After discussing European car sales in 2019 by manufacturer, let’s zoom in on sales at brand level. Volkswagen and Renault are the only brands to sell over a million cars in Europe, while Ford dips below that number. VW sets a new annual sales record in Europe at nearly 1.76 million deliveries, up 2.3% over 2018 and increasing its share to 11.2%. Peugeot improves 0.6% to close in on the #3 spot with just 23,000 sales between Ford and itself. Mercedes-Benz is the big winner in the brands top-7 at +3.3%, the second time ever above 900,000 sales and its highest annual sales in Europe ever. Its rival BMW is up just 0.9% but also sets a new annual sales record in Europe, while Opel/Vauxhall struggles after the PSA takeover as the French are culling models that are not (yet) based on their own platforms and still rely on GM technology. Opel/Vauxhall is down 8% to just over 800,000 sales, a record low for the brand. [Read more…]
Car sales in Europe were up 1.3% in 2019 to the highest annual volume since 2008, at 15.66 million sales. Sales were up in each of the last four quarters of the year, with an exceptional 22% gain in December. There are two reasons for this sudden surge in sales: first there is the depressed level at the end of 2018 due to the introduction of the new WLTP fuel economy and emissions standards by September 2018, and secondly manufacturers were rushing to register inefficient models in 2019 before the new average fleet emissions standards came into effect at January 2020. From this date, the average emission for each car sold in Europe by a manufacturer should be 95 g/km or lower, with potentially enormous fines if this standard is not met. Therefore, manufacturers were rushing to register unsold inefficient vehicles before this date. In January 2020, we’ll see that manufacturers with a relatively inefficient fleet will see a significantly reduced sales volume while we’ll also see a jump in sales for electric and plug-in hybrid models for which deliveries have been postponed until the new year (the Mercedes-Benz EQC is one of the most significant examples of this). The only caveat in this last prediction is that there was an enormous spike in EV deliveries in The Netherlands in December due to a tax increase on this type of vehicle as a company car by January 2020, but that effect might be neglectable considering The Netherlands is just a small part of the European market, and that EV deliveries here were prioritized over other markets which has created a delivery backlog that needs to be filled in the first quarter of 2020. Of the five major EU countries, Germany recorded the largest increase at +5%, followed by France at +1.9% and Italy at +0.3%. On the other hand, both Spain (-4.8%) and the UK (-2.4%) saw their car markets decline in 2019.
After looking at the 2019 Chinese car market including sales by brand, let’s look at the models ranking. China is one of the world’s most diverse markets, with 95 different brands (excluding the makers of cheap Low-Speed Electric Vehicles) selling nearly 600 models in 2019, of which 100 sold fewer than 1.000 units last year, and half sold fewer than 10.000 units, while only one model managed to sell over half a million cars in 2019. [Read more…]
The Chinese car market has declined every single month in 2019, which means it has continued its losing streak to 18 consecutive months. One little ray of hope is that December 2019 showed the lowest rate of declines of the streak at -0,9%, and all the double digit losses were limited to the first half of the year. A grand total of 21,07 million passenger cars were delivered to Chinese dealers in China in 2019, which is 9,5% lower than 2018 and 13,4% lower than the peak of 24,3 million in 2017. These figures exclude commercial vehicles, minivans and imported cars and reflect wholesale deliveries from the factory to the dealers. In the short term, the Beijing government is not planning any incentives to prop up the market, but it has ended its reduction of 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, which caused local dealerships to offer steep discounts on vehicles that didn’t meet these standards. This is one of the reasons why wholesales have reduced their decline in the second half.
In November 2019, car sales in Europe marked a third consecutive month of growth, preparing to finish the year with an increase if December is up by 3,7% or more. And considering December 2018 showed a WLTP-induced dip of 8,6%, that is very likely to happen. European consumers and businesses have taken delivery of 14,39 million cars in the first 11 months of 2019, a decrease of just a quarter of a percent. Of the five major EU countries, only the UK posted a sales decrease in November (-1,3%), while Germany (+9,7%), Spain (+2,3%), Italy (+2,2%) and France (+0,7%) showed strength. Year-to-date, the picture is less positive, (-5,7%) and the United Kingdom (-2,7%) in the red the most while Germany (+3,9%) is the only large market that recorded growth so far in 2019.
In October 2019, European car sales continue to recover from their WLTP induced dip last year, with a 9,6% increase in sales, after a 7,1% drop in October 2018. This brings the year-to-date tally almost back into the positive at -0,7%. Like last month, VW Group and Renault-Nissan are the big winners compared to last year, because they were also the big losers a year ago, being least prepared for the WLTP fuel efficiency and emissions testing procedure that kicked in at September 1st, 2018. Almost all EU countries posted increases in October, with the exception of Cyprus and the UK. Four of the five major EU markets showed strong improvements, with Germany (+12,7%), France (+8,7%), Italy (+6,7%) and Spain (+6,3%) in recovery mode, while deliveries in the UK were down 6.7% on Brexit-related uncertainties.
September 2019 is a strange month for European car sales, as September last year was the first month after the introduction of the new WLTP fuel economy (and emissions) testing procedure, for which not all manufacturers were equally well prepared. This meant that a number of engine/model configurations for some manufacturers which had not yet been tested under the new procedure would not be allowed to be sold in Europe after Septermber 1st. As a result, those cars were pre-registered in July and August 2018 even though they had not yet been sold to a consumer. This gave a boost to car sales in those months for manufacturers like Renault, Nissan, Volkswagen, Audi, Fiat and Alfa Romeo, which subsequently suffered in September and the following months. While some brands were much less affected, the overall European car market showed a similar trend, as you can see in the graph above. August 2018 was a relatively strong month (+26,5%), while August 2019 was much weaker (-7,5%), but in an upward trend, and September 2019 shows a double digit increase (+14,7%) compared to the shockingly weak September 2018 (-23,1%), but it’s still nearly 12% lower than September 2017. [Read more…]
After looking at the July and August 2019 brands ranking for Europe, lets zoom in on the models ranking. In July Volkswagen monopolizes the podium, with the Golf, Tiguan and Polo in the top-3 spots, a feat which only happened once before in modern history, in July 2018. The three VWs are followed by the Dacia Sandero which equals its European ranking record at #4, also hit in November 2018 and May 2019. The Renault Clio is the big loser in the top-10 due to the changeover to the new generation, while the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa makes it four subcompacts in a row. The Volkswagen T-Roc is in the top-10 for the second time ever, after last February, making it 4 VW models in the top-10. The Toyota Corolla impresses at #14, the highest ranking for the nameplate in at least 2 decades and almost knocking down the Yaris of its throne as the brand’s best seller in Europe, a title it held since 2000. [Read more…]
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 dropping 7,6% again 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 3,3% 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…]