EU commercial vehicle registrations up by 5.7% in December

Commercial vehicle registrations increased by 5.7% across the European Union in December 2019, ending three months of decline, according to new figures. Demand was largely driven by the van segment, which accounting for 86% of all CV registrations in the month.

However, while overall registrations increased, performance was mixed in the largest market. While France and the UK posted strong growth in December – up 7.4% and 7.1% respectively – other markets experienced declines, with Spain down by 8.3%, Italy 4% and Germany 1.7%, according to figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Overall in 2019, EU demand for new commercial vehicles expanded by 2.5%, marking the seventh consecutive year of growth. Each of the major markets registered increased demand in 2019: Germany posted strongest growth, up by 6.1%, with France up 4.3%, the UK 3%, Italy 1.9% and Spain 0.3%.

By sector, the picture was mixed. In the light commercial vehicles up to 3.5t sector, registrations were up by 8.2%, reversing the downward trend of the preceding months. Three of the five key EU markets posted growth last month, with France (up 8.7%) and the UK (up 7.8%) performing particularly well, while Germany was up a more modest 1.6%. By contrast, demand contracted in Spain (down 8.2%) and Italy (3.1%).

Meanwhile in Sweden, the van market jumped by 180.3% year-on-year, which was down to an increase in the annual road tax announced for 2020.

Last year, new van registrations totalled 2.1 million units across the EU, a 2.8% increase compared to 2018. The introduction of WLTP for vans in September pulled forward registrations during the summer months, which subsequently slowed down from September to November. However, that effect eased in December, with demand for vans going up again. The five big markets all posted gains last year, with Germany and France – up 6.9% and 4.5% respectively – performing particularly strongly.

In the medium and heavy commercial vehicle over 3.5t market, demand for new trucks decreased by 9.4%, the sixth consecutive month of declining registrations. This was mainly the result of the decline in heavy truck registrations, which made up the bulk of total truck demand. The region’s main markets followed this negative trend, with Germany, Italy and France all seeing double-digit drops of 12.2%, 11.7% and 10.5% respectively. Meanwhile the UK experienced a modest decline of 1.2% year-on-year.

Overall, the EU truck market grew by 0.9% in 2019, despite a slowdown in the second half of the year. The UK was the strongest performing of the major markets, with growth up 9.5%. Germany (up 4.2%), France (1.5%) and Spain (1.1%) all performed better than in 2018 too. Of the key markets, only Italy experienced falling demand – it was down by 7.6%.

In the trucks of 16t and over category, December 2019 was down on the 2018 figures by 13.6%. this was the sixth consecutive month of falling demand, which has been driven by the introduction of new, obligatory tachographs in heavy trucks from June. As a result, the major EU markets performed worse than the year before, with Germany (down 20.4%), the UK (15.4%) and France (11.9%) particularly badly hit among the larger players.

However, overall in 2019, truck registrations remained stable – up by 0.1% – thanks for growth in registrations over the first half of the year. Again, the UK market was particularly strong among the major markets, growing by 9.2%, which compared favourably with Spain (up 2.8%), France (2.1%) and Germany (1.9%). The Italian market was down by 7.7%.

Finally, in the medium and heavy buses and coaches over 3.5t segment, registrations were up by 1.2%, ending five consecutive months of decline. However, there was significant difference in the performance of major markets in December, with France and the UK experiencing exceptional growth – up 69.6% and 41.8% respectively – while sales declined sharply in Spain (down 31.8%) and Germany (15.7%).

Overall in 2019, new bus and coach registrations grew by 1.8% across the EU. However, this was largely driven by smaller markets in central Europe. For instance, registrations in the Netherlands were up by 66.8%, by 44.7% in Romania and 41.6% in Sweden. Of the five major markets, only the French market grew in 2019 – by 8.8%. The UK market fared particularly badly, down by 11.9% year-on-year.

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK’s biggest selling truck magazine. He is now writes for The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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