).

BMW Group stays 6th, with a market share oscillating around 6.5%, while Mercedes-Benz (7th) seems to be recovering in March, obtaining a market share of 5.8%, where it is only 5% for the whole first quarter. Number 8 remains Ford (3% market share in Q1, down from 3.8%), but has Volvo Cars (+38.8% in sales in March, +39.4% in Q1) breading in its neck (2.7% market share in Q1, up from 2.0%).

March wasn’t a good month for Tesla (-30.4% in sales), and its market share is stagnating at around 2.5% in Q1. Mitsubishi seems to be waking up again in Europe: in March, sales rose by 216%, and this was 160.3% for the whole first quarter. The introduction of the Renault Clio and Captur as new Mitsubishi offerings is apparently a success.



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