EU Car Sales Reach 19-Year Low as Recession Hits Peugeot
European Union car sales fell to a 19-year low, with French companies PSA Peugeot Citroen (UG) and Renault SA and Italian competitor Fiat SpA (F) posting the biggest drops, as a recession in countries using the euro hurt demand.
Eleven-month registrations in the 27-nation EU fell 7.6 percent to 11.3 million vehicles, the lowest figure for the period since 1993, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said today in a statement. The decline was propelled by a 10 percent plunge in November.
The 17-country euro area went into a recession in the third quarter. The European Central Bank is predicting that all the nations will post economic growth only in 2014, the year that car-industry executives also forecast an initial recovery in Europe’s auto market. German carmakers’ regional market share in November rose at the expense of their French and Italian peers, with Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) beating Fiat for the month.
“There are clearly two worlds: on one side, the German carmakers and on the other, the Latin carmakers,” Florent Couvreur, a Paris-based analyst at CM-CIC Securities, said by phone. “The Latin carmakers are historically more exposed to southern European markets, which are plunging. This may go on next year.”
Including Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, European car sales in November fell 10 percent from a year earlier to 965,918 vehicles. Eleven-month sales declined 7.2 percent to 11.7 million cars. That’s the lowest figure for the region since 1994, Quynh-Nhu Huynh, the ACEA’s economics and statistics director, said in an e-mail.
The association has predicted a full-year market contraction to about 12 million cars, the fewest cars sold in Europe since 1995 and the sharpest decline since 1993.
There’s “little reason to believe that EU volumes will grow next year, which means that the spread between EU-focused and export-oriented original-equipment manufacturers will only continue to widen,” Erich Hauser, a London-based analyst at Credit Suisse, said today in an e-mail.
Fiat dropped as much as 6.4 percent to 3.46 euros, the steepest intraday decline since Nov. 7, and was trading down 2.6 percent at 12:09 p.m. in Milan. Renault (RNO) rose 0.2 percent to 40.29 euros in Paris, while Peugeot gained 1.5 percent to 5.28 euros, reversing a decline today of as much as 1.7 percent.
BMW, the world’s biggest manufacturer of luxury cars, increased European sales 0.4 percent in November to 67,200 vehicles, the only groupwide gain among the top seven auto sellers in the region, according to the ACEA. Its market share last month rose to 7 percent from 6.2 percent a year earlier.
Peugeot’s group sales in Europe fell 16 percent in November to 105,284 vehicles, reducing the Paris-based manufacturer’s market share to 10.9 percent from 11.7 percent. Renault’s European sales plunged 27 percent to 82,885 cars, accounting for 8.6 percent of the market versus 10.6 percent.
Fiat’s sales in Europe fell 13 percent last month to 59,152 cars, narrowing the Turin-based company’s market share to 6.1 percent from 6.3 percent.
Volkswagen AG (VOW), Europe’s biggest carmaker, posted a 2.5 percent decline in sales in the region last month to 248,690 vehicles, as demand dropped 4.5 percent at the namesake VW brand and 2.3 percent at the Audi luxury marque. The Wolfsburg, Germany-based group’s regional market share expanded to 25.7 percent from 23.7 percent.
Daimler AG (DAI)’s companywide European market share rose to 5.7 percent from 5.2 percent as its Mercedes-Benz luxury brand posted a 1.5 percent sales increase. The Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer’s registrations in Europe declined 0.7 percent because of an 18 percent plunge at the Smart two-seat car division.
“All the three German OEMs have new models in place,” such as Volkswagen’s Golf hatchback and Mercedes’s A- and B-Class compacts, said Jens Schattner, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. “This helps on top of the structural market shakings that these guys face.”
Four of Europe’s five biggest automotive markets shrank last month, with deliveries in Germany falling 3.5 percent. That countered a gain in October of 0.5 percent in the country, which accounts for 25 percent of the region’s auto sales.
Germany’s economy, the region’s biggest, may shrink this quarter, according to the IFO research institute, and its unemployment climbed for an eight consecutive month in November.
General Motors Co. (GM)’s group sales in Europe last month fell 13 percent to 75,876 vehicles, led by a 20 percent drop for the Chevrolet brand. Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co. (F)’s European sales fell 10 percent to 72,585 cars.
The two U.S. carmakers are planning to shut factories in Europe by 2016 in response to the market contraction. Fiat and Peugeot each announced within the past week that they’re eliminating 1,500 jobs.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mathieu Rosemain in Paris at email@example.com