Europe In March 2010: Up 11.1 Percent. Ford Largest Brand?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
europe in march 2010 up 11 1 percent ford largest brand

The European Car Manufacturers Association has released its March numbers for Europe. At first glance, they are promising: New car registrations in the EU (as defined in Brussels) were 10.8 percent higher than in the same month of 2009. In the EU27 plus EFTA (including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) registrations rose 11.1 percent. From here on, we will use the EU27 plus EFTA definition, just like the industry usually does.

A lot of the growth is the last hurrah caused by expiring cash-for-clunkers programs. Then, there is the Ford surprise, which we had been tracking since yesterday.

Most countries in Europe recovered from the doomsday levels of early 2009. However, registrations are still more than 9 percent below the first quarter of 2008. In Europe, the difference between gloom or doom is caused by government incentive programs. In Germany, where the Abwrackprämie had caused a huge boom last year, registrations shrank by 26.6 percent to 294,375 units in March. As mentioned before, it will get worse. The UK suddenly accounted for almost 400,000 new cars, or 26.6 percent more than in 2009. The UK displaced Italy as Europe’s largest car market in March. Germany, traditionally Europe’s largest market, is defending its #2 position against Italy. For the first three quarters, Germany is still in the #1 spot, but Italy is only 4179 cars behind.

Why the sudden jump in the UK? Bangers for cash is running out. Likewise, most programs in Europe will be phased out in 2010. This explains the run on cars in Italy (up 19.6 percent), France (up 17.9 percent) and Spain (+63.1 percent compared an absolutely miserable March 2009.) Results in other European markets are mixed, see table.

Europe’s Largest Car Markets March 2010MarchMarch% ChgJan – MarJan – Mar% Chg’10’0910/09’10’0910/09UNITED KINGDOM397,383313,912+26.6611,548480,358+27.3GERMANY294,375400,965-26.6670,410868,090-22.8ITALY257,694215,443+19.6666,231540,223+23.3FRANCE242,707205,823+17.9594,720508,559+16.9SPAIN124,75676,501+63.1286,167197,993+44.5BELGIUM64,33050,258+28.0161,297143,852+12.1NETHERLANDS45,21634,532+30.9145,535124,634+16.8AUSTRIA33,27026,477+25.775,93864,296+18.1POLAND29,34331,098-5.679,08387,963-10.1SWEDEN25,65218,035+42.259,14743,937+34.6PORTUGAL23,86012,758+87.053,77731,783+69.2GREECE19,05313,372+42.559,36549,211+20.6CZECH REPUBLIC17,44612,410+40.639,33931,075+26.6IRELAND13,8137,764+77.942,55432,447+31.1DENMARK11,2829,858+14.430,56425,095+21.8FINLAND9,10810,741-15.229,08429,493-1.4SLOVENIA5,8955,360+10.015,74814,648+7.5LUXEMBURG5,8064,768+21.813,42312,090+11.0SLOVAKIA5,3976,488-16.811,79012,696-7.1HUNGARY4,3719,356-53.310,18122,650-55.1ROMANIA4,0278,124-50.48,81929,126-69.7BULGARIA1,2502,202-43.23,3566,100-45.0ESTONIA653824-20.81,5992,572-37.8LITHUANIA501629-20.31,3751,899-27.6LATVIA290372-22.08211,309-37.3EUROPEAN UNION (EU27)1,637,4781,478,070+10.83,671,8713,362,099+9.2SWITZERLAND27,30723,664+15.464,56559,111+9.2NORWAY11,4867,601+51.130,27719,241+57.4ICELAND15673+113.7321290+10.7EFTA38,94931,338+24.395,16378,642+21.0EU27+EFTA1,676,4271,509,408+11.13,767,0343,440,741+9.5

Now, for the Ford story. Of course it’s bunk. The Volkswagen Group remains Europe’s largest car maker, with a 19.8 percent share (down 0.4 from March 09), followed by PSA (13 percent) and, whoa, Ford: With an 11.8 percent share, Ford has kicked Renault (9.9 percent) off the podium and is in #3 position.

As we told you yesterday, be careful when you read today’s news. Lo and behold, the Freep headlines “Ford beats VW, takes No. 1 spot in Europe.” Not to be outdone, the DetN misleads with “Ford takes top spot in Europe for March.” As demonstrated above, it’s nonsense. With a small grain of truth in the nonsense.

If you would look at single brands only (which nobody in his or her right mind does,) you would notice that the Ford brand (without Volvo) sold 171,122 units in the Europe as defined above. The Volkswagen brand (without Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and the ones I forgot) alone sold 171,604 cars. Ouch, VW is 482 cars ahead of Ford. Ok, let’s drop Iceland, Norway and Switzerland off the European map and count the 27 EU countries only: Hooray! Ford sold 168,611 units, Volkswagen 167,313 units: Ford is ahead by 1,298 cars and is declared Europe’s largest brand in March. Let’s not talk about the first quarter, that would distract.

The whole exercise is a propaganda ploy, meant to sidetrack the unwitting reader who isn’t trained in the semantic nuances of “brand” versus “manufacturer.” If I would be doing Ford’s PR, I would announce proudly that Ford has kicked Renault off the podium, which is quite a feat in itself. Doing so would stop nitpickers like myself from dismantling the smoke and mirrors, and I could spend my time praising Ford for the good job they have clearly done.

It’s most likely short-lived. The current jockeying is caused by scrappage programs. Ford is strong in the UK, a stronger UK makes for a stronger Ford. And once Volvo has departed to Geely, Ford Europe will have to live without the 1.5 percent market share Volvo still enjoyed in Europe in March.

Europe’s Largest Car Makers March 2010%ShareUnitsUnits% Chg+0.0+0.0+0.0+0.0+0.0ALL BRANDS1,676,4271,509,408+11.1VW Group19.820.2331,891304,670+8.9VOLKSWAGEN10.210.4171,604156,962+9.3AUDI4.34.272,41762,949+15.0SEAT2.12.235,45932,658+8.6SKODA3.13.452,13151,857+0.5Others (1)0.00.0280244+14.8PSA Group13.012.0218,552181,234+20.6PEUGEOT7.26.6120,455100,028+20.4CITROEN5.95.498,09781,206+20.8FORD Group11.811.0198,143165,597+19.7FORD10.29.6171,122144,857+18.1VOLVO1.61.427,02120,740+30.3RENAULT Group9.98.2165,239124,110+33.1RENAULT8.07.0134,227104,912+27.9DACIA1.81.331,01219,198+61.5FIAT Group8.09.1133,758137,372-2.6FIAT6.67.6109,942114,283-3.8LANCIA0.80.713,14411,123+18.2ALFA ROMEO0.60.79,82611,129-11.7Others (2)0.10.1846837+1.1GM Group8.89.3148,141140,974+5.1OPEL/VAUXHALL7.57.8125,199118,009+6.1CHEVROLET1.21.220,72118,263+13.5SAAB0.10.32,0494,521-54.7GM (US)0.00.0172181-5.0BMW Group5.04.984,04373,678+14.1BMW4.03.967,49659,219+14.0MINI1.01.016,54714,459+14.4TOYOTA Group4.25.471,11482,151-13.4TOYOTA4.15.368,56979,442-13.7LEXUS0.20.22,5452,709-6.1DAIMLER4.34.671,62169,161+3.6MERCEDES3.74.062,01159,663+3.9SMART0.60.69,6109,498+1.2NISSAN2.62.043,42830,594+41.9HYUNDAI2.82.546,62037,367+24.8KIA1.91.731,64525,348+24.8HONDA1.82.329,99435,075-14.5SUZUKI1.42.024,27029,472-17.7MAZDA1.71.829,11527,467+6.0JAGUAR LAND ROVER Group1.00.816,91012,420+36.2LAND ROVER0.80.612,9018,409+53.4JAGUAR0.20.34,0094,011-0.0MITSUBISHI0.60.810,24311,563-11.4CHRYSLER0.30.45,1035,855-12.8OTHER1.01.016,59715,300+8.5EU27 + EFTA

For your data slicing and dicing, facts and figures can be downloaded as PDF here, and as Excel spreadsheet here.

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2 of 14 comments
  • Telegraph Road Telegraph Road on Apr 16, 2010

    The Detroit News link covers all the relevant information. Thanks for the link, Bertel.

  • Telegraph Road Telegraph Road on Apr 17, 2010

    Ingvar Sviggum, vice president of marketing, sales and service for Ford of Europe, said: "Attaining the No.1 position in the European market for March and being No.2 year-to-date -- despite the continuing aggressive discounting we have seen from some competitors -- is a great testament to the hard work of the Ford team and especially our dealers across Europe who have done an outstanding job in supporting and satisfying their customers." Did you expect him to say, "Being No. 1 is due to the expiring UK scrappage programs, and we expect to fall back to No. 3 in April"?

  • Azfelix From certain angles the bonnet appears oversized with respect to the rest of the car - like a skinny teenager wearing a bulky sweater nicked from her older sister's wardrobe.
  • Tassos This is way too god damned OLD, 21 years old to have all the necessary options you need TODAY. You need a 10 year old or less car. AND if you give us THIS POS, a 21 year old model, that is not even a LUXURY car, whoever pays $10k for a Golf, And I Do NOT care what anniversary it is (they are all UTTERLY INSIGNIFICANT) deserves to get this MOST UNRELIABLE AND COSTLY TO REPAIR OF ALL LOUSY ECONOBOXES< EVEN THE DOMESTICS AND THE KOREANS.
  • Tassos As you say, Toyota confirmed this on TUESDAY. Today is WEDNESDAY. Why is everything on TTAC held back one or more days before you tell us the NEWS when it is NO MORE THE NEWS?
  • MRF 95 T-Bird You can find a decent and far more stylish Audi TT or an S4 of a similar vintage for under $10k.
  • RHD "In all situations, the grip of the tires (225/40R18 front, 225/35R18 rear) brings with it road noise."Are the rear tires actually smaller than the fronts??!! Adding just a bit of sidewall would take care of the bumps and rough ride. I'm not a fan of BMWs, personally, but this is a very enjoyable car. There are times when driving a convertible is pure bliss, and with a bit of power it's fun as well. (And certainly a better drive than a gussied-up, overpriced German taxicab!)