Car sales in Europe increased in June 2017, but by the smallest figure so far this year at +1,7% to 1,52 million. Compared to June 2015, it’s still a healthy growth of 8,2% in 2 years time. The year-to-date figure now stands at 8,37 million sales, an increase of 4,1% on the first half of 2016. This means that in the first half of 2017, we’ve seen only one month of decline, countered by one month of double digit growth, and four months of single digit growth. Of the five largest markets, Italy (+12,9%) and Spain (+6,5%) outperformed, France (+1,6%) showed average growth, but the UK (-4,8%) and Germany (-3,5%) lost volume. New EU member states (+12%) contributed greatly to the overall growth, led by Romania (+47%), Lithuania (+40,6%) and Estonia (+33,7%). Contrastingly to its neighbors, Latvia showed the largest decline at -17,8%. In the first half of 2017, Italy (+8,9%) and Spain (+7,1%) outperformed the market, Germany (+3,1%) and France (+3,0%) also improved, but the UK is into the red with a decline of 1,3%. New member states improved 15,2% vs. an increase of 3,8% for the pre-2004 members. Biggest gainers are Romania at +27% and Croatia at +23,6%, while Ireland (-10%) is the fastest declining market, with only Finland (-1,6%), Latvia (-1%) and the UK as the other shrinking markets.
In terms of manufacturer volume gains, FCA Fiat-Chrysler is the big winner in June, ahead of Toyota Motor and Volkswagen Group, while BMW Group, PSA and Ford Motor are the three biggest volume losers. In terms of relative growth, General Motors (now freed from the burden called Opel/Vauxhall) more than doubles deliveries of its US models, while Tesla Motors and Aston Martin also deliver nice growth on their newly launched models Model X and DB11. On the other end of the scales, Honda continues to bleed in Europe and risks becoming irrelevant if it doesn’t pay more attention to customer’s needs. Speaking of irrelevant brands, Mahindra & Mahindra enjoyed nice growth in recent years on the revival of SsangYong, but the honeymoon is over and the brand appears to have hit the full potential of its current line-up. In South-Korea, there’s already a new generation Rexton, let’s hope this makes it to Europe soon to help the brand continue its growth curve. Like Honda, Subaru treats Europe as an afterthought and also shows double digit declines.
In the first half, Renault-Nissan adds the most sales of all manufacturers like it did in 2016, but FCA and Toyota are catching up quickly, while the Japanese manufacturers Honda, Mazda and Subaru are the only three manufacturers to lose more than 1.000 sales. The only other loser is PSA at -322 sales. In terms of relative growth, Tesla and Aston Martin almost double up and in fact Aston has already sold more cars in 2017 than it did in all of 2016. General Motors is also among the big winners, again thanks to its US sports and luxury cars, of which only a few hundred a month are sold in Europe.
Volkswagen Group remains the largest manufacturer in Europe, but there’s a battle for the #2 position between PSA (including Opel/Vauxhall) and Renault-Nissan (including Mitsubishi), with the former stagnating as the latter reduces the gap by 1/3. In June, Renault-Nissan came within 1.200 sales of PSA. FCA has leapfrogged Ford Motor to claim 4th place, while Daimler closes in on its rival BMW Group, cutting a 48.500 unit gap last year down to just over 18.000 sales. Hyundai-Kia stagnated in June and grows as fast as the overall market in the first half, but it has a comfortable gap to Toyota Motor, which is the fastest growing manufacturer in the top-10. Geely and Tata Motors, both owners of European luxury brands, outgrow the market, but Suzuki does even better and outsells Mazda to become the #2 Japanese manufacturer in Europe. If it maintains this position during the second half, which I’m sure it will, the small(-car) manufacturer will reclaim the place it already held between 2005 and 2013.
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