Better Nov. car sales herald European growth in 2014, forecaster says

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A modest 0.7 percent improvement in European car sales in November has led market analyst LMC Automotive to predict that sales in western Europe will improve by 2.6 percent next year.

This would be the first increase in six years and would follow a forecast 2.3 percent drop this year.

"After a couple of stronger months, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of sales eased a little in November, though at 11.7 million units per year it continues to reflect an improvement from earlier in the year," the forecaster said in a statement.

However, more detailed analysis by LMC of the November data reveals contrasting results in key markets. The UK, for example, put in another solid performance, gaining 7 percent year‐on‐year, led by a year‐to‐date 15.4 percent surge in private registrations.

Elsewhere the November results "proved a little less inspiring" LMC said.

German car registrations fell by 2 percent last month and the selling rate once again dipped below 3 million units per year compared to a 2012 outturn of 3.1 million units.

After the improvements of September and October, both the French and Italian markets weakened. French sales in November fell 4.4 percent and the outlook is for a full year drop of 6.4 percent to 1.7 million units. In Italy November sales fell 4.5 percent, bringing the annual selling rate to 1.3 million units, down 7.0 percent on 2012.

Continuing to benefit from an ongoing scrappage scheme, Spain's sales in November rose 15 percent year-on-year but that still left its annualized selling rate at 746,000 units, just 3.4 percent better than the actual 2012 outturn.

The analysts still expect modest growth in Europe's largest national market, Germany in 2014. However, LMC concluded that "With the overall West European car market down over 20 percent on pre‐financial crisis levels and with economic growth in Europe not expected to pick up quickly in the near future, the car market recovery looks set to be patchy."

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