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Autofield Blog

European Blues


By:

22. October 2012

To describe the auto sales situation in Europe as being “dismal” is akin to describing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai as being “tall.”

Accurate but insufficient.

According to JATO Dynamics, vehicle sales in Europe are continuing on downward trajectory. September sales were the lowest of the year, down 11.2% compared to September 2011. In Germany sales were off 10.9% (although Audi and BMW were up in September compared to last year, and the VW Golf is the top-selling European model, though its sales in the third quarter of 2012 were down 17.2% compared with Q3 2011). France saw a September decline of 17.9%, Italy 25.5%, and Spain down a whopping 40.9% compared with year-earlier sales.

2013_Golf_TDI2

Which is really quite awful, to again, put it mildly.

Take a look at this chart from JATO Dynamics:

Top 10 Models

Make & Model

Sep_12

Sep_11

% Change Sep

Sep YtD_12

Sep YtD_11

% Change YtD

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF

38,669

49,172

-21.4%

340,448

376,912

-9.7%

FORD FIESTA

31,468

36,386

-13.5%

238,345

275,419

-13.5%

OPEL/VAUXHALL CORSA

30,581

34,820

-12.2%

211,088

245,559

-14.0%

FORD FOCUS

24,061

31,868

-24.5%

190,418

225,439

-15.5%

PEUGEOT 208

23,225

1

-

97,228

1

-

OPEL/VAUXHALL ASTRA

22,092

27,277

-19.0%

183,028

230,938

-20.7%

VOLKSWAGEN POLO

20,571

31,778

-35.3%

225,044

274,623

-18.1%

RENAULT CLIO

19,988

28,286

-29.3%

180,130

228,829

-21.3%

NISSAN QASHQAI

18,828

20,086

-6.3%

160,968

162,671

-1.0%

TOYOTA YARIS

17,933

10,638

+68.6%

134,066

103,938

+29.0%

With the exception of the Toyota Yaris, things aren’t looking good for any of the models. (Interesting to note that compared with last September, Yaris U.S. sales were down 30.2%, but the model is up 50.8% for the year so far compared to last. What’s more, European Yaris sales dwarf those of the U.S., which are only 23,818 units year-to-date.)

Toyota Yaris

Some people in the U.S. look at what’s happening in the European market and say that it is a drag on General Motors and Ford in the U.S. market. Which is arguably true.

But consider something else. Note how the Ford Fiesta and the Ford Focus are in the top 10 of overall sales. Those two models are essentially the same as the Fiesta and Focus found in the U.S. Which means that Ford has been able to amortize all manner of costs—from engineering and development though to sourcing—by having global products. The Opel/Vauxhall models provide similar underpinnings—not as comprehensive as in the case of Ford, but there nonetheless—for GM products in the U.S. (e.g., the Chevrolet Cruze and the Buick Verano).

No global manufacturer can afford to ignore any market, be it a weakling like Europe or a robust one like China.

Pulling out of a market when times are bad means that it is all the more costly to get back in when things have improved.

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