By on June 18, 2013

Hopes of a bottoming of the European have been frustrated, and the small April uptick turned out as a flash in the pan.

We warned in April not to read too much into car data, caused by a curious confluence of calendars. We predicted two weeks ago that the EU market will continue on its downward trajectory. And so it does.

The new car market throughout the EU was down 5.9 percent in May, the auto manufacturer association ACEA says.  For the year, the market is down 6.8 percent. Among the volume markets, the UK (+11 percent) is the only one that is not down. Across the Channel, France is down 10.4 percent.

New Car Sales Europe May 2013
May January – May
    %Share Units Units % Chg     %Share Units Units % Chg
’13 ’12 ’13 ’12 13/12 ’13 ’12 ’13 ’12 13/12
ALL BRANDS 1,042,742 1,107,942 -5.9 5,070,840 5,443,226 -6.8
VW Group 25.4 24.6 264,768 272,375 -2.8 24.9 24.0 1,261,959 1,304,930 -3.3
VOLKSWAGEN 12.7 12.9 132,255 142,623 -7.3 12.6 12.7 636,665 690,044 -7.7
AUDI 5.9 5.7 61,368 63,364 -3.2 5.7 5.4 288,467 295,428 -2.4
SEAT 2.5 2.1 25,559 22,770 +12.2 2.4 2.0 120,706 109,794 +9.9
SKODA 4.0 3.9 41,205 43,351 -5.0 3.9 3.8 196,512 208,551 -5.8
Others (1) 0.4 0.0 4,381 267 +1540.8 0.4 0.0 19,609 1,113 +1661.8
PSA Group 11.0 12.0 115,191 132,670 -13.2 11.2 12.1 569,379 660,987 -13.9
PEUGEOT 6.1 6.5 64,034 72,191 -11.3 6.2 6.5 312,806 354,190 -11.7
CITROEN 4.9 5.5 51,157 60,479 -15.4 5.1 5.6 256,573 306,797 -16.4
RENAULT Grp 8.2 8.5 85,081 94,535 -10.0 8.5 8.4 431,341 458,504 -5.9
RENAULT 5.8 6.6 60,429 73,274 -17.5 6.3 6.7 318,433 362,610 -12.2
DACIA 2.4 1.9 24,652 21,261 +15.9 2.2 1.8 112,908 95,894 +17.7
GM Group 8.4 9.0 87,943 99,183 -11.3 8.0 8.3 403,784 453,822 -11.0
OPEL/VAUXHALL 7.2 7.4 74,563 81,679 -8.7 6.8 6.8 346,108 369,590 -6.4
CHEVROLET 1.3 1.6 13,373 17,482 -23.5 1.1 1.5 57,584 84,069 -31.5
GM (US) 0.0 0.0 7 22 -68.2 0.0 0.0 92 163 -43.6
FORD 8.0 7.5 82,953 83,185 -0.3 7.5 8.0 378,432 433,926 -12.8
FIAT Group 6.9 7.3 72,227 80,930 -10.8 6.6 6.8 333,058 368,039 -9.5
FIAT 5.4 5.4 56,155 59,763 -6.0 5.1 4.9 259,109 265,264 -2.3
LANCIA/CHRYS 0.7 0.9 7,568 9,668 -21.7 0.7 0.8 34,264 45,898 -25.3
ALFA ROMEO 0.6 0.8 6,647 8,792 -24.4 0.6 0.8 29,297 43,616 -32.8
JEEP 0.1 0.2 1,463 2,380 -38.5 0.2 0.2 8,697 11,352 -23.4
Others (2) 0.0 0.0 394 327 +20.5 0.0 0.0 1,691 1,909 -11.4
BMW Group 6.3 6.4 65,392 70,455 -7.2 6.3 6.0 316,998 325,579 -2.6
BMW 5.0 5.1 52,204 56,832 -8.1 5.1 4.8 256,686 261,785 -1.9
MINI 1.3 1.2 13,188 13,623 -3.2 1.2 1.2 60,312 63,794 -5.5
DAIMLER 5.6 5.2 58,360 57,977 +0.7 5.5 5.0 281,182 274,826 +2.3
MERCEDES 5.0 4.6 52,533 51,103 +2.8 5.0 4.5 251,632 242,580 +3.7
SMART 0.6 0.6 5,827 6,874 -15.2 0.6 0.6 29,550 32,246 -8.4
TOYOTA Grp 4.0 3.9 41,413 43,566 -4.9 4.2 4.4 210,579 239,555 -12.1
TOYOTA 3.8 3.7 39,865 41,278 -3.4 4.0 4.2 202,441 227,093 -10.9
LEXUS 0.1 0.2 1,548 2,288 -32.3 0.2 0.2 8,138 12,462 -34.7
NISSAN 3.2 2.9 33,747 31,884 +5.8 3.6 3.5 181,353 188,161 -3.6
HYUNDAI 3.3 3.1 34,904 34,251 +1.9 3.5 3.3 176,157 179,557 -1.9
KIA 2.8 2.8 29,449 30,556 -3.6 2.8 2.5 139,786 136,573 +2.4
VOLVO CAR 1.7 1.6 17,427 18,050 -3.5 1.7 1.8 84,924 95,402 -11.0
JLR 1.0 0.8 10,325 9,402 +9.8 1.2 1.0 61,141 54,049 +13.1
LAND ROVER 0.8 0.7 8,183 7,512 +8.9 1.0 0.8 49,075 43,839 +11.9
JAGUAR 0.2 0.2 2,142 1,890 +13.3 0.2 0.2 12,066 10,210 +18.2
HONDA 1.0 1.0 10,401 10,777 -3.5 1.2 1.0 61,006 55,165 +10.6
SUZUKI 1.2 1.2 12,095 13,189 -8.3 1.2 1.2 60,129 67,354 -10.7
MAZDA 1.0 0.7 10,322 7,950 +29.8 1.1 1.0 54,991 53,590 +2.6
MITSUBISHI 0.5 0.6 5,577 6,385 -12.7 0.6 0.6 28,428 33,722 -15.7
OTHER** 0.5 1.0 5,167 10,622 -51.4 0.7 1.1 36,213 59,485 -39.1
Source: ACEA

Among the volume makers Daimler (+0.7 percent) and Ford (-0.3 percent) look the best. The Ford data give rise to the hope that the Blue Oval can stem the European hemorrhage earlier than others. Bloomberg says that ” Ford  is counting on new models such as the EcoSport compact sport-utility vehicle to help reduce reliance on low-margin sales to rental-car companies in Europe to stem losses in the region.”  Ford definitely has more reason for optimism than GM.

The GM Group shows no sign of a turn-around, actually, its downward spiral is getting slightly steeper. Down 11 percent for the year, the GM Group was down 11.3 percent in May. RenCen’s big hope, the Chevroletification of Europe as a counterweight to moribund Opel, fizzles fast. Chevrolet sales were down 23.5 percent in Europe, while Opel lost 8.7 percent. GM sold a grand total of 7 (seven) cars imported from America. Any hopes of Cadillac (not even on the list) creating trouble for European premium makers are seen as a symptom of a deranged mind in Europe. GM partner PSA  was down 13.2 percent in May.

Europe’s largest maker Volkswagen looks relatively OK and should do better as its bread & butter Golf reaches wider distribution. Seat’s comeback is interesting.

Finally keep an eye on the low-cost brand Dacia, Renault’s answer to European austerity programs.

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20 Comments on “Europe In May 2013: Ford OK, GM Definitely Not OK...”

  • avatar

    I am surprised that Honda does so poorly in Europe…almost the same amount of sales as the much more premium (?) brands of JLR, which seem to be doing pretty decently with a solid 10% increase. Hell, even Suzuki is selling more than Honda!

    • 0 avatar

      I think the lack of European penetration by the Japanese Big 3 is worth a series of articles here.

      It’s a topic with enormous click potential and would be particularly timely after the recent snit here about alleged American protectionism.

      For a continent that doesn’t do pickup trucks, why hasn’t the decades-old superiority of Japanese mass production simply obliterated the goofy little European marques and nipped VW’s ascendency in the bud?

      I realize that the European market is losing significance even faster than America’s, but what about the years, say, 1970-2000? How did the Euros keep out Japan Inc.?

      I’d make a lot of kettle corn for that.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        It’s not that difficult to figure out. European customers weren’t pushed into trying Japanese cars in large numbers by fuel crises, significant declines in quality and driveability, or decades of managerial failure to effectively respond to changing market conditions. The US experience was the aberration.

        • 0 avatar

          “The US experience was the aberration.”

          Asia, Africa and the Middle East don’t buy Japanese?
          But I know your point is about the defeat of significant native production and these other areas had none.

          So European product was already too competitive for Japan to displace?

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            European product was basically equal to the Japanese in economy, refinement, technology, etc. Both regions had their industrial base pulverized in World War II, and rebuilt from almost scratch afterwards. Pretty much everything the Japanese brought to the table by 1970 was also available to the (western) European customer from local sources.

            An illuminating example might the fate of the UK auto industry, which screwed up 10x worse than Detroit and was obliterated in all but name, to be replaced by imports from the continent and Asia.

          • 0 avatar

            This doesn’t explain how the Japanese eradicated Morris, Triumph, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, MG, Renault, and Lancia from the US market. They drove the Europeans out of many smaller markets too. Fans of Peugeots sometimes boast about their African market presence, which is 100% down to political presence and has as much to do with the suitability of the car as Tiger Woods driving a Buick.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            The Japanese didn’t do that. Their own bumbling and poor product eventually did them in. Half of that list doesn’t even exist as viable auto makers anymore, and 2 of the 3 survivors found their way back into the US by piggybacking on other marques.

      • 0 avatar

        Hey Summicron!

        I don’t think it’s really that difficult. 1st off there’s an undeniable degree of economic nationalism, on the part of govs and people. More on the part of consumers than govs in Northern Europe and more on the govs’ part than consumers in the South (in other words, Italian consumers are less nationalistic than Germany’s while their gov is more).

        Second, the kind of cars. In the 70s and 80s what was the difference between a Japanese Corolla and a VW Polo? Much less than between a Ford Gran Torino and a Civic for example.

        Third, traditional driving templates. Europeans grew up in small cars and were involved in the driving. The numb, isolating nature of a Camry is attractive to an American, not a European. Honda sportiness? Talk about that to VW, Fiat and Peugeot drivers (not to mention Euro Fords).

        Finally, the Japanese trump card: reliability. As people adopted Japanese cars in less numbers, it gave Euro makers more space to catch up. If you drove a Fiat in the 70s and drive a modern Fiat, the quality difference is so great, reliability is so improved, that is would give you little reason to change. American mentality is/was that cars in the past were/are always better somehow. Europeans meanwhile have seen their cars improving and think they are better off now than in the past.

        Anyways, that could be the beginning of an explanation.

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks, Marcello

          I freely admit to having spent my life in a Body-by-Fisher cocoon of ignorance prior to discovering Japanese cars. My family’s involvement with VWs ended with the Dasher/411 era. Crappy rust buckets, as I recall.

          • 0 avatar

            I have mentioned this many, many, many times when some people said: “Look at those small import numbers in Japan. It MUST be a closed market, even if we can’t tell you where it is closed.”

            Asian makes traditionally hovered between 15 and below 20 percent share in all of Europe, lower in countries with a strong domestic car industry. Not so much because of nationalism (we did a lot of studies on that), simply because the domestics offered more choice, a denser dealer and service network, and more Prestige.

            The US is the only large market I know that has a big domestic auto industry and a large share of foreign brands. Oh, and China.

          • 0 avatar

            “Oh, and China.”

            Ouch… after reading Bernstein, that’s twisting the knife.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey Bertel! On nationalism, and I freely admit that is just my feeling from talking with multitudes of Europeans over the years, I won’t dispute the research. However, I don’t think it’s much of a surprise. In a continent like Europe, so scared by intercine wars over thousands of years up until very recently, nationalism is a dirty word, and a sentiment that few people admit to. Having said that, I think it’s a feeling that still informs people’s decisions, even if on an unconscious level that one is not aware of. That’s very hard to track with any kind of research.

            And yes, I forgot about the dealership penetration. very strong factor. Some people here were gibbly forecasting the Hyundai HB20 killing everybody. I told them it’ll take more than a while if at all. Parts, maintenance etc.

      • 0 avatar

        When the European companies came to North America, they sold European cars, which were different in many ways to American cars, and appealed only to a niche market.

        When the Japanese came in a big way, they brought cars that were much more like American cars – only smaller, and with (for many years) fewer options. They looked and drove much like American cars, were reliable and got good fuel economy. They therefore appealed to a far bigger customer base than the Europeans did, and hit a market segments that the D3 didn’t really participate in.

        This latter point was very important when the oil shocks hit in the 70’s – Americans decided they wanted smaller cars with great gas mileage, and the Japanese were their to deliver. Great timing, however accidental.

        European customers want European cars. Japanese cars, by and large, weren’t European enough and didn’t compete in a sny segment that the European makers weren’t already heavily invested in. So, Europe was a much tougher market for the product that the Japaese built, and results have showed that.

  • avatar

    An OK month for Ford and a bad month for GM … but YTD GM is still less bad than Ford. We should wait another month to see which one is a blip and which one is a spiral.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah it agree. Didn’t look so good to ford on ytd numbers. But, it looks like the monthly numbers are kicking up.

      Plus you also have to figure ford is a plant closing spree. There aim is even with less sales to still pull a profit. Much like there plan here was, and has worked successfully.

      • 0 avatar

        Fundamentally, yes, Ford is doing the right things in Europe (though GM is now moving in that direction, too). Will it work? It’ll be interesting to watch.

        Five-year perspective, Jan-May sales in 2008 vs 2013
        Ford brand: 696K vs 378K, down 46%
        Opel/Vauxhall: 759K vs 346K, down 55%
        Grim numbers for both! Mind you, Fiat is down 63% … (PSA is in Ford/GM territory, Renault and VW have declined much less.)

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, but we should wait more than a month. Any given month can vary widely, for a host of reasons, so one has to look at the longer treand line.

      YTD, it look like (among high-volume players) VW, BMW, Daimler and Renault are outperforming the market, while PSA, GM, Ford, Fiat and Toyota are underperforming.

      Outperforming a shrinking market is no cause for rejoicing, but underperforming a shrinking market should be treated as a crisis. Who will, and who won’t?

  • avatar

    I will admit to glossing over these numbers in the past. So, while admitting my purposeful ignorance, can someone explain to me how both Suzuki and Mazda sell more cars in Europe than Honda? Or are these just import figures, not taking into account locally built vehicles? Volvo sells more cars than Honda? Have I come to a parallel universe? The heading of the chart does say “New car sales Europe”.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Honda has a much larger footprint in the US than their global scale might otherwise indicate. Sorta the inverse of Volkswagen in that regard.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve been able to go on no frills trips to France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain & Portugal in the past couple of years, and anecdotally speaking, I rarely saw Hondas. Fits (or Jazz as they are called in those markets) were around here & there, but I recall one Civic in Berlin and it was very different from US spec Civic. It looked like a spaceship. Toyotas were relatively abundant in all of the countries as were Nissans. I saw a fair number of Mazda 3 hatchbacks in Germany. Way more Hyundais and Kias than Hondas too.

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