VW, BMW, Daimler Report Record Sales. Opel Does Not

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
vw bmw daimler report record sales opel does not

Record new car sales are not the news one does expect from Europe. But those are the news from Germany.

One by one, German automakers – with the notable exception of Opel – are reporting unheard-of numbers. Let’s have a look.

Today, the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand reported its strongest first quarter in recorded history. 1.36 million units were delivered globally in the quarter, an increase of 10.5 percent compared to the 1.23 million sold in Q1 of 2011. March brought a new delivery record of 536,600 units, up 14.6 percent compared to March 2011.

This and strong Audi sales (up 14.1 percent in March and 10.8 percent for the quarter) point to record group level data that should be announced before the week ends.

With 185.728 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce sold, the BMW Group sold more vehicles in March than in any other month in its history, up 12 percent. The company also achieved a new high for the first three months: 425,528 units (prev. yr. 382,763 units), up11.2 percent compared with the first quarter of 2011.

Daimler had new sales records in every month of 2012. With 313,902 Mercedes-Benz passenger cars sold, the company set a new high for the first quarter. In March, sales rose by 11.0 percent to 131,334 units, recording the strongest sales month of the company’s history.

Opel is keeping its numbers under wraps, understandably, because they are depressing. In February, Opel’s sales in the EU27 were down nearly 14 percent. In March, Opel lost a painful 12.3 percent in a stable German market. (ACEA’s March data for Europe are not yet available.)

What do the other German makers have that Opel does not have? They have strong sales abroad. For all intents and purposes, Opel/Vauxhall have been kept out of markets in other continents. It now is unable to make up losses at home with gains abroad. To make matters worse for Opel, Chevrolet is becoming aggressive in Europe. Chevy’s gains however cannot make up for Opel’s losses, not by a long shot: In the first two months of the year, Chevrolet gained 5,534 sales in Europe, whereas Opel lost 28,906.

Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler try to hold their position in a Europe in turmoil. At the same time, they use the relatively low Euro to aggressively increase sales abroad. Audi’s sales in China, which reportedly is on the brink of disaster, increased 37 percent last month to 31,505 units.

There are too many car manufacturers and way too many car manufacturing plants in Europe. Unless governments intervene, only the fittest will survive. With an overflowing war chest, Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler definitely look much healthier than the rest. No wonder that they are dead set against government intervention.

PS: Funny number on the margin: According to ACEA data, GM exported 73 cars from the US to Europe in the first two months of 2012, down 36.5 percent from 115 in January-February 2011. In the same period, 464 imported GM cars were counted in Japan. Using the logic of the anti-closed markets brigade, it should be high time to start a trade war. With Brussels.

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4 of 9 comments
  • 406driver 406driver on Apr 11, 2012

    Vauxhall needs Opel to design and develop the cars as all they do today is minor tailoring for the UK market. Vauxhall's design centre was closed in the 1970s.

    • See 1 previous
    • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Apr 11, 2012

      @Tstag Please try to get an executive job at Opel/Vauxhall. That should put them out of their misery quick. Q1 UK sales of Vauxhall (rebadged Opels) were down 13.3 percent to 57,836. No car company can survive on that alone.

  • Akitadog Akitadog on Apr 11, 2012

    "What do the other German makers have that Opel does not have? They have strong sales abroad." In a sense, Opels ARE sold abroad, they just carry the Buick badge. The same way they carry the Vauxhall badge in the UK. So while the marque isn't doing well, the vehicles themselves are selling decently, at least in China and the US, the vehicles' biggest markets.

  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )
  • Thehyundaigarage Yes, Canadian market vehicles have had immobilizers mandated by transport Canada since around 2001.In the US market, some key start Toyotas and Nissans still don’t have immobilizers. The US doesn’t mandate immobilizers or daytime running lights, but they mandate TPMS, yet canada mandates both, but couldn’t care less about TPMS. You’d think we’d have universal standards in North America.
  • Alan I think this vehicle is aimed more at the dedicated offroad traveller. It costs around the same a 300 Series, so its quite an investment. It would be a waste to own as a daily driver, unless you want to be seen in a 'wank' vehicle like many Wrangler and Can Hardly Davidson types.The diesel would be the choice for off roading as its quite torquey down low and would return far superior mileage than a petrol vehicle.I would think this is more reliable than the Land Rovers, BMW make good engines. https://www.drive.com.au/reviews/2023-ineos-grenadier-review/
  • Lorenzo I'll go with Stellantis. Last into the folly, first to bail out. Their European business won't fly with the German market being squeezed on electricity. Anybody can see the loss of Russian natural gas and closing their nuclear plants means high cost electricity. They're now buying electrons from French nuclear plants, as are the British after shutting down their coal industry. As for the American market, the American grid isn't in great shape either, but the US has shale oil and natural gas. Stellantis has profits from ICE Ram trucks and Jeeps, and they won't give that up.
  • Inside Looking Out Chinese will take over EV market and Tesla will become the richest and largest car company in the world. Forget about Japanese.