The European Union car market experienced its first decline of the year in March 2024, with new car sales falling by 5.2% to one million units.  

According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the timing of the Easter holidays was a contributing factor to the downturn, which was felt across most EU markets, including the four largest economies: Germany (‑6.2%), Spain (-4.7%), Italy (-3.7%), and France (-1.5%). 

The first quarter saw a 4.4% increase in car registrations, with nearly 2.8 million units being registered.  

The major EU markets reported growth, with Italy and France each up by 5.7%, Germany by 4.2%, and Spain by 3.1%. 

Last month, the composition of the car market shifted, with battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) seeing their market share dip to 13% from 13.9% the previous year.  

The share of hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs), on the other hand, rose to 29% from 24.4%.  

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Petrol and diesel vehicles combined accounted for less than half the market at 47.8%, down from 51.8%. 

Battery-electric car registrations declined by 11.3% to 134,397 units.  

Germany saw a 28.9% decline in BEV registrations, whereas Belgium and France saw rises of 23.8% and 10.9%, respectively. 

The first quarter ended with 332,999 new BEVs registered, a 3.8% rise from March 2023. 

Hybrid-electric cars outperformed other segments, with a 12.6% rise in registrations in March.  

France and Italy registered increases, 29.6% and 8.3%, respectively, while Germany saw a slight decrease. HEVs sold 299,426 units, capturing 29% of the market. 

Plug-in hybrid registrations fell by 6.5% last month, with declines in Germany (-4.5%) and Belgium (-15.3%). France, however, saw an increase of 3.6%. 

Plug-in hybrids comprised 7.1% of the overall car market with 73,029 units sold. 

Petrol and diesel vehicles were the most affected by the market downturn.  

Petrol sales decreased by 10.2%, with reductions in France, Spain, and Germany, 17.7%, 10.1%, and 3.4%, respectively. In contrast, Italy posted an increase of 5.7%. 

Petrol vehicle’s market share declined from 37.4% to 35.4% last month. 

Diesel sales dropped by 18.5%, with the largest markets all seeing declines, except for a marginal reduction in Germany. 

Sales of diesel vehicles totalled 128,227 units, representing a 12.4% market share, equating to a drop from 14.4% the previous year.