Renault, Fiat, Peugeot-Citroen, Opel-Vauxhall Struggle
VW Holds Steady
Most of Europe’s big name car manufacturers were fighting off red numbers in the first quarter as European buyers were spooked by economic worries; but not Jeep and Chevrolet.
GM Europe’s Opel and Vauxhall brands, flinching under the threat of plant closures and job losses, saw Western Europe sales dive 16.4 per cent to 260,000 in the first three months of 2012, while sales of its Chevrolet subsidiary jumped 7.4 per cent to 43,400, according to data from European Car Manufacturers Association, known by its French acronym ACEA.
Chevrolet’s big seller in Europe is the Korean-sourced little Spark.
Fiat of Italy, which has a majority stake in Chrysler, saw its sales slump 20.4 per cent to 209,000, but its Jeep brand managed to raise its sales by 53.3 per cent to just under 7,000. That might not sound much but many of those were high priced Jeep Grand Cherokees.
Renault of France was the worst performer among the big names with a fall of 23.5 per cent to 261,000. Its compatriot and GM alliance partner Peugeot-Citroen slid 17.4 per cent to 393,000. Ford of Europe’s minus 7.3 per cent performance to 269,000 looked almost impressive compared with the rest.
Meanwhile Volkswagen of Germany was holding steady, despite the dire outlook for the European economy and its ailing currency, the euro. VW, market leader with 23.4 per cent, saw its sales remain almost unchanged at 757,000, when you add all its brands like Audi, SEAT and Skoda.
Other notable performances came from the Koreans Hyundai and Kia, with the former up 12 per cent to 103,000 and Kia zooming almost 30 per cent to 72,000. India’s Land Rover raised its sales 41 per cent to 31,000.
Overall sales were down 8.1 per cent at 3.2 million, with March’s performance the worst for the month in 14 years. Most experts have been predicting a decline of up to six per cent for 2012 as a whole, and if this is close to the truth, perhaps the worst is over for Western Europe in the first quarter.
Neil Winton – April 20, 2012