PARIS -- Western European car sales surged 27 percent in August as automakers discounted heavily to clear stocks ahead of tougher new testing regime, the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test (WLTP), according to LMC Automotive data.
Registrations rose to 1.02 million cars from 802,000 a year earlier, the consulting firm said on Wednesday. Its numbers are based on national data and estimates for some smaller markets.
The seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of Western European sales also jumped 23 percent in August to a notional 18.38 million cars, from 14.93 million in July.
The new WLTP test became mandatory on Sept. 1, forcing automakers including Volkswagen Group and Renault to halt deliveries of some model versions that have yet to be re-certified under the new procedure.
In a move likely to dent 2018 earnings, automakers boosted August incentives and registrations of their own cars to be sold as nearly new on the used car market, the data suggest.
"This extraordinary set of figures was the result of a combination of factors linked to the introduction of WLTP emissions regulations," said LMC analyst David Oakley.
The new tests proved to be a "strong incentive for self-registration of vehicles and heavy discounting," Oakley said, adding that the surge in August registrations would likely be countered by weaker autumn sales volumes.
August sales rose 25 percent in Germany, 23 percent in the UK, 40 percent in France, 9.5 percent in Italy and 49 percent in Spain, according to data published in recent days.