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Norwegian passenger car demand retreats in September

10 October 2018 Ian Fletcher

Passenger car registrations in Norway tumbled by 21.2% year on year (y/y) during September, according to the latest data published by the country's Road Traffic Information Council (OFV). Sales fell from 13,484 units to 10,620 units. During the month, Tesla was the leading model as it registered 2,016 units, although this was only a modest 0.6% y/y increase. Following behind was Nissan, which registered 1,158 units, a surge of 223.5% y/y. Toyota stood in third, having registered 1,116 units, a decline of 17.6% y/y, while Volkswagen (VW), typically one of the leading brands in the market, saw its registrations slump by 74.4% y/y to 534 units. As a result of the recent weakness in the passenger car market, year to date (YTD) registrations are now down by 4.2% y/y at 111,500 units. However, registrations of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) of up to 3.5 tonnes were flat in September, dipping by 0.1% y/y to 2,970 units, although its growth in the YTD remained positive, increasing by 3.4% y/y at 27,276 units. Furthermore, demand for medium and heavy commercial vehicles (MHCVs) improved last month by 20.7% y/y to 600 units, which allowed it to improve in the YTD with a growth rate of 12.4% y/y, taking volumes to 5,498 units.

Significance: Norway's passenger car market has declined again during September, in a tumultuous year for passenger car registrations. The weakness this month has been caused by the introduction of WLTP emissions certification from 1 September. Prior to this date, OEMs and dealers have been incentivising vehicles to clear stock and pre-registering NEDC certified models. However, some OEMs have struggled to certify vehicles in time, as underlined by the poor performance of the VW brand. However, the big story in this market centres on the ongoing growth of vehicle electrification. Once again, Tesla has flooded the market with Model Ss and Model Xs at the end of the quarter, although this has not caused as big a shift in registrations for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) as it might once have done. Instead, the 24.7% y/y increase in ZEVs to 4,810 units - of which only eight were fuel cell vehicles - has stemmed mainly from the introduction of the second-generation Leaf which caused the huge surge at Nissan this month. Hybrid demand tumbled again this month though, with the total number falling by 34.4% y/y to 2,779 units, of which plug-in hybrids amounted to 1,585 units, a decline of 40.7% y/y. This could be a result of WLTP, but also signifies a wider weakness for such vehicles. For now, IHS Markit currently forecasts that the Norwegian passenger car market will decline by 1.0% to 157,100 units in 2018. However, sales of LCVs of up to 6 tonnes are expected to reach 39,300 units, an increase of 4.3%, in 2018.

Posted 10 October 2018 by Ian Fletcher, Principal Analyst - AutoIntelligence, Automotive, IHS Markit

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