The European region saw conflicting figures last year, with political tensions and economic woes crippling the nascent auto industry recovery. Among the bright stars – the United Kingdom.
Britain cemented its position as the European Union’s second-largest car market behind only Germany, as customers purchased almost 2.5 million new cars in 2014. The figure was the best in a decade and represented a 10% growth over the same period of 2013 – thanks mostly because of rising economic optimism and the continued availability of cheap finance deals. According to the British Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the country’s new car registrations totaled last year 2.476 million units, surging 9.3% – the best figure since 2004 and above the historic average growth rate. Now, both the SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes and industry analysts predict that sales could level off into 2015. That’s because pent-up demand starts to wear off and customers face the upcoming prospects of higher duties following May’s national elections.
David Raistrick, an auto industry specialist at accountants Deloitte says “flat sales this coming year, or even a slight reduction, should still be seen as a positive position” as Britain’s growth last year exceeded three times that recorded in Germany – the biggest European auto market. Now SMMT previews that overall the European Union could begin its long journey into recovery mode, with a 6% forecasted climb for new car registrations overall in 2015. UK deliveries have been buoyed especially by the so-called personal contract plans that have customers trade in every three years and pent-up demand from the first years after the latest economic crisis.