Consumers buying cars in Western Europe -- but a warning from the East

Demand for new cars in Western Europe has stayed strong in the first month of 2010, according to the latest car production figures -- but Eastern Europe has been left reeling from dramatic falls throughout 2009.

(Relaxnews) -

Demand for new cars in Western Europe has stayed strong in the first month of 2010, according to the latest car production figures - but Eastern Europe has been left reeling from dramatic falls throughout 2009.

The latest sales figures from Western markets suggest a healthy year-on-year boost for sales in France, Italy, Spain and the UK. Italian car sales jumped by almost a third - 30.2 percent - whilst Spain reported a rise of 18.1 percent and France 14 percent. In the UK, where a temporary VAT reduction has just ended, new car registrations rose 29.8 percent.

However, these figures are boosted by the continuation of several scrappage schemes in Western Europe, thought by many to be keeping consumer demand for new vehicles artificially high. In Germany, which has now ended its scrappage scheme, the number of new car registrations fell to the lowest since German reunification in 1989 - a fall of 4.2 percent from the already depressed January 2009.

Analysis of annual sales in the Eastern European market by JATO Dynamics suggests that the damage is worse outside of Western Europe. Consumers in the Central and Eastern European area have not enjoyed the scrappage programs introduced by larger economies and have also experienced recent tax rises. As a result, less than one million cars were sold in central and Eastern Europe in 2009, a 28.1% decline compared with 2008. Latvia down 72.9 percent, Lithuania down 66.2 percent and Hungary down 60 percent were amongst the worst affected. Only Poland managed to stay out of negative figures, ending the year with flat sales.

Skoda was by far the region's top selling car brand, followed by Volkswagen and Ford. It's Octavia and Fabia cars were the best selling models, beating the Dacia Logan into third place.

Eastern Europe's Top Selling Cars

1. Skoda Octavia
2. Skoda Fabia
3. Dacia Logan
4. Kia Ceed
5. Volkswagen Golf
6. Ford Focus
7. Renault Megane
8. Fiat Punto Classic
9. Renault Clio
10. Hyundai i30

Data from JATO Dynamics

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