As we all know, the European car market is in bad shape. France, one of Europe’s volume markets, is especially hard hit. The month of May was no exception. The French market was down 10.3 percent. Red ink and nose blood was running just about everywhere. Everywhere except Fiat. Fiat, the Italian patient, looks amazingly alive in France. Their passenger vehicle sales were up a whopping 12.3 percent in May and 6 percent for the first five months. In a market that tanks, just staying afloat would be a big deal. Double digit is huge. It was, until the scrappy auto site 7pm-auto.fr started digging. They found that the growth was made by dealers buying their own cars.
Says 7pm-auto in its daily bulletin (“Every day at 7pm – 20 minutes to read”):
“Since January 2013, the Italian car maker has lost 22% of registrations to individuals. But at the same time, self-registrations in the dealer channel increased by 26.4%. You want more? Fleet sales to companies and government : +31%. Short-term rental sales +48.3%. “
Looks like someone is desperate to make sales, non?
We called 7pm-auto Editor-in-Chief Ali Hammami in Paris, to discuss the fact, as often written at TTAC, that short-term self-registrations by dealers are a common phenomenon in Europe. Cars are reported as sold, they earn a hefty bonus for “making the numbers,” the manufacturer looks the other way, because a sale is a sale, right? So we ask Ali what the average self registration number was in France for the first five months.
“2.1 percent,” says Hammami.
And for Fiat in the same period?
“22 percent,” he answers.
Someone is really trying to look good ….
Pugnacious 7pm-auto already attracted attention of Reuters and other media. Keep your eyes on them – if you speak French, that is.