Europe Sales Picture Improving, Slowly

Declines from year-ago are getting smaller month by month, and when December is added in, the year will be down about 5.5%.

William Diem, Correspondent

December 15, 2010

2 Min Read
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PARIS – Europe’s automotive market is showing definite signs of recovery, although sales in the 29 countries remained down 6.5% in November.

The source of optimism is the German car market, which was down only 6.2% in the month, according to Ward's data. The comparisons with year-ago are beginning to be more favorable, in part because prior to November 2009 the German market was boosted by the effects of a €2,500 ($3,340) scrappage subsidy.

Through 11 months, German car sales remain 25.2% below like-2009. As it is the biggest market on the continent, it has dragged European sales down 5.7%. If Germany was flat with year-ago, the European market would be up 1.3%.

Some of the slack has been taken up by markets other than the big five of Germany, France, the U.K., Italy and Spain. In November, those five countries were down 13%, while sales in the other 22 markets were up by 17%.

The 12 markets of Central and Eastern Europe saw sales rise 20.4% to 79,244 units in November, continuing a revival there that started in September. Those countries did not offer scrappage subsidies last year.

Year-to-date, the big five markets are down 9.7% and the smaller markets are up 10.4%.

Russia, which is not included in the European figures, saw sales jump 82.8% in November, continuing a revival that began in April. To date, Russia is up 27.5% and should surpass 1,850,000 units by the end of the year.

Alfa among brands posting a better November.

Sales in Europe total 12,349,743 units through November, and the month marked the eighth straight month in which volume trailed year-ago. However, declines are getting smaller month by month, and when December is added in, the year will be down about 5.5%.

Several brands that have been doing badly this year had a good month in November. Mercedes-Benz, Opel/Vauxhall, Chevrolet, Alfa Romeo and Skoda are all down on the year, but positive in November. Other marques such as Dacia, Audi, BMW, Mini, Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Land Rover continued to outpace 2009.

Year-to-date, four groups remain ahead of 2009 in cumulative sales: Tata Motors Ltd. (+13.2%), Renault SA (+7.1%), Hyundai-Kia Group (+4.9%) and BMW AG (+4.9%).

Trailing year-ago are PSA Peugeot Citroen (-0.6%), Daimler AG (-2.9%), Volkswagen AG (-5.0%), Ford Motor Co. (-8.7%), General Motors Co. (-9.5%), the Japanese auto makers (-11.2%), Fiat Automobiles SpA (-16.7%) and Chrysler Group LLC (-35.0%).

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