With Europe Around Its Neck, The Mighty Volkswagen Slows Down

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
with europe around its neck the mighty volkswagen slows down

Yesterday, Volkswagen sent out a gushing report, saying that group deliveries rose 6 percent in April and 8.6 percent January to April. Something smells in Wolfsburg. Let’s take a look.

Europe, Volkswagen’s largest market by far, is beginning to be a big drag on the German juggernaut. In March, group sales in Europe were still up a bit. When the European manufacturers association ACEA reports its April data in the coming week, Volkswagen will have a big minus in front of its sales data.

Volkswagen’s press release hides this fact, it only cites a 1.6 percent gain for all of Europe in the first four months and gives no data for April. Usually, this type of selective reporting is a warning sign. However Volkswagen has reported that way for a while.

With a little digging in the archives and spreadsheet work, the following picture emerges. The blue numbers are calculated from archival data, the black numbers are as reported by Volkswagen AG.

4M’124M’11YoYApr ’12Apr ’11YoYTotal2,890,0002,660,0008.6%732,000690,8006.0%Europe1,250,0001,230,0001.6%313,000321,700-2.7%WEUR ex D661,400703,000-5.9%154,300171,100-9.8%EEUR205,100155,30032.1%57,70046,20024.9%China858,900741,20015.9%225,000192,70016.8%USA173,700131,50032.1%49,30038,70027.4%South Am296,900295,3000.5%67,50074,400-9.3%

April was a mixed month for Volkswagen, and the bad most likely will get worse. The times of double-digit growth rates seem to be over for a while. Volkswagen sales in Europe appear to be down by 2.7 percent in April, with Western Europe (ex Germany) down nearly 10 percent. South America also took a 9.3 percent hit. The negative numbers are offset by strong deliveries in China, up 16.8 percent and the U.S., up 27.4 percent in April. With nearly half of VW’s sales in Europe, it takes a lot of pumping in other markets to keep the ship from taking on water. Even if Volkswagen goes into minus territory, it will be far from sinking. Any hopes of becoming the number one automaker or even remaining in the number 2 position are quickly fading.

Now imagine how other European makers will perform that don’t have the global cushion Volkswagen has. Bad news for Opel, PSA, Fiat and Renault.

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4 of 8 comments
  • Herb Herb on May 12, 2012

    Western Europe certainly is and will be no growth market, given the debt-ridden infrastructure here. For wasting and wasted governments the standard means in such situations is to raise the taxes on those who can't run away, combined with introducing freely invented new fees on them or raising the existing ones. With an average unemployment figure of well above 10%, with an 50% unemployed rate among young people in Spain or Greece for example, Italy and France being only slightly better in this area, I would not expect any growth on the car sector in Western Europe in the near future. So, Volkswagen showing 1.6% growth in this shattered market may even "exceed analysts' expectations".

    • See 1 previous
    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on May 12, 2012

      @tparkit I agree we have some dire financial times ahead. Not only for America but for much of the industrial nations as well. It won't affect the 'haves' as much as it will affect the 'have-nots' but for all the cost of milk and bread, and everything else, will rise to levels never seen before. Not even during the Great Depression. We have already seen what the teetering US economy did to the rest of the industrial world during 2008/2009/2010 and it only re-affirms that when America's economy has a cold, the rest of the planet has pneumonia.

  • Forraymond Forraymond on May 12, 2012

    Isn't VW #2 or #3? Toyota and General Motors have mightier sales numbers, Europe or no Europe?

  • Lou_BC I kinda like the blocky lines. The snout has a star wars stormtrooper look so that means it won't hit anything.
  • ToolGuy I respect the work this individual has done from the starting point he was handed ("I have been involved for about 6 months repairing this car acquired form my sister who received it from our dad"; "The car was an oily mess when I received it, had a clogged catalytic converter, and hesitated intermittently on the highway after extended driving (> 20 miles)")...But there is no need to show prospective customers the "before" or "in process" photographs. Very few customers want to see or know how the sausage is made.And rather than show extreme close-ups of the dents, call a PDR shop, and bump up your selling price.
  • Ajla "launched as the GX550 offering a 3.4-liter" I know some people rip on pick up or performance car buyers for insecurity but it is funny that premium vehicle buyers need inflated designations like this because "GX340t" won't get their d*cks hard. Although Lexus isn't alone in this, it's even better here because they went from GX470 to GX460 back in 2009 and no one died over the decrease. The IS500 and LC500 are still matched to their displacement but maybe they'd sell more if it was called LC650? 🤔
  • ToolGuy Q: Is it time for ToolGuy the non-early adopter to purchase an EV for long-term ownership?A: No, it is not.(Get this stuff ironed out and I'll be back later.)
  • Theflyersfan Why take the effort to cover the back plate when the front plate is visible in a couple shots?