New car sales slump in Europe
The slump in the new car market spread throughout Europe during the summer, culminating in a double-digit fall in registrations in August, figures published in Brussels showed.
Demand fell by 15.6 per cent last month following a 7.3 per cent dip in registrations in July, according to Acea, the European carmakers’ body.
The market in all 28 countries covered by Acea fell by 3.9 per cent over the first eight months of the year as the credit crunch and worsening economic prospects combined with soaring fuel prices to keep buyers out of the showrooms.
Dealers shifted a total of 805,839 cars in August compared with 955,318 in the same month last year. Sales in July totalled 1,258,701 units compared with 1,358,483 in July 2007.
January to August, sales totalled 10,411,416 units versus 10,830,820 in the first eight months of last year.
Acea, which publishes its figures every two months, said the July and August figures reflected the “general deterioration in consumer confidence and the effect to continuing high fuel prices”.
Among individual manufacturers, Jaguar produced one of the strongest sales performances on a year-to-date basis thanks to the effect of the well-received new XF saloon.
The company, now part of India’s Tata Motors group, grew its Europe-wide sales by 27.9 per cent to 28,427 units between January and August, but was down two per cent at 1,444 in August, the Acea figures showed.
Sister company Land Rover, hit by a general market shift against big 4x4s, sold 51,213 vehicles in the first eight months, a fall of 27.9 per cent. The picture was even worse in August when Land Rover slumped by 54.9 per cent to 2006.
Mini produced another strong performance for parent group BMW, gaining 11.7 per cent with sales of 102,588 over the year so far, but was 19.8 per cent down at 7,202 in August.
Volkswagen kept its place as European market leader over the first eight months with 20 per cent share, up marginally from 19.9 per cent last time, while unit sales declined by three per cent.
PSA Peugeot Citroen was second with a share of 12.8 per cent versus 13.1 per cent on six per cent lower unit sales.
Renault said its European market share rose by 0.7 points to nine per cent while unit sales fell by 8.4 per cent. The company last week set out a plan to cut 6,000 jobs through voluntary redundancies and maintained profitability targets of 4.5 per cent for 2008 and six per cent for 2009.
Renault’s Sandouville factory in western France will be hardest hit. It makes the top-end Laguna, whose sales have fallen short of expectations.
In July, France’s second biggest automotive group cut its target of 3.3 million vehicle sales in 2009 by 300,000 units.
Acea said car registrations fell overall in August in western Europe, with only Portugal showing growth. Ireland and Spain posted the sharpest falls while France saw the smallest decrease.
The UK new car market shrank by 18.6 per cent to 63,225 units in August and was 3.8 per cent down at 1,464,124 over the years so far.
Registrations were up 2.7 per cent in the new EU member states, reflecting growth in Poland of 9.1 per cent and the Czech Republic with 8.2 per cent while Hungary was down 4.9 per cent and Romania fell 3.5 per cent.
Vehicle parts manufacturer Valeo said on Monday said the market was ‘‘difficult’’ but that it plans to continue to invest around 5.5 per cent of its sales - which last year reached €9.68 billion euros - in research and development.
‘‘We are in a rotten market but you know that in difficult times, Valeo excels,’’ chief executive Thierry Morin told Reuters.