Germany In January: Ouch, That Hurts

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Germany is suffering from Abwrackprämien-withdrawal. Message to dealers: Not this month, we have a headache. January sales are down 4.3 percent compared to January 2009. Only 181,189 new cars found their way on Deutschland’s roads. 4.3 percent may not sound earth shattering. But we are comparing with an exceptionally crummy January 2009, when sales were so awful that Berlin quickly launched their German cash-for-clunkers Abwrackprämien program. This time around, Germans bought even less. It’s been the most miserable January in some 20 years.

germany in january ouch that hurts

This chart (click to enlarge,) provided by the German Kraftfahrtbundesamt, shows how the program had propelled sales into a stratospheric trajectory.

And now, the German sales missile augers in. As we go forward into the year and compare with higher and higher sales, the percentage changes will be dramatic.

Not all brands lost. Amongst the volume brands, Renault/Dacia gained 39 percent, Volkswagen gained 10 percent and is absolute market leader with 42,263 units sold. Interestingly, #2 unit seller is Mercedes (14,328 units sold, – 18.1 percent,) followed by BMW (13,922 units sold, – 15 percent.) Top percentage gainer is Nissan (+ 206.1 percent,) followed by Skoda (+ 43.8 percent) and – surprise – Chevrolet (+ 43.7 percent to 1,713 units sold.)

For 2010, die industry organization VDA expects sales between 2.75m and 3m, compared to 3.81m in 2009. If the January headache turns into a chronic migraine, it could be less.

Detailed data are available for download.

Join the conversation
  • Midelectric Midelectric on Feb 02, 2010

    So both BMW and Mercedes sell more cars in Germany than Opel? Ouch.

    • Johnthacker Johnthacker on Feb 02, 2010

      Yes, but don't forget that BMW and Mercedes sell a lot of lower-end cars in Europe that they don't bring over here for fear of disturbing their high-end image. Cars like the BMW 316i and its 120 HP engine, or the Mercedes C180 and its 156 HP 4 cylinder engine.

  • Steven02 Steven02 on Feb 02, 2010

    Seeing that video... I don't want to ever be near a rocket that is being tested.

    • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Feb 02, 2010

      This is what happens when you drive off (or worse) much of your best and brightest and then, amid a collapsing infrastructure, build your advanced technology with slaves. Such a business model has been tried time and again and has never proved sustainable.

  • Andy D Andy D on Feb 02, 2010

    Great video.Is Mercedes making any money on US Smarts yet? I see them all over the highways around Boston.

    • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Feb 02, 2010

      Nope, they have done everything to give them the appearance of desirability but the numbers (fuel prices and sales volume) are working against them. Disclosure: I am a happy driver of a 2004 ForTwo Brabus coupe. (Oh, btw, tonite I tried the full-throttle full-brake test ... car is equipped with ePedal Accelerator, Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), ABS & ESP ... car doesn't default to idle ... AMT gets hinky (clutch seems to semi-release) and I had to suspend the tests for fear of damaging the automated clutch's friction-plate.)