European Car Sales Climb in October, Masking Dismal Outlook

(Bloomberg) --

European car sales jumped in October, although not enough to reverse a decline since the start of the year as demand wanes in key markets.

Registrations rose 8.6% to 1.21 million vehicles, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said on Tuesday. The increase was due to a low comparison with a year earlier when sales suffered from new emissions tests.

The latest monthly figure means registrations are down 0.7% to 13.3 million vehicles since the start of the year, according to the group, putting 2019 on a path for a full-year decline.

European Car Sales Climb in October, Masking Dismal Outlook

Carmakers from Volkswagen AG to Daimler AG as well as parts suppliers like Continental AG have lowered their expectations in recent weeks on weakening demand in some regions and the threat of trade war tariffs. A shrinking of the Chinese market has also deepened the gloom, with October car sales marking the 16th decline in the past 17 months.

The U.K. was the only major European market to have registered a sales contraction in October as uncertainty stemming from Brexit continues to roil the market.

Modest growth in October in Europe might continue in the final two months of the year, but the market is still unlikely to fare better than 2018, according to LMC Automotive. The forecaster said no progress is expected next year due to economic headwinds.

The downward trend has put pressure on the region’s automakers to join forces to navigate an unprecedented industry shift toward electric and self-driving cars. French automaker PSA Group confirmed last month it’s in merger talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.

The maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, that also controls the Opel and Vauxhall brands, said in a statement that its sales fell due to the changeover of the popular Peugeot 208 and 2008 models, but its order book has increased. PSA stock gained as much as 1.1% in Paris.

Volkswagen shares rose as much as 1.1% as the world’s largest automaker -- which has a market share of more than 20% in Europe -- saw registrations surge 31% in October. The German manufacturer had faced bigger problems last year than many rivals to adopt the more complex emission tests.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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