No, you are not hallucinating. Germany’s February car sales are out. Bottles of champagne will soon follow. Unbelievably, German cars sales rose in February by 21 percent. This is what the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA) told Automobilwoche [sub]. 278.000 units were moved. “These are the highest February sales numbers in the last ten years, ” VDA-President Matthias Wissmann said at the Geneva auto show. “For the first time in six months, registrations are growing. We expect that domestic sales of the complete first quarter will be above prior year numbers,” Wissmann said. It’s getting even better, much better:
A lot of German cars are made to order. In the last week of January, orders jumped 16 percent. In February, orders skyrocketed a mind-numbing 63 percent.
What caused the run on the showrooms? According to the VDA, it was triggered by the reform of the vehicle tax, and especially by the extremely successful clunker-culling program. Germany’s government hands €2.5K to everybody who drives his old car to the wrecking yard and gets a new ride. Supposedly, this was only helping low-budget imports. Not so, says the VDA. Compact and mid-sized cars are selling just as briskly as small ones. Also, says Wissman, “50 percent of the customers who drive their old one to the wrecking yard end up buying German.” Volkswagen sold 23 percent more, their Czech subsidiary Skoda added nearly 75 percent. Even their Spanish ugly duckling Seat added 19 percent. According to Volkswagen’s hometown paper Wolfsburger Allgemeine, VW received orders for 125K Golfs in February, common are 40K-50K for the month. Instead of sending workers home, VW is now planning special weekend shifts to keep up with the demand. Certain Golf models have delivery times until June.
The only ones left behind by Germany’s Economic Miracle II are the luxury cars. Audi is doing OK with an increase of 0.4 percent. BMW lost 25 percent and Mercedes shed 26.9 percent in February. Their Smart marque rose by 16 percent.
All in all, giving money to people who buy cars seems to work better than handing it to people who, well, uh, buy Gulfstreams.