November 5, 2018 / 4:29 PM / 12 days ago

Western European car sales extend declines on emissions tests

PARIS, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Western European car registrations fell further in October, recording a 7.3 percent decline for the month, as the bungled implementation of tighter emissions test standards continued to weigh on sales, according to LMC Automative data.

Registrations fell to 1.015 million cars last month from 1.094 million a year earlier, the consulting firm said, cutting its full-year sales forecasts for the region this year and next.

The new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WLTP) became mandatory on Sept. 1, forcing carmakers including Volkswagen and Renault to halt deliveries of some models that had yet to be re-certified.

“Although many models which had been temporarily unavailable due to backlogs in WLTP testing were back on sale in October, it appears that it will take more time for the volume of registrations to reflect this,” LMC analyst David Oakley said.

Together with Fiat Chrysler, the same manufacturers had led an August sales surge, as auto brands cleared non-compliant stocks by discounting and registering their own cars, later sold as used.

The seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) of Western European sales rose to 12.6 million vehicles last month, up 11.9 percent from September, LMC said. Its numbers are based on national sales data and estimates for some smaller markets.

The firm cut its sales forecast for the region to 14.41 million cars in 2018 - a 0.8 percent annual gain - from the previously expected 14.5 million, citing a weaker outlook in Italy among contributing factors. Registrations in 2019 are now seen at 14.54 million instead of 14.6 million.

The forecast cut reflects “prospects for economic growth now looking slightly weaker in some key markets”, LMC said.

Despite an extra selling day in many markets, October registrations fell 7.4 percent in Germany and Italy, 6.6 percent in Spain, 2.9 percent in Britain and 1.5 percent in France, according to data published in recent days. (Reporting by Laurence Frost Editing by Geert De Clercq)

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