The global automotive business demonstrated two separate trends in February, according to Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA).
Growth was seen on the passenger car markets in Western Europe (+6 percent) and Japan (+19 percent), while, in China, demand for passenger cars recorded a double-digit increase (+22 percent).
The light-vehicle market in Brazil also showed positive development (+11 percent). By contrast, the U.S. market was flat compared to February last year, partly due to the severe winter, according to the VDA analysis. Weaker results were seen on the markets in Russia (-2 percent) and India (-4 percent).
New registrations of passenger cars on the Western European market increased for the sixth time in succession. In February demand for passenger cars rose by a good 6 per cent to 823,700 new cars.
Of the top five markets, only France recorded slight contraction (-1 percent). In Germany, the number of new registrations climbed by just over 4 per cent. The Italian market showed a year-on-year rise of almost 9 percent – this was the greatest growth for about four years. After a two-year slump, Italy has now been expanding again for the last three months, according to VDA.
In Spain passenger car demand showed a double-figure increase (+18 percent), one reason for this being the Spanish scrapping bonus. New registrations of passenger cars in the UK rose by 3 percent.
Some of the smaller markets also demonstrated considerable growth. For example, the Portuguese market saw double-digit expansion (+40 percent) in February for the ninth time in succession. Strong increases were also seen on the markets in Austria (+30 percent), Iceland (+30 percent), Ireland (+21 percent), Denmark (+21 percent) and Sweden (+21 percent).
Total new registrations of passenger cars in Western Europe up to the end of February came to 1.7 million new cars, which is a year-on-year increase of more than 5 percent, according to the VDA.
February also brought clear revitalization in the new EU Member States. Sales of new cars climbed to 71,000. The Polish market increased by more than one third (+35 percent), while Lithuania recorded a rise of 40 percent and Bulgaria a rise of 33 percent, according to the VDA market analysis.
In the U.S., February sales of light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) came to almost 1.2 million units, thus hovering around the previous year’s level. Whereas the light truck segment increased by 6 per cent to 623,900 units, passenger cars were down by the same amount, falling to 564,700 new cars. The market volume for light vehicles up to the end of February totaled 2.2 million units or more than 1 percent less than last year, according to the VDA.
New passenger car registrations in Japan grew by nearly 19 percent in February to 490,500 units. Pre-buy effects, because value-added tax is going up in Japan this April, resulted in the sixth month of double-digit growth in a row. Over the year so far new car registrations have risen by 24 percent to 924,100 units, according to the VDA.
The VDA reported that the Chinese passenger car market totaled sales of 1.2 million units in February, which was 22 percent up on the same month last year. Sales of cars in China up to the end of February showed a year-on-year increase of more than 15 percent, just exceeding 2.9 million new cars.
With a volume of 217,700 units last month, the Indian passenger car market remained nearly 4 percent below the result for February 2013. So far this year the market has been unable to equal last year’s figures: sales of new cars over the first two months dropped by around 7 percent to 437,600 units, according to the VDA.
The Russian market for light vehicles also contracted slightly. February’s new registrations amounted to 206,500 vehicles (-2 percent). Up to the end of last month sales totaled 359,100 units, which was a year-on-year fall of nearly 4 percent, the VDA reported.
The Brazilian light-vehicle market expanded in February. New registrations climbed by almost 11 percent to 246,100 vehicles. In the first two months of 2014, the new car market grew by a little over 5 percent and all in all 546,200 new vehicles were registered, according to the VDA.