Passenger car: European market posts fifteen-year low in 2008: -7.8%

Brussels, 15/01/2009 – European* new passenger car registrations fell by 7.8% to 14,712,158 units in 2008, recording the sharpest decline since 1993

Brussels, 15/01/2009 – European* new passenger car registrations fell by 7.8% to 14,712,158 units in 2008, recording the sharpest decline since 1993.

New car demand dropped by 8.4% in Western-Europe, with the downturn most prominent in the last quarter (-19.3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2007). New car registrations in the new EU Member States slipped by 0.7% in 2008, similarly affected by a worsening performance towards the end of the year. In December, European registrations declined by 17.8%, or the second worst performance in 2008 following the 25.8% decrease in November. The December downturn was cushioned somewhat by the on average two more working days across the region**, whereas November had two working days less.

In Western Europe, demand contracted by 8.4% in 2008. Only four countries posted growth: Finland (+11.2%), Portugal (+5.7%), Belgium (+2.1%) and Switzerland (+1.0%). While fiscal measures helped sustain growth in Finland and Portugal, the Belgian and Swiss sales levels seem to have better resisted the financial and economic crises prevailing throughout Europe. Iceland (-43.3%) and Ireland (-18.7%) were among the countries recording the most remarkable downturn last year. Looking at the major markets, Spain recorded in 2008 the steepest fall (-28.1%) in the history of its market. Italy also posted a two-digit decrease (-13.4%), with no month recording a plus. The market in the UK also contracted by more than 10% (-11.3%) while registrations decreased to a lesser extent in Germany (-1.8%) and France (-0.7). The general decline in December contributed markedly to the overall 2008 result. Themarket dropped by 61.9% in Ireland, 49.9% in Spain, 21.2% in the UK, 15.8% in France, 13.3% in Italy and 6.6% in Germany. The overall downturn in Western Europe was 18.5% in December. In the new EUMember States2008 numbers leveled the results of 2007 (-0.7%). In absolute numbers, Poland remained the major market, consolidating its position with a 9.4% increase. The Czech Republic (+8.4%) also recorded a plus, but Romania (-8.7%) and Hungary (-9.2%) contracted.

December new registrations in the region mirrored the overall decline in demand following the economic crisis. The 10.7% decrease is the sharpest drop recorded since ACEA started reporting figures for the new EU Member States in 2004.

 * EU27 + EFTA, data for Cyprus and Malta unavailable

** One more working day for Italy, the Netherlands and Poland; three more for Finland and Latvia, same number of working days as last year for Portugal.


About ACEA

  • The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) represents the 15 major Europe-based car, van, truck and bus makers: BMW Group, DAF Trucks, Daimler Truck, Ferrari, Ford of Europe, Honda Motor Europe, Hyundai Motor Europe, Iveco Group, JLR, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Renault Group, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen Group, and Volvo Group
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  • Contact: Francesca Piazza, Senior Statistics Manager,

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About the EU automobile industry

  • 12.9 million Europeans work in the automotive sector
  • 8.3% of all manufacturing jobs in the EU
  • €392.2 billion in tax revenue for European governments
  • €101.9 billion trade surplus for the European Union
  • Over 7% of EU GDP generated by the auto industry
  • €59.1 billion in R&D spending annually, 31% of EU total
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