Europe's car market grew by a measly 1.2% in 2019

<i>Image: AP/Christophe Ena </i>
<i>Image: AP/Christophe Ena </i>

The European car market grew by 1.2 percent last year, with a push in December raising the total number of sales to 15.3-million vehicles, sector association ACEA said Thursday.

Regulatory changes were behind a jump of 21.7% in December compared with the same month a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said.

Throughout the year Volkswagen cemented its place at the top of EU auto sales, with its figures up 3.1%. The group includes the Audi, Porsche, Seat and Skoda marques.

In second place was French automaker PSA, which owns Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Vauxhall, though it reported a 1.1% drop in sales.

Its French rival the Renault group that includes the Alpine, Dacia and Lada brands, the third larget by European sales, increased by 1.1% for the year as a whole, ACEA data showed.

The European market had started the year in decline, "but the last quarter, and the month of December in particular, pushed the annual performance into positive territory", the ACEA, said in a statement.

Of the main European markets Germany saw the highest sales increase, up a strong 5%, with France rising 1.9% and Italy up 0.3%.

On the other hands sales in Spain were down 4.8% and in Britain they slid 2.4%.

The European market has been "artificially boosted" by the tightening of standards on carbon dioxide emissions, said Flavien Neuvy, director of the Cetelem Observatory, a research unit of BNP Paribas.

The sales figures are based on the registration of vehicles, and Neuvy said carmakers had an incentive to register at the end 2019 large CO2-emitting vehicles so they would not be used in calculations for 2020 on the overall emissions levels its fleet.

Carmakers who breach the lower ceiling in 2020 of an average 95 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometre for their fleet face fines.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Brought to you by
Voting Booth
Who do you feel was at fault for Verstappen and Hamilton's Italian GP crash?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
25% - 1180 votes
42% - 1942 votes
They were both at fault
33% - 1534 votes