The European car market has been in a bit of rollercoaster in the summer of 2019, with sales down 7,8% in June, then up 2,6% in July before ddropping 13,1% in August. Expect a double digit gain again in September as the market suffered a severe 23% drop in that month last year as a result of the WLTP fuel efficiency standards kicking in. Still, the market is down 3,9% for 2019 so far, and September alone isn’t going to bring that back into positive territory. While in July SUVs and crossovers were the only type of vehicles to improve their sales, in August logically all types were in the red, with MPVs once again the biggest losers an falling at more than double the rate of the overall market. In July and August, electrified vehicles continued to gain market share, more specifically EVs, as PHEV sales took a nosedive due to WLTP regulations. Electric car sales grew by 90% in July and by 69% in August, while PHEV sales were down 19% in July and down 29% in August. The marker share of electrified vehicles grew to a record 3,3% in August with battery electric cars taking a 2,2% share of the overall European passenger car market.
After looking at the June and first half 2019 brands ranking for Europe, lets zoom in on the models ranking. Eternal best seller Volkswagen Golf is due fora redesign and loses volume for the 10th consecutive month. In fact, the Renault Clio has never been closer to taking the #1 spot in Europe, with a gap of just 1.500 sales between Europe’s two best selling cars. And the Clio is right in the middle of a changeover to the new generation, with June sales still mostly representing the outgoing model as well as the first demo registrations of the fifth generation Clio. To complete the good news for Renault in the ranking, the Captur jumps to equal its highest position ever in third place, making the podium exactly the same as the only other time this happened, in December 2017. [Read more…]
After a few relatively stable months in April and May, with sales up 1,4% and down 1,3% respectively, European new car sales were down by 7,8% in June 2019, to 1,48 million sales. For the first half of the year, sales are down 3,6% to 8,3 million units. According to ACEA, the surprisingly heavy decline in June can be attributed to a negative calendar effect. On average, June only counted 19 working days across the EU in 2019, compared to roughly 21 days the year before. As a result, the five major EU markets all posted declines, especially France (-8,4%) and Spain (-8,3%), whereas the UK (-4.9%), Germany (-4,7%) and Italy (-2,1%) performed better than the overall market. Just five out of the 30 countries of the EU and EFTA showed growth in March, with the fastest growing markets Lithuania (+41,1%), Romania (+15%) and Ireland (+12,7%), while Greece (+4,5%) and Cyprus (+0,9%) are the remaining countries in the plus. Biggest losing markets in June were Sweden (-52%) and Iceland (-47,7%), the former influenced by an artificially high month of June in 2018 which pulled forward registrations in anticipation of a new tax system in July of last year. In the first half each of the big EU markets recorded a slight decline with the exception of Germany (+0,5%).
From early 2020, Europeans will no longer be able to officially buy new Infiniti cars. The brand started in 2008 but hasn’t managed to gain a foothold in the European luxury car market, even after launching a pair of new cars that were specifically designed for this market. During a time of cost savings, Infiniti’s parent company Nissan has decided to give up trying to be an alternative to the German brands and Lexus, and to focus on markets where it has been successful, the US and China.
What went wrong for Infiniti? I think there are three factors that made this venture troublesome from the get-go, and one more trigger that caused the plug to be pulled this year. [Read more…]
The stagnation of the Chinese car market has continued in the second quarter of 2019, with double digit declines in April and May, and an 8,3% loss in June, which market the 12th consecutive month of declines. In the first half of the year, just under 10 million new passenger cars were delivered to Chinese dealers, nearly 15% fewer than in the same period last year. These figures exclude commercial vehicles, minivans and imported cars. In the short term, the Beijing government is not planning any incentives to prop up the market, and in fact is sharply reducing subsidies on one of the fastest growing segments of the Chinese car market: that of EVs and plug-in hybrids. Rather, the government seems to see this market contraction as an excellent opportunity to consolidate the market as (too) small players will be forced to close down or be taken over, while the larger state-owned carmakers also feel extra pressure to merge their operations and cut loss-making domestic brands. Also, China’s central government has pressured most major cities and provinces to adopt State 6 emissions rules (which are similar to the Euro 6 standards) on July 1. This caused local dealerships to offer steep discounts on vehicles that don’t meet these standards. The upside of this is that by now most dealerships have reduced their inventory so there’s hope that the second half of the year will be a whole new ballgame.
After a 7% decline in January and a 2,6% decline in February, European new car sales were down by 3,7% in March 2019, to 1,76 million sales. For the first quarter of the year, sales are down 4,4% to 4,07 million units. Most of the decline can still be attributed to the after effects of the introduction of new fuel efficiency and emissions testing standard called WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Test Procedure) in September. March sales figures are traditionally heavily influenced by the UK market, for which this is the highest volume month of the year by far. Fortunately, despite all the uncertainties facing this market, its decline was not as bad as generally expected. However, all major European markets were in the red in March, as Italy posted the highest percentage drop (-9,6%), followed by Spain (-4,3%), the United Kingdom (-3,4%), France (-2,3%) and Germany (-0,5%). Just nine out of the 30 countries of the EU and EFTA showed growth in March, with the fastest growing markets Lithuania (+43,8%), Denmark (+33,2%), Norway (+27,6%), and Romania (+20,8%). In the first quarter registrations remained almost flat in Germany (+0,2%), while the other key markets performed worse than in the first quarter of 2018, most notably Spain (-6,9%) and Italy (-6,5%).
After six months of double digit declines, the Chinese passenger car market slows its downfall with a 9,6% loss of sales in March 2019. That marks the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year losses, but nonetheless a modest bright spot for the world’s largest car market. In March, a total of 1,93 million domestically produced passenger cars were sold in China, which brings the Q1 total to 5,15 million sales, down 14,4% on Q1 of 2018. These figures exclude commercial vehicles, minivans and imported cars. In the short term, the Beijing government is not planning any incentives to prop up the market, and in fact is sharply reducing subsidies on one of the fastest growing segments of the Chinese car market: that of EVs and plug-in hybrids. Rather, the government seems to see this market contraction as an excellent opportunity to consolidate the market as (too) small players will be forced to close down or be taken over, while the larger state-owned carmakers also feel extra pressure to merge their operations and cut loss-making domestic brands.
After looking at the February 2019 brands ranking for Europe, lets zoom in on the models ranking. Eternal best seller Volkswagen Golf is one of the biggest losers in the top-10, just behind the Ford Fiesta as both lose by double digits. The Renault Clio is back into its #2 spot although the Volkswagen Polo is growing faster. Still, the Clio’s continued progress is impressive considering the new generation was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show early March and will be in showrooms later this year. The Citroen C3 takes a record fourth place, outselling its sibling Peugeot 208 for only the third time since the launch of the latter in early 2012. The only other two times the C3 was ahead were in August and December 2018, but it was never as high at 4th. The only crossovers in the top-10 are both from VW, with the Volkswagen Tiguan in 5th place and the Volkswagen T-Roc in 8th place. [Read more…]
After a 7% decline in January, European new car sales were down by 2,75% in February 2019, to 1,12 million sales. For the first two months of the year, sales are down 5% to 2,31 million units. Most of the decline can still be attributed to the after effects of the introduction of new fuel efficiency and emissions testing standard called WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Test Procedure) in September. Among the major markets, demand for new cars increased modestly in Germany (+2,7%), France (+2,1%) and the United Kingdom (+1,4%) last month. However, in Spain (-8,8%) and Italy (-2,4%) car registrations continued to decrease for the sixth consecutive month. Among the smaller European markets, Lithuania was the most dynamic with sales almost doubling (+94,5%), followed by Romania (+37,5%), Hungary (+12,6%), Greece (+10,6%) and Luxembourg (+10,4%). Fastest declining markets were Iceland (-30,9% to just 801 registrations), Cyprus (-17,7% to 891 registrations), Sweden (-14,9%) and Netherlands (-14,5%), with Finland (-11,3%) and Austria (-10,8%) also down by double digits.
Year-to-date, some markets saw a strong drop compared to last year, most notably Spain (-8,4%) and Italy (-4,9%), but new passenger car registrations remained more or less stable in Germany (+0,6%), France (+0,5%) and the United Kingdom (-0,6%).
The market for domestic passenger car sales in China continues its decline in 2019 with 8 consecutive months of declines from July 2018 to February 2019. With two months of double digit declines in January (-16,7%) and February (-17,6%), the market doesn’t seem able to recover soon. However, there’s a silver lining to this apparent malaise, as these numbers reflect wholesale data. Retail sales of new light vehicles dipped just 4% in January, which means the big drop in wholesale deliveries was a result of a reduction in dumping excess inventories by carmakers on their dealerships. [Read more…]