August sales reports are starting to come in and the European market continues to be soft, with new car sales down 11% in France and 18% in Spain from the same period last year. Analysts attribute part of the Spanish decline to increased sales in August 2012 ahead of a 3% VAT increase last September. With new government subsidies now in place in Spain, September 2013 sales should go up.
In France, registrations were down with Ford, VW and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen being the biggest losers. Volkswagen group sales in France were down 24%, Ford -19% and the French PSA combine was down 17%. August is typically a slow sales month in France because it’s the time of year when many French families vacation, but the overall 11% decline in August was only slightly worse than year to date sales which are down 10%. On the gaining side were GM, up 16% on Chevrolet sales being up 64%, Fiat, up 10% and Renault just barely exceeded Aug 2012 sales, up 2%. Mercedes-Benz sales were down 37%, reflecting the continuing dispute between Damiler and French authorities over their use of the banned R134a air conditioning refrigerant. A court injunction last week lifted the French ban on the sale of those Mercedes-Benz models.