European Car Sales Modest Increase Too Much For VW.
“In the Western Europe sub-region, which accounts for 79% of European vehicle sales, growth will decelerate in 2018 to 3.7%”
Car sales in Western Europe rose a modest 2.5% in 2017, boosted by burgeoning SUVs, and despite the shunning of diesels and Britain’s pre-Brexit problems.
Sales in December dived 5.3% to just over 1 million, but that was mainly due to less selling days in the month than 2016’s.
But even this small increase for 2017 was too much for market leader Volkswagen. Its own brand VW sales fell 1.8% to 1.6 million, according to data from the European Car manufacturers Association, known by its French acronym ACEA. Overall Volkswagen sales also failed to keep up with the overall market with a 1.2% increase to 3.3 million. VW market share slipped to 23.2% from 23.5%.
Sales in Western Europe, which includes all the big markets like Germany, France, Britain, Spain and Italy, rose 2.5% to 14.3 million in 2017.
While Volkswagen, even with its brands like Audi, Porsche, Skoda and SEAT, couldn’t match the market pace, France’s PSA Group scored a spectacular win with a 26.6% gain to 1.8 million, but that looks a bit less impressive when you recall it bought GM’s Opel and Vauxhall this year.
Ford, which said Tuesday in Detroit it has no intention of emulating GM and leaving Europe, showed why some investors question its presence as it sales fell 1.8% to 950,000 and its market share slipped to 6.6% from 6.9%.
In Britain, sales fell nearly 6% to 2.5 million as buyers worried about Brexit and the economy, and diesels were also hit by doubts about the technology’s future.
Forecasts for 2018 range from investment bank Nord LB’s 4% gain, to just under 1% expected by LMC Automotive.
BMI Research, in a recent report, also expected a relatively healthy 2018.
“In the all-important Western Europe sub-region, which accounts for 79% of European vehicle sales, growth will decelerate in 2018 to 3.7%. However, we believe that the positive mix of benign inflation rates and rising employment in major economies in Western Europe will continue to provide major support to growth in auto sales,” BMI Research said.
At the lower end of estimates with 0.8% growth expected for 2018, LMC agrees Britain will be a drag on the market. But fears that Britain’s exit from the European Union will end up in chaos seem to have relented a bit.
Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer from the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) at the University of Duisberg-Essen in Germany said new products will help demand in 2018, although falling diesel sales will be a problem.
CAR lists the likely notable new models in 2018, or order of appearance as the Jaguar E-Pace in January, Volvo XC 40 in March, Peugeot 508 (May), Mercedes A class (May), VW Touareg (July), Audi A6 (July), Ford Focus (September) and BMW 3 Series (October).
The first rivals to the Tesla Model S and Model X appear in 2018, with the long-range all-electric Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron.