A few months ago, we discussed what Nissan/Renault’s Carlos Ghosn calls a “structural decline” of Europe: Missing car buyers, brought on by a sudden decline of births around 1970. A population peak that now sits smack in the middle of the prime new car buying age, which in most of Europe is between 40 and 60 years, will retire in a few years, throwing Europe’s car industry in turmoil. Daimler, which has some of the oldest buyers, is beginning to feel the pain.
Daimler told Reuters and its shareholders that it might cut its 2013 profit expectations this month, which many analysts had not bought in the first place.
“Not much tailwind is anticipated from the markets in the coming months. For Europe in particular, there are no signs of a trend reversal,” said Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche. Eroding sales in Europe and problems in China, paired with institutional arrogance, made Daimler fall far behind rivals Audi and BMW.
At the cheap end of the spectrum, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said the company’s losses in Europe could be worse than expected this year.