Brexit jitters hit

Euro car sales

Nissan Qashqai production, 2017, Sunderland

UNCERTAINTY over the Brexit negotiations and scares about diesel engines are having an impact on car sales across Europe, according to industry analysts.

The European car market slumped 2.2 per cent in September with new registrations totalling 1,461,638 units.

Eleven of the 27 markets analysed by Jato Dynamics posted falls including Germany - the key barometer of the European auto industry - where the diesel crisis hit overall results.

The German market fell by 3.3 per cent compared to September last year with 288,035 new car registrations.

According to Jato, the recent contraction in the UK car market - where sales were down almost 10 per cent in September - is now being felt across the Continent.

Felipe Munoz, global automotive analyst at JATO Dynamics, said: "Whilst a drop after such high levels of growth is not unusual, it is clear that the recent performance of the UK car market - one of Europe's most significant - is having a substantial impact on the European car market as a whole.

"Until there is more certainty around Brexit negotiations, and the UK's future in Europe as whole, this is set to continue."

Despite the negative trend, Britain led the way in September - the month of the latest UK registration plates - with new car sales of 426,170, accounting for more than a third of total sales in the Euro zone.

The British-built Nissan Qashqai also fared well with 28,987 sales, making it the second most popular model in Europe behind the Volkswagen Golf which notched up 51,500 units.

The Qashqai was also the top seller in Britain, Finland and Spain.

Sales of SUVs continued to soar, accounting for 31.6 per cent of the market, up from 27.1 per cent this time last year - the only sector to show significant growth.

Overall, the Spanish and Italian markets bucked the trend posting rises of 4.7 and 7.1 per cent respectively while sales in France also rose 1.3 per cent to 170,241 in September.

So far this year the European market has remained buoyant and grown by 3.4 per cent to 11,979,598 units despite the recent jitters.

"This decline for September points to a slowdown in European registrations, following a long period of strong results," said the Jato report. "Whilst this isn't an unusual trend, the recent performance of the UK car market - one of the big five markets in Europe - is having a significant impact on the rest of the region's growth. This can be attributed to the increasing uncertainty around Brexit negotiations and the UK's future in the European Union."

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