By on June 18, 2013

The sagging EU economy led to the worst car sales since 20 years (cause and effect could also be the other way round.)  With so much riding on car sales, France’s La Lettre Auto K7 found a way to predict them with greater certainty: They simply ask car dealers how many orders they received. Most volume brands in Europe are built-to-order, and even in the worst economic climate, that takes a minimum of 4 weeks until the car is ready to be registered. That’s when usual statistics recognize the sale.


Reuters has received an advance copy of the new prediction. May data see an overall 3 percent fall in passenger car orders at the surveyed dealers. That’s not too bad,  unless when your brand is Opel or Dacia.  Says Reuters:


“Opel, the European division of General Motors, experienced a 32 percent decline at surveyed dealerships in May, with orders for its Adam mini falling short of expectations.


Renault’s orders grew 15 percent, helped by the new Captur compact SUV, but its no-frills Dacia brand tumbled 24 percent. Orders for Peugeot cars fell 2 percent while sister brand Citroen dropped 7 percent.”


This shines the spotlight on how car sales are generally counted in Europe. They are counted when cars are registered, and the data are published by the registering government entities, not by automakers. That should make for the most dependable data, would there not be a nasty phenomenon, which TTAC has mentioned a few times in the past. Dealers “buy” the car themselves, register it for one day, then sell it as “used” at a high discount.


According to Jesse Snyder in Automotive News, they sell it “usually to dealers in other countries, who then resold them as new. If a car is shipped from Italy to Austria to Slovakia to the Czech Republic, how many times is it reported as a new-car sale?”


Whether the second “sale” goes in the new or in the used column, at the very least, this practice skews reported car sales. It makes them look better than they actually are – at least for a while. Last year, sales looked benign in Europe, and especially in Germany, for a while. One of the reasons behind it were the one day registrations. Last September in Germany, approximately 30 percent of the “sales” were phantom sales.


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12 Comments on “New Statistics Predict New Doom For Opel – In France, At Least...”

  • avatar

    The Adam is an attractive little car. Priced right, could sell a ton here. Let’s hope the Celta/Classic substitute is at least inspired by its design.

    • 0 avatar

      I recently had an Adam as a rental car and enjoyed driving it very much. My model was fully-loaded, including a heated steering wheel and a sky-and-clouds patterned headliner that lit up at night with LED stars. Styling looks like a very precise copy of the Audi A1; mine was a cool kind of purpley-blue with a white roof and white wheels. Build quality was very good and the ride quite acceptable, although, like the Fiat 500, I found it pretty choppy on rougher roads. What surprised me was the rather poor gas mileage which would not seem acceptable in a car of this class. I don’t know if the 5-speed transmission is at fault but the engine seems to be serioulsy out of date compared to the offerings of competitors. I know that GM needs to save costs and putting older mechanicals into new vehicles might work from an accounting standpoint but for a customer with other choices in this niche it is not so compelling. Apparently newer direct-injection 1.0 litre and 1.4 litre turbo engines are planned for the Adam for next year. I think then the Adam would be a very attractive alternative.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later DOT com/watch?v=YTfWOhDGifY

  • avatar

    Seriously though, how does it make sense to lose X% on a new car by buying/registering it for one day just to be counted in a survey or census? Numbers matter so much that you spend thousands per unit on depreciation for them?

    • 0 avatar

      Make or exceed quota. Collect bonus payment.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t forget overhead expenses. In bad times, construction companies in particular will bid for business at a loss just to pay their employees to keep a team together and cover the rent/mortgage and other fixed payments, reducing reliance on a cash reserve or line of credit. The alternative is to go out of business. I imagine dealers have other means to break even, but the goal is to remain a going concern.

    • 0 avatar

      In the end, if you have ten Corsas in stock, and you register two of them and then sell them at a loss, you will (1) get a volume bonus from the manufacturer, and (2) likely get a better price for the remaining eight. And maybe the two get registered as service loaners or something similar.

      Happens on this continent, too.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place


      Yep…happens here in the US often. Ever looked at Nissan’s sales in the US?

      Kind of odd that they somehow have a stunning sales month every March? By far, their best sales month of the year…usually by a ridiculous number.

      You know…March…that time of the year when car sales just explode across the board for all OEMs. Yep..summer sales season for Nissan? End of year event? Nope…March.

      Oh yeah, March is also the end of Nissan’s fiscal year. But, hey…nothing weird going on here with Nissan.

      Nor will you read about it here.

  • avatar

    Better orders at the Paris Air Show…

  • avatar

    If the Fiat 500 can sell here the Adam could too…and its a fresher idea.
    And I thought Opel was dead?????
    Check out the link..This car kicks ass!,d.eWU

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Opel is doomed because of a drop in orders by 34 French dealer groups?

    Why not write about Honda?

    Are they doomed because their home market sales are off 42%(!), year to date.

    That seems a much bigger story than this.

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