Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/05/2012 -- There has been a sharp rise in the number of new cars sold in Hungary over Q112, with new passenger car sales up by 22% over the first three months of the year, to 13,964 units, This has come as a slight surprise to BMI, which had forecast that, with Hungary likely to edge back into recession in 2012, a fall in new car sales over the current year was the most likely outcome. There was also a 19.6% increase in the number of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) registered in Hungary over Q112, at 2,800.
What seems to have bolstered demand for new cars in recent months was a January 2012 cut in new vehicle registration fees. This fact had seen Hungarians put off new car purchases ahead of the new lower vehicle tax system, with December 2011 passenger car sales reportedly down by 14.6% year-on-year (yo- y), to 3,261 units. Since that time, local consumers have clearly taken advantage of the lower registration fees to replace existing cars, even during this time of relative economic hardship for Europe.
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However, although sales of passenger cars and LCVs have performed well, buses saw a 76.2% decrease over Q112, to just 10 buses sold, while HGVs also saw a 23.3% fall in sales, to 719 units. Motorcycle sales were also down by 21.9% y-o-y, to 336 units. Overall, total vehicle sales were up by 17.5% over the first quarter of 2012, at 17,829 units.
Against this mixed backdrop, BMI will maintain its forecasts this quarter, as we feel the outlook for the local auto sector remains largely downbeat. Access to credit remains tight for Hungarian consumers seeking loans to purchase new vehicles, with VAT also having recently been raised to 27%, the highest level within the EU. However, we would add that this very strong start to 2012 new vehicle sales may well lead to some upward revisions to our current forecast as the year unfolds.
New car sales in Hungary ended 2011 up a modest 3.7% y-o-y, at nearly 44,925 units, falling closely in line with BMI's expectations of 3.4% y-o-y growth in the passenger car segment. This came in the wake of five consecutive years of contraction in the market.
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