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Europe’s Car Sales Will Accelerate After Sluggish 2011

Renault-Nissan Top Electric Seller By 2018

“Spain faces a long journey back to previous highs”

Car sales growth in Western Europe will be almost non-existent in 2011, but the market will move into a higher gear next year and slowly but steadily by 2015 return to levels achieved in 2008, before the great recession struck.

Small cars will gain greater market share, overcapacity will remain a problem, while Renault-Nissan will sell more electric cars than anyone else by 2018. Fiat will have the smallest share amongst Europe’s mass car makers.

Those are some of the conclusions of analysts from J.D.Power and Standard & Poors (S&P) at a one-day conference in London.

J.D.Power automotive analyst Jonathon Poskitt said Western Europe car sales will steadily improve from next year after a barely perceptible 0.2 per cent gain in 2011 and reach close to 15 million by 2015. Sales dived by almost three million between 2008 and 2009, spurted by almost two million between 2009 and 2010 spurred on by cash for clunkers schemes which ran out of steam last year. Poskitt predicted that European Union GDP growth would hit 2.1 per cent in 2001 and two per cent in 2012, while consumer spending growth would mirror this exactly.

S&P agreed that European sales growth would show no growth in 2011, although that hid substantial differences between gainers in Germany, and Scandinavia and losers in France, Britain, Italy and a double digit fall in Spain.

S&P said many European automakers had implemented recovery plans but wondered if overall they were any stronger today than before the great crash. Structural production overcapacity was typical in Europe, and S&P posed the question “How viable is the option to produce here and export to other countries”.

Fiat four per cent
S&P said by 2018 electric vehicles would account for almost 18 per cent of Renault Nissan sales, with Peugeot-Citroen second with close to 14 per cent. BMW would be third with just over 10 per cent ahead of Volkswagen’s eight per cent and Daimler’s just over six per cent. Only just under four per cent of Fiat’s vehicles would be electric.

J.D.Power’s Poskitt said by 2015, nearly half the West European market will be basic or small cars  (A and B segment) compared with 39 per cent in 2007, led by fuel efficiency legislation and high fuel prices.

“In terms of volumes, globally the automotive industry has effectively recovered from recession,” he said.

J.D.Power forecast 11 per cent growth in NAFTA this year, nine per cent in South America and three per cent in Asia-Pacific for a global total of 77.23 million, up seven per cent. By 2015 global sales would hit 103 million.

“Growth will continue to be driven by emerging markets over the next few years, with Europe a region of contrasting fortunes as Germany and Russia perform well while Spain faced a long journey back to previous highs,” Poskitt said.

Neil Winton – July 20, 2011

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