Used car sales outperforming new car sales across Europe’s big five car markets
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Car buyers are switching to buying newer used cars instead of new according to the INDICATA database.
To June 2019 new car sales had fallen in nine of the previous 10 months, with just a miserly 0.1% positive movement in May 2019 being the only glimmer of hope across the 28 European member states and the European Free Trade Agreement countries of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
However, used car sales across all five major European car markets grew by 8.2% for the period January to July 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. France has seen the biggest rate if increase, up 14.6%, followed the UK (+9.2%), Spain (+7.0%), Germany (+5.8%) and Italy (+3.6%).
Used car sales outstripping new
Over the first seven months of 2018 online B2C used car sales were achieving parity with sales of new cars across Europe’s five largest car markets, with 7.14 million new cars registered compared to 7.15 million used car sales. One year later and used car sales are now 10% higher than new car sales with 7.74 million online B2C used cars sold in the first seven months of 2019 versus 7.01 million new cars over the same period.
The widening gap between new car sales and used car sales started in September 2018 when the introduction of the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) saw new car sales collapse. Used car sales also started to rise from January 2019, increasing in volume terms by an average 8.4% per month between January and July. Despite new car sales rising by 0.9% across the five biggest car markets in Europe in July, used car sales leapt by 20.9% according to the latest INDICATA data.
Spanish market on road to recovery
Focusing on specific markets, a weak quarter one (Q1) of online B2C used car sales in Spain was compensated for by a strong second quarter (Q2) which saw sales rise 32.1% over Q1 2019 and up 19.3% over Q2 2018. The recovery was not quite enough to put the Spanish used car market back into growth though and for the first half of 2019 it was still down 2.6%, but an even stronger July meant total online B2C used car sales in Spain were up seven per cent.
July also saw strong used car sales growth in the remaining four markets with sales for the big five countries up 20.9% in total over July 2018. Germany saw online B2C used car sales rise by 26.2% in July 2019 compared to the same month last year, whilst France (+23.3%), the UK (+11.6%) and Italy (+10.8%) also saw strong increases for the month.
However, it should be remembered that July and August 2018 saw significant new car discounts being offered to clear out new cars which had not or could not be homologated in time for the introduction of WLTP in September, so the rate of growth should stabilise once we are past this period.