European Car Sales Down 12.3 Percent in April
The fat lady of ACEA (European Auto Manufacturers Association) has sung her aria of April auto acquisitions. If you just want the skinny (as opposed to the fat): sales in all of Europe are down 12.3 percent compared to April 2008. Four months into 2009, the market decrease amounts to 15.9 percent. Compared to the carmageddon elsewhere, this ain’t so bad. A closer look reveals a mixed bag of surprising champs and walking dead.
First off, if Europe were counted as a whole (as it should, given that it mostly has a common currency, common borders, and common commissars in Brussels calling the shots), Europe would by far be the largest auto market in the universe, outdistancing the contracting USA and upstart China by a huge margin. But for some unfathomable reason, industry-types and their media lackeys insist on counting the European countries separately, and we shall leave it at that.
Saturated Western Europe surprised analysts by falling only 11.6 percent in April, while the new EU member states in the East, widely seen as a growth market, cratered by 21.4 percent.
Robust cash4clunker programs lifted April sales in Austria (+12.8 percent) and Germany (+19.4 percent). Countries with meeker shredding schemes got away with single digit decreases: France (-7.1 percent), Italy (-7.5 percent) and Luxembourg (-8.5 percent). British and Spanish registrations fell by 24.0 percent and 45.6 percent respectively. In the near dead category, Iceland leads with -88.4 percent, followed by Ireland (-66.7 percent) and Finland (-52.1 percent).
In the new EU Member States, gains in Poland (+2.4 percent), the Czech Republic (+19.0 percent) and Slovakia (+43.5 percent) were off-set by Hungary (-51.5 percent), Romania (-51.8 percent) and others.
Brand-wise, Chrysler-loving Fiat recorded the only plus, with a five percent gain. Volkswagen lost a negligible 2.3 percent while boosting its European market share to 22.6 percent, far outdistancing PSA (which has a 12.8 percent share of the European market).
Those “in the know” had predicted that ToMoCo would gain from the cash4clunkers bonanza. Nope. They took it in the shorts with a -22.8 percent sales decrease in April.
Luxury cars are still a hard sell: Daimler (-26.6 percent) and BMW (-31.1 percent). European buyers shun brands in trouble: Chrysler (-54.4 percent), SAAB (-60.4 percent) and imported GM gear (-63.7 percent). GM as a whole is doing slightly better than the market, “boasting” a -10.8 percent decrease. If you want the stats in all their bloody and gory detail, download them here.
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