BERLIN — European Union auto makers posted their highest new car sales for the month of December on record, ending the third year of consecutive sales growth above forecasts for the year, according to monthly data published Tuesday.
New car registrations, a mirror of sales, rose 6.8% to 14.6 million vehicles in 2016, twice the pace of initial forecasts for the year. Demand remained robust across Europe’s big five auto markets — Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said.
“This positive trend is a sign that despite political instability and economic uncertainty following key events in 2016, such as Brexit or the Italian referendum, consumer confidence has remained robust,” ACEA said in a statement.
Among the big five car markets in the EU, Italy and Spain grew the fastest, still recovering from the sharp decline in new car sales during the euro crisis.
The growth in new car sales in the EU eased in December, rising 3% from the previous year to 1.14 million vehicles.
“This result marked the highest December total on record,” ACEA said in a statement.
The strong close to the year is a sign that new car sales in the world’s major car markets will continue to grow in 2017, but growth is expected to slow, analysts said.
“We expect 2017 to be a decent year for global (manufacturers), said Arndt Ellinghorst, auto analyst at Evercore ISI, a brokerage. “We expect relatively flat developments in the U.S., Europe and China coupled with some recovery, from very painful levels, in emerging markets.”
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