Though Ford, VAG’s Seat brand, and Renault’s low-cost Dacia posted gains, overall car and light truck sales in June in Europe were down 6.3% compared to June of 2012, weighed down by declining sales at VW, Opel, Fiat and PSA. According to Automotive News, only 1.18 million new vehicles were registered in the EU and EFTA, the lowest they’ve been in two decades.
VAG sales overall were down 4.4%, with Audi showing the biggest decline at 8.9%. VW branded car sales went down 6.6% and Skoda was off by almost 7%. PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) was down 11%, while Fiat overall sales were down 13.6% with the Fiat brand itself down 6%. GM did not have a good month in Europe, with overall sales down 9.9%. Opel and Vauxhall were down 7.2% and Chevrolet was down 23%. BMW was off by 7.7%. On the positive side were Renault at +0.9%, with Dacia’s 16.4% jump more than balancing a 3.3% drop for Renault branded cars. Mercedes posted a modest 2% gain, Seat was up 11 percent and Ford sales increased by 7%.
Some analysts see a dim light at the end of a dark tunnel. Commerzbank’s Sascha Gommel said, “It’s still a weak car market, and I don’t think that it will get better in the very near future. I wouldn’t expect a recovery in the second half, but rather a stabilization at a low level.”
Others were not as optimistic. Renault and PSA executives repeated projections that showed an overall drop of 5% for the full year, which would make 2013 the sixth year in a row with declining sales in Europe. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said earlier this month that the European car market will probably shrink some more in 2014 and 2015. Fiat head Sergio Marchionne doesn’t expect Europe to improve “for years”. Even BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer, who is a little more optimistic, said recently that European markets would not start to improve until the second half of 2014
By country, Germany was down 4.7%, France was down 8.4% and Italy down 5.5% as unemployment and austerity measures have their impact. The UK bucked the trend, with its 16th month in a row of gains, up 13.4%.