Now, it is beginning to hurt: The European new car market crashed in February. According to data released by the European manufacturers’ association ACEA, new car sales were down 9.7 percent in February. Two months into the year, car sales in the EU are down 8.3 percent from the same period a year earlier.
The harmless looking percentages hide the fact that this February was the worst of the millennium. Only 888,878 units changed hands in the EU27 in February, the lowest level since comparing months made sense (going back further is futile, the EU was much smaller then…) Even during carmageddon, Europe had not seen a February as bad as this one.
EU basket cases Greece and Portugal saw their new car sales nearly halved. These are relatively unimportant markets, by now, tiny Luxemburg has more car sales than Greece. If Greece would leave the EU, it would not even register in the car statistics. What hurts much more is the deterioration of the volume markets. France is down 20.2 percent, not boding well for PSA and Renault. Italy is down 18.9 percent, putting pressure on Fiat. Flat sales in Germany spared Europe a double digit tanking.
|VOLVO CAR CORP.||1.8||1.7||15,635||16,579||-5.7|
|JAGUAR LAND ROVER Group||0.8||0.4||6,786||4,396||+54.4|
On the manufacturer front, the Volkswagen Group solidified its leadership. Its market share climbed 1.7 percent to 23.7 percent in February. PSA lost 1.1 percent, Renault lost 1.8 percent, Fiat lost 0.6 percent. These makers not only have maximum exposure to their home markets. They also are heavy in the troubled south of Europe and are weak in developing markets.
The GM Group is holding its own, losing only 0.4 percent of share. A 0.8 percent loss at Opel was buffered by a 0.4 percent gain in market share of Chevrolet. It looks like GM is busy propping up Chevrolet at the expense of Opel/Vauxhall. Two month into the year, Opel’s sales have dropped 20.3 percent, whereas Chevrolet has gained 22 percent.
Toyota and Nissan lose, Hyundai and Kia gain. Hyundai is now in spitting distance from Nissan, and not too far from Toyota.