European car market accelerates into 2017 with good start


After a very good year in 2016, the European car market got off to a positive start in 2017, with new car sales jumping by more than 10 percent, industry data showed on Thursday.

Apparently shrugging off the “dieselgate” scandal that first saw German giant Volkswagen and then other carmakers accused of cheating on their diesel emissions, overall new car registrations rose by 10.2 percent to 1.17 million in the European Union in January, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said in a statement.

“In January 2017, the EU passenger car market started the year positively, partially due to extra working days during the month,” the statement said.

“Among the major markets — Spain, France, Germany and Italy — recorded very strong performance in January, all posting double-digit percentage gains,” ACEA said.

The Spanish market grew by 10.7 percent, the French market by 10.6 percent, the German market by 10.5 percent and the Italian market by 10.1 percent.

The British passenger car market “also grew during the first month of 2017, although at more modest rate” of 2.9 percent, the association added.

German carmaker Volkswagen — the biggest maker with a market share of 24.1 percent — saw combined sales of all of its 12 brands rise by 10.3 percent.

The German giant is still counting the cost of the massive scandal that was triggered 18 months ago when it admitted to installing emissions-cheating software into 11 million diesel engines worldwide.

French groups PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault — with market shares of 10.3 percent and 9.1 percent respectively — saw their sales rise by 6.8 percent and 10.4 percent.

Paris prosecutors said last month they were probing Renault over possible cheating, accusations the French group strongly denies.

The European car market had already shrugged off the dieselgate scandal to notch up strong growth in 2016, with passenger car registrations climbing by 6.8 percent to 14.64 million units.

That is close to the level seen in 2008 when the global economic crisis erupted and a long way above the low of 11.8 million vehicles recorded in 2013.