ACEA’s forecast for the rest of the year is that the pace of EU sales will slow from the 8 percent seen in the first half to 5 percent for the full year. That prediction, however, is still more than double its original EU car-market outlook for 2015, which was a 2 percent gain. ACEA’s forecast excludes the markets that make up the European Free Trade Association (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). Last year the EFTA countries accounted for 455,680 sales. Through six months, sales in the EFTA countries were up 7.1 percent to 244,974.
Analysts at IHS Automotive forecast that European vehicle sales will increase more than 4 percent to almost 13.1 million units this year. One reason that its outlook is more cautious than ACEA’s is its concerns about the effects of Greece’s troubles on the wider market. In addition, IHS has noted that demand from private buyers is likely to flatten or decline for the rest of the year despite a buoyant June, when sales rose 15 percent to 1.41 million units. The analyst said the June rise was partly due to dealers and manufacturers pushing registrations in order to reach or exceed their quarterly targets.
Market watchers at EY expect growth of 3 percent to 5 percent for the full year. One factor that led the firm to predict that growth could be as low as 3 percent was that it believes self-registrations and heavy discounting continue to distort the true level of demand in many European countries. The other factor was Greece, which EY automotive & transportation global analyst Anil Valsan said could cause “a decline in economic confidence.”
Meanwhile, Evercore ISI expects the positive first-half trend to continue for the remainder of the year. “We believe there could be a further upside still if the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) through the second half can remain at the circa 14 million level seen so far this year,” Evercore ISI head of global automotive research Arndt Ellinghorst said in a note to investors. That would represent a full-year sales rise of 7.7 percent, he added. Ellinghorst is optimistic because June gains by Europe’s five largest markets (Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain) combined with growth in ancillary EU states suggest “a solid European recovery is underway.”