Yesterday, Volkswagen sent out a gushing report, saying that group deliveries rose 6 percent in April and 8.6 percent January to April. Something smells in Wolfsburg. Let’s take a look.
Europe, Volkswagen’s largest market by far, is beginning to be a big drag on the German juggernaut. In March, group sales in Europe were still up a bit. When the European manufacturers association ACEA reports its April data in the coming week, Volkswagen will have a big minus in front of its sales data.
Volkswagen’s press release hides this fact, it only cites a 1.6 percent gain for all of Europe in the first four months and gives no data for April. Usually, this type of selective reporting is a warning sign. However Volkswagen has reported that way for a while.
With a little digging in the archives and spreadsheet work, the following picture emerges. The blue numbers are calculated from archival data, the black numbers are as reported by Volkswagen AG.
|4M’12||4M’11||YoY||Apr ’12||Apr ’11||YoY|
|WEUR ex D||661,400||703,000||-5.9%||154,300||171,100||-9.8%|
April was a mixed month for Volkswagen, and the bad most likely will get worse. The times of double-digit growth rates seem to be over for a while. Volkswagen sales in Europe appear to be down by 2.7 percent in April, with Western Europe (ex Germany) down nearly 10 percent. South America also took a 9.3 percent hit. The negative numbers are offset by strong deliveries in China, up 16.8 percent and the U.S., up 27.4 percent in April. With nearly half of VW’s sales in Europe, it takes a lot of pumping in other markets to keep the ship from taking on water. Even if Volkswagen goes into minus territory, it will be far from sinking. Any hopes of becoming the number one automaker or even remaining in the number 2 position are quickly fading.
Now imagine how other European makers will perform that don’t have the global cushion Volkswagen has. Bad news for Opel, PSA, Fiat and Renault.