Allegedly a basket case, Europe finished the year without major losses, at least as far as new car sales go. 13.1 million cars were registered in the EU last year for aslight 1.74 percent loss compared to 2010. That according to data released today by the European auto manufacturer’s association ACEA. If the common market EU would count as one common car market, then Europe would rank second, after China with 18.5 million, and before the U.S.A. with 12.8 million (excl. heavy trucks & buses.) But fear not, the EU does not count as one market, at least not as far as heavy metal is concerned.
Basically, new car sales in Europe have been going sideways for decades. (Forget the irritating red percentage change line. Look at the bars.) The downward tenor since 2007 is more a reflection of ageing and shrinking populations in Europe’s volume markets than a result of booms or busts. Europe as a whole does not have the wild swings of the U.S., where many people have three cars, or of China, where most people still don’t have a car. Europe is filled with capable carmakers who defend their territory with tooth and nails.
(Note to the crowd that likes to blame miserable sales elsewhere on secret import restrictions: The “non-EU” brands – no matter where the cars are made – have a share of 16.6 percent of the European market. It’s been like this as long as I can remember.)
New car registrations 2011, EU 27
|Jan – Dec||Jan – Dec||% Chg|
|EUROPEAN UNION (EU27)||13,111,209||13,343,302||-1.74%|
More than 80 percent of all EU sales are generated in a special part of Europe called “the volume countries” in the EU car biz. The volume countries are Germany, France, the UK, Spain, and Benelux. What happens here shapes the market. You see nearly 9 percent growth in Germany, single digit losses in France and the UK, double digit losses in Italy and Spain.
New car registrations 2011, EU 27 by manufacturer group
|January – December|
|VOLVO CAR CORP.||1.8||1.6||234,613||213,324||+10.0|
|JAGUAR LAND ROVER||0.7||0.7||95,225||91,863||+3.7|
No breathtaking changes on the manufacturer front. Volkswagen continues to grow. It gained 2 percent more market share. No other carmaker gained (or lost) that much of the European market. Hyundai & Kia grow steadily. Nissan is the Japanese surprise.
Imported cars from the U.S. are unsalable: GM had imported 1070 U.S. cars in 2010 . That dropped to 440 in 2011. The 172,000 “Chevrolets” come from Korea.
If you give the data a good read, then you will see a divided Europe. Northern and most of Eastern Europe are doing just fine, thank you. Vacation lands Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece are hard hit.
OIf there is so much bleeding, why is there so much foot-dragging about saving the Euro? The low Euro powers the export machine in the north. The stellar earnings of Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW et al are driven by strong exports and strong sales in foreign markets. The weaker the Euro, the better for them.