By on August 2, 2012

German new car sales are no longer Teflon-coated.  New car sales in Deutschland were down 5 percent in July, Germany’s Kraftfahrtbundesamt reports.

Opel sales are down 18.6 percent, those of its alliance partner PSA are down 21.2 percent. Chevrolet sales are down 24.2 percent at a homeopathic level of 1,948 units. Chrysler is up 55.3 percent on 688 units. BMW sales are down 17.0 percent, while Audi sales are up 14.3 percent. Ford, down 4.4 percent, is in line with the market.  Volkswagen is down only 1.5 percent and could increase its market share to 23.6 percent.  Opel’s July market share is down to 6.8 percent.

Germany is Europe’s biggest car market. With the bad news from volume markets Italy (down 21.4 percent), Spain (down 17 percent) and France (down 7 percent), ACEA’s Europe report is expected to look awful.

 

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46 Comments on “Germany In July 2012: Down. Opel: Way Down...”


  • avatar
    mike978

    Bertel – a good, informative article. Here is some feedback – I have no problem with saying certain companies are doing badly, when they are indeed doing badly. But could we go just one day without a GM or Opel headline or an explict mention of them? Opel was indeed well down, but as you yourself say in the article PSA was down more and, surprising to me, BMW was done almost as much. So they could have been in the headline for a change, especially as BMW down in its home market would be more newsworthy than yet again Opel is down. Spice it up a little please. You could have just not said anything or said “Opel, PSA, BMW way down”. As you have said yourself trust the intelligence of your readers, they don`t need to be led in the headline.
    Also I agree Chevy sales are low but if Chevrolet sales are at “homeopathic” levels as stated then I hate to think what term you could have used for Chrysler, Subaru, Suzuki, Mitsubishi and Volvo.
    GM has what around 10-15% of the global market share, I would love to hear more about the manufacturers of the remaining 85-90% and I don`t mean car reviews. For example very little is heard about Honda (sales, corporate manoeuvrings), Mazda, Nissan and Ford who all sell in the millions.

    • 0 avatar

      Opel is, or shall I say was, an important and large German volume manufacturer. I am old enough to remember them as big as VW. When their sales and market share are way down while the company is losing billions and tens of thousands fear for their jobs, then it’s news.
      Especially on a day where slightly better than expected losses from Europe are communicated, it is our journalistic duty not to spike stories which people who don’t speak German might miss.

      As I said, we appreciate suggestions of what to write, but we do not appreciate suggestions of what to ignore.

      We write it or not, you read it or not. Simple division of labor.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Bertel – thanks for your reply. I never suggested the story be ignored and it is great for non-German readers to see how the largest EU market fares. My point was around the tone used. The data was clearly shown such that explicit comment was not necessary.
        I take your point about Opel having been very large and now diminishing.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        You don’t have to be that old, growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s it wasn’t uncommon to actually meet people that had brand loyalty to Opel, they might have got some jabs about the instant rust properties of opel, but buying a opel where regarded in the same way as buying a VW. That slowly changed to “an Opel, why?”, when the new Passat hit Europe – and the customers hit the service department at the dealers, forever establishing VW mechanics as the scum of the earth – it was like Opel sort of stopped competing all together.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Bringing Volvo into the same fold as Chevy when discussing sales is a bit of a stretch, Volvo sells premium cars, Chevy sells budget cars the thing to compare chevy sales against is probably Kia/Hundai. Volvo should probably be compared to something along the lines of Lexus.
      So while they sell comparable volume one should expect one to be low volume and the other to be high volume.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        MeaCulpa – I thought about the brands listed, hence why Lexus was not listed (which will sell less in the EU in one year than Chevy does in just Germany). I agree Volvo is a little higher than Chevy but Volvo is not Lexus. Volvo is Buick, Acura, Lincoln. Volvo is an upper mainstream player – the cheapest Volvo in the UK (volvocars.com/uk) is around GBP15K and quite a few models (especially the volume ones) start under GBP20K. Looking at Chevy’s UK site they do have the “cheap” Spark but the Cruze is GBP14K plus with the Orlando and Captiva also “volume” sellers such as they are starting at GBP16K plus so the price differential is not that great between the two brands.
        For comparison (on Lexus UK) the cheapest Lexus (the CT) is GBP24K and the IS is GBP26K.
        I note you mention just one out of 5 brands I listed, so I believe my point still holds.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        @mike978
        The cheapest Volvo in Germany is the 22k € C30
        The cheapest Chevy is the Spark at 9k, followed by the Aveo at 12, the Cruz at 15 and the orlando at 19, the captiva is at the same price point as the s40 (the second cheapest volvo).

        Not to offend but it’s quite obvious that you know very little about the European automotive market, your perception of brand position and pricepoint is somewhat of. People do cross shop lexus, audi and volvo, just the same as they cross shop chevys and kia, you can not determine cross shopping habits by comparing base model prices. You base your theory of brand who positioning on the US market, Buick, Acura and Lincoln doesn’t have a market presence in Europe and the value proposition they present makes absolutely no sense in the European marketplace.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        mea – I understand the European market from a UK perspective. Which could be different from a German perspective (which you seem to have, my assumption).
        Volvo is higher up and I am sure they are cross-shopped with Lexus sometimes. But Lexus is not held in the same esteem as the main German luxury brands (rightly or wrongly). Volvo’s main sellers will be the C30 and V/S40, not the S80 which will sell in sub homeopathic numbers. But for the sake of argument I will delete Volvo from my list of manufacturers selling Chevy or sub-Chevy numbers of cars. I could always ad Honda in. My point was still the same, that multiple well known brands do worse in Germany.

    • 0 avatar
      spw

      i am sorry to burst any bubbles here, but Volvo is spaceship brand compared to Chevy. Chevy in the Europe, is low cost Daewoo brand.

      How in the world can you compare it to Volvo?

      Chevrolet/Daewoo is literally positioned as low(est) cost brand, cheaper than everything else, with abysmal satisfaction ratings… a lot like Daewoo or Hyundai…. 10 years ago.

      If you think someone in Europe compares Volvo and Chevrolet trying to decide what car to buy then I dont know what to say. Do you also think E550 and Malibu are cross shopped?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I wouldn`t personally cross shop Chevy and Volvo but Volvo is hardly a “luxury” brand which would be an excuse for low sales (like Lexus hads but has a much higher transaction price).

        GM might be onto something with Chevy since low priced brands such as Skoda and Dacia are doing well. The European market seems to be polarising into cheap, low cost or high end premium.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Never mind Opel, how about Mitsubishi, Daihatsu and Fiat/Alfa Euro death watch? Or maybe put Peugeot on government bailout watch?

  • avatar
    JCraig

    Looks like Hyundai/Kia are doing surprisingly well. I always read about how loyal German buyers are to their brands.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Good point. The performance of Hyundai and Kia do belie the argument put forth by apologists for other non-European brands that Europeans do not like “foreign” automakers. Especially since Kia and Hyundai have been in the European market less time and started with a lower reputation than others.

    • 0 avatar
      W.Minter

      Hiring German designers probably helped both brands ;)
      And offering 5 years or 7 years warranty plus truly low prices didn’t harm sales as well.
      Sometimes, listening to your target group is not the worst thing you can do.
      Even better when you can afford to buy market share in Europe because you earn a lot of money in your home market due to almost closing it for foreign brands.

  • avatar
    th009

    It’s quite amazing, really: the top four by market share for July are VW, Audi, Mercedes and BMW (though the latter includes Mini). VW Group’s total share of the market is nearly 40%.

    GM (Opel + Chevrolet) is in total slightly behind Mini, and Ford, Renault and PSA are well back — and the latter two are behind Hyundai+Kia as well.

  • avatar
    Toucan

    WOW, when Audis new A6, A3 and facelifted A4 hit with full force, BMW lone fresh car bonanza ends up and they get completely trashed!

    Frienchies are dead in the water.

    Hyundai/Kia are not that bad as they swapped their entire line of terrible cars with new, stylish ones.

    And the relativity? Rock solid Germany down 5% and drown Spain “only” 17%? Either the crisis there is not as deep as media paint it or they are so low botton that there is no more abyss to fall into.

    • 0 avatar
      stephenjmcn

      Toucan, that’s what’s puzzling me – last month BMW’s mainstream range (1,3,5) is less than 2 years old or just released in the case of the 3. It won’t get better than that for a few years, and Merc have the new C coming soon.

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        All three offer top state of the art technology and qualities so it likely comes down to styling.

        Audi is completely out there, unreachable. Everything they make, especially with appereance packages, is just gorgeous. Merc is very good. No real flaws, especially when you see the cars in person.

        BMW? Well…

        5er is great. Low volume 7er is fine. Utterly low volume Z4 is stunning. But the rest?

        New 3er looks worse than its predecessor, too much like a face lifting and carries minor styling errors: hood raised too much, cut in the wrong place, headlights too low. 1er has too indifferent front and and the rear from VW Polo. X3 is, well, just not pretty, it has weird, not elegant front and headlights. X5 is just OK.

        And you get the results.

    • 0 avatar
      W.Minter

      BMWs best selling model (I suppose) – the new 3er Touring – is not available yet. 3 door 1er – no yet. 1er GT: 2014.
      But the awkward 1er is under attack: pre-orders of MB’s new A-Klasse are extremely high, Audi’s new A3 will sell in high numbers, the old one still sells in unbelievable numbers.
      New 7er gets a LCI right now, but the best selling luxury sedan in Germany is: the Panamera. Outsells MB S, A8, 7.

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        > BMWs best selling model (I suppose) – the new 3er Touring
        > – is not available yet.

        Good point.

        > 3 door 1er – no yet. 1er GT: 2014.

        Not high volume models, I think.

        > But the awkward 1er is under attack:

        Awkward – that’s the BMW’s problem. 1er, X1, X3, even the new 3er and new 6er are… awkward. 5 GT… VERY AWKWARD. Why not make them just beautiful like the E92 always was, for instance.

        E90, though, was also a bit messed up at the start and they fixed it not until the model refresh.

        > New 7er gets a LCI right now, but the best selling luxury
        > sedan in Germany is: the Panamera. Outsells MB S, A8, 7.

        Unbelievable but true. Just checked May 2012 numbers:
        Panamera – 404
        CLS – 379
        A8 – 376
        despite Panamera being 5000-10000 EUR more expensive than A8/7/S. On the other hand, that’s only some 7% more for
        – a fresh flagship (instead of a “default one”)
        – wonderful chassis
        – a right to proclaim you drive a Porsche which really means something.

        S got an excuse, it is before model change but the 7? BMW is underperforming seriously. And the Porsche were so ringht on their money, introducing the Panamera diesel!

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Hello Toucan and W. Winter,

        As a BMW owner (2 of them), I do believe that the new 3-series is in trouble not only in Germany, but here in the USA,—for exactly the reasons you listed, and by comparison to the Mercedes C-class. Mercedes is also discounting heavily, and plans to take the luxury championship back from BMW by year’s end.

        This is what I wrote to my local BMW dealer, for January-June sales of this year, taken from the GoodCar/BadCar website:

        “Some sales observations:
        1) The trend-lines show an overall declining slope for BMW, but slightly increasing ones for MB and Audi;
        2) BMW grew rapidly in sales for the first 3 months, to peak in March, but has been dropping since then;
        3) Audi, not a strong player in this category, continues its slow-growth pattern.

        Some possible reasons for BMW vs Mercedes trends, which may be complex and not due to any one factor:
        1) N20 turbo 4-cylinder by BMW may not be “seen” as “enough” for its sports sedan reputation, despite good fuel mileage;
        2) To get the N55 turbo 6-cylinder requires purchase of the 335i version, a price disadvantage vs 6-cylinder C-Class MB (C-350);
        3) Peculiar BMW 3-series styling may not be a “knock-out”, as it is for the new 6-series (already noted in previous emails);
        4) Aggressive price incentives by MB may be talking hold (about $3500 per vehicle vs about $2200 for BMW and Audi).

        I did furnish that dealer with plots of sales-per-month vs time, but I don’t know how to include plots as “.pdf” attachments in this comment section. Is that even possible? Does anyone have any idea on how to include actual graphic information here?

        ————

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Chevrolet outsold by smart. Obviously, GM needs to send all the extra crew cab dually Silverados over to Germany.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Looks like it is time for me to eat my words for suggesting that GM’s Chevrolet-soccer endorsement wasn’t worth spending hundreds of millions of dollars on. I didn’t realize we were talking about selling almost a couple thousand cars a month!

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      half ManU’s fanbase is in Asia.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/9298384/Manchester-United-survey-reveals-they-have-doubled-their-global-fan-base-to-659-million-over-five-years.html

      But, by all means, don’t let facts get in the way of your thought process.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      A couple of thousand per month in Germany. Last I checked Germany is not the EU.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “Germany is Europe’s biggest car market.” You should talk to sunridge place about employment opportunities so that you can be remunerated for your efforts.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        You can never acknowledge when someone else is right, you just switch lines of attack. The sponsorship of Man Utd isn`t just for the UK market or the German market so picking on volume from one market is not useful. I also find tedious your continued resort to saying anyone who says anything positive about GM (or Ford, or VW) are paid shills. If that is the case then I hope Honda pays you well.
        Especially when someone else pointed out Honda sponsor soccer teams. But then consistency has never been one of your strengths.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Almost no volume in the UK, negligible volume in Germany…after a while, it doesn’t add up. If you don’t think that’s a point, you’ve got bigger problems than inconsistency.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I didn`t say their sales were not small. They are low.
        However the point you initially raised was around the soccer sponsorship. I assume the aim of that deal (and really and advertising or marketing) is to increase sales. Since Man Utd has a global reach the deal should help them in Europe and Asia primarily.
        As for their lack of volume, the same can easily be said of multiple companies including your beloved Honda (and Subaru and Lexus) which in Germany and I believe EU wide has less sales than Chevy (YTD and yes they operate in slightly different price points of the market but both are mainstream manufacturers). Honda are doing advertising/marketing with similar institutions so why the complaint about Chevy and not Honda?
        I assume you would complain if GM launched a car brand and then left it to die with no new product or advertising?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        GM should know better than to launch new brands by now. They should learn something someday. You won’t though. Otherwise you’d have stopped asking ‘why is it different when it is GM?’ the thousandth time someone told you it was because of the bailout and all of the illegal actions that were involved. Honda marketing is as bad as their cars are good. They pay for it with their profits instead of my tax dollars though, so they can do whatever ridiculous thing they want. Earth Dreams is painful to swallow anyway, as I’ve mentioned in a number of posts.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        The bailout has been done, what they spend their money on now comes from their current revenues and not taxpayers unless the US Treasury is funneling money to them now – are they? So you are not paying for this marketing contract. And if you ever wanted to be fully “paid” back then you should want it to succeed in driving sales in new areas.
        I understand that GM is “dead” to you because of the bailout x years ago. Fine, you are entitled to that opinion. I assume you therefore don’t use Citbank, BoA or AIG either because they had taxpayer help.

        I have seen you make a couple of “negative” posts about Honda, including a recent one. Congratulations that is growth! Maybe this is where I should say something CJish about “don`t talk ill of your employer” with the clear insinuation that you are a shill. But then again I will leave that for you! Since in is a wrong insinuation for both of us.

  • avatar
    msquare

    What I’d like to see somewhere if not here is a rundown of how Opel got into this predicament. I’ve heard Jeremy Clarkson knock the Vectra time and again but it was a top seller continent-wide at the time. Their MPV’s appear to be very competitive and while it doesn’t wow you like a Focus, the Astra is nowhere near as repulsive as some of the Daewoo/Chevrolets are said to be.

    To the best of my knowledge, there’s no “Deadly Sin” you can point to. So what’s really going on here beyond the general malaise of the Euro market?

    • 0 avatar
      tom

      There are many factors. For one, it’s easy to destroy a reputation but very difficult to build one. Opel destroyed its reputation during the 1990s with a terrible lineup and it hasn’t recovered from it.

      Generally, management has been abysmal. GM simply doesn’t seem to understand the European market. And with all its tactics to save a buck here or there, they alienate their customers. Who wants to buy a product from a company that has bad press every day, because it breaks promises made to Unions, or because it may or may not close a production plant somewhere and workers are unsettled, or because it’s on the verge of liquidation, etc.

      The sad truth is that Opel is done for and everybody knows it. It’s sad because it really didn’t have to come to this, but GM simply has a talent for running businesses into the ground. Then again, at this point, Opel will hardly be missed other than by people who appreciate the history of the automobile industry and the big name Opel has been there…

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        The really sad truth is that GM is done for. It’s just going to take a little longer. Another tax-payer funded bailout, anyone? Anyone?

        —————

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        What killed Opel is what killed GM, Roger Smith’s $80 billion spending spree that only produced negative results that had to be undone at probably an equiv. cost. Before he took over (though always disfunctional) GM was the most most profitable, lowest cost producer (US wise), with one of the healthiest balance sheets in the world (not just car companies). When he left, GM’s profits were accomplished by accounting tricks and abusing the living daylights out of GMAC, they were the highest cost producer in the world, an order of magnitude more disfunctional than when he took over and had the weakest balance sheet of the big three (witness $30 billion charge for unfunded healthcare liabilities GM had to take during his last year (1989), Ford and Chryco had to take charges no where near that vicinity, GM had lobbied and fought for years and years not to have that law passed). The sloan system was set up so that no CEO would ever be CEO for more than 2-3 years and therefore any damage done could be quickly undone (ofcourse this blocked any real progress as well), but giving him 10 years and a board that just nodded when told to (except for Perot, another billion $ payout by GM to get rid of a percieved mistake). Of course the sloan system was also designed so that a production person would always be CEO and that EO would be headquartered in NYC so they would have a true pulse of the US market vs. being in the isolated world of detroit (The Finance coup of the 70’s undid all of this).

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Yes, the Saturn Vega, Saturn Chevette, and Saturn Corvair were all Roger Smith’s fault.

        Oh, wait a minute…

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    Back in the days of the mighty Opel Rekord, Opel was one of the biggest and most respected brands in Gemany. Then they spent the last 30 years making bland me-too cars of dubious quality. This while Volkswagen learned how to make affordable yet desirable cars. Audi and BMW moved upmarket while Opel was stuck as a mass market producer without a mass volume.

    The Opel brand lacks an identity. Maybe they make OK cars thses days, but why buy an Astra when you can have a Golf?

    Maybe Opel’s fate is part of the overall GM illness.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      You are right – why buy an Astra (308, Brava, Megane, Nissan even withdrew from compact cars and came up with the Qashqai CUV) when you can have a Golf or Focus. VW and Ford own the market in compact cars for on the one hand prestigous, refined cars (Golf) and on the other hand fun to drive cars (Focus).

  • avatar
    itsnotagsr

    Middle brands such as Ford and Opel have been crunched by BMW, Audi and Mercedes. They have successfully taken market share off traditional middle brand buyers who used to buy Vectras and Mondeos in Europe. Why buy a Ford/Opel when you can drive an entry level Benz or BM and try to impress your neighbours. Often their “German” car is built in Eastern Europe instead.

    This raises an interesting question. What do the middle brands (both European and Japanese) stand for? Their traditonal market is been captured by the Koreans, whilst their higher spec margin car buyers are being taken by the Germans…

    • 0 avatar
      tom

      You’re raising a point I’ve been making for years. The brands that try to offer middle of the road products are vanishing, nut just in the Auto industry, but everywhere. Our shopping habits have changed greatly over the last 50 years.

      Back in the 1960s, people wanted to be average, they wanted decent products at decent prices, just like everybody else. Today, we’re all individualists (or so we think). A product category (like cars) either captures our imagination or it doesn’t. If it does, we want something special, something that we think suits us, be it the small sports car, the huge truck, the luxury car, etc. And we’re willing to pay premium prices for it, because it’s something we identify with.
      However, if we don’t care for cars (or any other product category) then we don’t want to waste a single buck above the bare minimum, so that we have more left for the things we identify with. In that case, we want the car that can get us from A to B in the cheapest possible fashion.

      There simply isn’t much of a middle ground anymore, which is the problem of companies like GM or Ford, because that’s where they’re at home…

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Americans are still wiling to buy average, as long as its good average. As Mr Honda observed somewhat sadly, “We make boring cars”.

        Well, guess what? Boring sells, as long as it’s pleasant, reliable, economical, unoffensive, beige boring. But if you do boring badly, it won’t sell. Opel did boring badly.

        Take a look at Toyota and Honda sales for the first 6 months of this year. Good sales coupled with pleasantly anesthetized boring.

        ————–

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        itsnotagsr and tom – +1.
        NMGOM – what makes you think the US market will not go the same way as the EU market? Who would have predicted 10 years ago the rise of the sub-compact and compact car class, the increased use of turbo charged engines, the removal of V6’s from mid-size cars, the change from BoF to CUV’s etc.
        You might be right about the distinction between good boring and badly done boring. But why are good riving dynamics and style mutually exclusive from reliability and economy?

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        mike978,

        Indeed, you make a good point. The American market could do the European thing in automotive preferences…eventually. But historically we have always had a “make do” and “good is good enough” and “whatever works” and “no big deal” culture. By being laid back, we have been less discriminating, and less demanding in precision, quality, craftsmanship, excellence, and so on. As you suggest, we as a culture may not always stay this way.

        You asked: “But why are good (d)riving dynamics and style mutually exclusive from reliability and economy?”
        ANS: They aren’t, theoretically. But the problem is price. You can make the beige Camry with good economy and reliability as a FWD box that can’t corner to save itself, for $25K; or you can add a decent suspension, 50/50 weight distribution, and RWD to get all that PLUS handling too, – – and you arrive at a BMW 328i for $35K.

        EXAMPLE: You’ll note that when BMW tried to go downscale with the 1-series, they really did fail to meet initial price objectives that would have matched the Camry: the bloody 1-series still came out at about $30K!

        CONCL: Adding good driving dynamics gets expensive…more than many people realize. And that is what keeps all those after-market tuners in business! (^_^)..

        ———-

  • avatar
    msquare

    I think itsnotagsr may have hit the nail on the head. Opel and Ford have been squeezed a bit from above and below.

    But the same thing was happening to Mercedes and BMW 20 years ago when Lexus and Infiniti matched them on quality and amenities, beat them in reliability and undercut them severely on price. The Focus is a class leader, but Ford Europe just got hit with a loss last quarter.

    Is a Golf really that much better than an Astra? My guess is no, and the Astra is a sharper design in my opinion, especially in 3-door form. Golfs and Jettas have been criticized for mediocrity themselves. if I can get a 1-series BMW for nearly the same money as a Golf, Jetta or an Astra, what’s the point of any of them?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      +1, all mainstream cars (except the Golf for now) are being squeezed by the Koreans on one hand (and other cheap brands like Dacia) and the move downwards for BMW (1 series, i-Series) and Audi (A1). This move downwards killed off the Ford Granada and Opel Omega over a decade ago because people could for the same money buy a BMW (albeit a smaller 3 series).

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