• European car registrations totalled 1.22 million units in April 2017, a drop of 7.1% when compared to April 2016 and the largest monthly decline seen since March 2013
  • Diesel saw a dramatic 15% decline in registrations in April – performing well below the market average
  • The Volkswagen Golf regained its position as Europe’s most popular car model – after the Ford Fiesta took the spot in March

The European car industry saw a drop in registrations in April 2017, with new registrations for the month totalling 1.22 million units – a decrease of 7.1% when compared to the same month last year, and the largest monthly decline posted since March 2013. This was also a poor month for diesel vehicles, which witnessed a 15% decline in registrations meaning that the fuel-type has lost its dominance in the European market. Diesel accounted for just 46% of the market in April 2017, compared to its 50% market share in April 2016.


Four of Europe’s five largest markets posted decreases in registrations in April, with Spain the only market to experience an increase in registrations – a small 0.8%. The largest decrease in Europe’s biggest five markets was posted by Italy, where registrations decreased by 5.2% – this can be attributed to the introduction of lower incentives that have cooled private demand. This was followed by the UK, where registrations decreased by 19.8%, as the market felt the impact of the new VED rates. Meanwhile, in Germany, registrations decreased by 8%, followed by France, which saw a fall in registrations of 6.2%.

Frankfurt 2015

The decline in registrations particularly affected traditional car segments – compact cars posted a drop in registrations of 11.9%, subcompact registrations decreased by 9% and MPV registrations shrunk by 21.3%. Meanwhile SUVs continued to grow, posting an increase in registrations of 7.2% – but this growth wasn’t enough to offset the double-digit drops seen by other segments.


“Diesel has lost its dominance in the European car market. While there are several reasons for this shift, all evidence points to the ‘dieselgate’ scandal as the start of this decline. Since the scandal, which broke in 2015, the fuel type has suffered major setbacks to its reputation as governments consider new legislation that directly affect diesel car owners – such as plans in the UK for a diesel scrappage scheme. In tandem with this, the media continues to advise consumers to avoid the fuel type wherever possible. When factoring in the ongoing push for electric/hybrid vehicles, which are particularly prevalent in markets like the UK, it is perhaps no surprise to see this decline in performance from diesel,” commented Felipe Munoz, Global Automotive Analyst at JATO Dynamics.


The three big car manufacturers all lost market share. For VW Group, this was due to a fall in its compact car sales, while PSA experienced declines across all its brands – including Opel/Vauxhall. Meanwhile, Renault-Nissan was hit hard by a 20.7% drop in the UK.

The VW Golf regained its position as Europe’s most popular car, after losing its title to the Ford Fiesta in March. The new Peugeot 3008 made the largest gain in terms of market share, becoming the fifth best-selling SUV.