Volkswagen Emissions Scandal
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VW Scandal Puts Brakes on European Car Market

With passenger car registrations up just 2.9% from October 2014, analysts think Volkswagen's trouble 'may have caused collateral damage. We can’t rule out that the size of the scandal has been such that drivers have canceled or postponed purchases.'

PARIS — European car market growth slowed in October, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), which cited the ongoing Volkswagen emissions scandal and its toll on auto sales.

Passenger car registrations were up by just 2.9% from October 2014 in the EU, a sharp slowdown from the 9.8% rise reported in September.

“October marks a break in the trend,” said Flavien Neuvy, head of Cetelem’s automobile research division. “The Volkswagen affair may have caused collateral damage. We can’t rule out that the size of the scandal has been such that drivers have cancelled or postponed purchases.”

Deliveries of Volkswagen group cars were down by 0.5% in October, but the German manufacturer remains Europe’s leader with a market share of 25.1%. The carmaker said last week that sales of VW brand cars worldwide fell by 5.3% in October, with deliveries halted for some diesel models.

“Demand for new passenger cars saw momentum slowing down in all major markets,” the ACEA noted.

The U.K. market, Europe’s second-largest, actually shrank, by 1.1%, in October. Other markets kept growing, but less so than in recent months: The German market rose by 1.1%, France by 1.0%, Italy by 8.6% and Spain by 5.2%.

A total of 1.1 million new cars were registered across Europe.

Despite the sudden slowdown, October figures have put no more than a dent into the car market’s performance for all of 2015. For the first 10 months of the year, registrations were up by 8.2%, translating into 11.5 million new cars on European roads.

Jean-Francois Belorgey, auto expert at consultants EY, said the release of November figures should give “a much clearer idea” on the lasting impact of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal because VW was still delivering cars ordered before the scandal broke.

“They had a very big book of orders,” he said, “which they are now delivering.”

Volkswagen is struggling to cope with the biggest crisis of its history following its admission in September that it had fitted 11 million vehicles with devices designed to cheat pollution tests.

by Tangi Quemener

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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