Europe always seemed like a safe haven for the sort of car lover who turns up their nose over North America’s obsession with the sport utility vehicle. That’s now changing, as European demand for SUVs and crossovers continued to grow in 2016. While it may have a penchance for slightly smaller models, the EU saw disproportionately high sales of compact crossovers last year.
In total, SUV sales accounted for 25 percent of all European passenger vehicle sales in 2016 — up from 21 percent the previous year. That doesn’t quite equal the United States’ fervent addiction but, if the European Union keeps this pace, it’ll be less than a decade before it closes the gap.
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The European automobile market may be pulling out of its six year sales slump, according to Automotive News, with new car registrations in Germany up 7% in January from last year, joined by France, Italy and Spain reporting year to year increases for the month. German new car sales for the month were 206,000, the third monthly gain out of the past four months and the best monthly percentage improvement since September 2011. Analysts caution, though, that the growth in the German market was in part due to discounting.
However, industry executives and analysts warned that underlying demand may not be robust as Germany’s growth was in part attributable to generous price discounts. Ernst-Robert Nouvertne, who operates two Volkswagen stores near Cologne, said “Incentives are the name of the game. Headline sales are looking good but profit per car is crumbling. The (German) market is still pretty strained.”
While new car and light truck October sales were up in France, Spain and Germany, giving hope that the European market has finally bottomed out, Italy’s car market is not showing any signs of recovery with car sales down 5.6% from a year ago. Fiat’s European chief, Alfredo Altavilla, remains pessimistic about that brand’s home market. “We are not seeing signs of a recovery in Italy, while in other markets we are seeing the glimmer of recovery where the market has touched bottom,” Altavilla told Reuters. “The real problem in Italy continues to be lack of consumer spending.”
In a sign that the European automobile market may finally be recovering, new car registrations in September were up 5.5% from the year before. Sales in the UK and an extra sales day in the month were factors but industry analysts say that things have finally bottomed out in Europe. Year to date sales were still down, -4% to 9.34 million cars, still on track to be the worst year in two decades.
After the longest European recession since the adoption of the euro currency ended with GDP growth in the second quarter of this year, demand has increased but when car sales were down in August, there was concern. With September sales up, industry watchers now think the August decline was just a blip.
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- ToolGuy The vehicle development process which gave the world the Neon was so amazing (according to the automotive press) that it prompted Rick Wagoner to hire Bob Lutz.Didn't work 🙂
- Lou_BC When my son was at the local Kia dealer they had a vehicle in for service. It was badly rusted. He refused to sign off on it as a tech. The owner being a grade A douchebag had the owner sign a release and let it go.
- ToolGuy Nice writeup.
- Jamie Electric cars and their planet stripping unsustainable mineral needs. Nothing is perfect.....
- Tom Kenney Wondering the same. It's getting late for 2024....I should scoop up a 2023 3.3t now.