After rising 6,3% in October, European car sales are up again in November 2014, for the 15th straight month, although with 984.578 units the growth rate has slowed to just 0,27%, the lowest this year, bringing down the year-to-date growth to 5,6% at close to 12 million units, which means 2014 is likely to finish at around 12,9 to 13 million sales, up 5 to 5,5 percent on 2013. However, I expect 2015 to be another difficult year with modest to no growth at all. And the slow recovery means the European car market is still a long way from pre-recession figures of around 15 million per year.
But some brands are growing much faster than others, as Jeep has more than doubled its November sales (up 133%), thanks to the addition of the small crossover Renegade and the continued success of the Grand Cherokee and the still very fresh Cherokee midsized crossover. MG Nanjing, the most successful Chinese manufacturer to date, despite being only present in the UK, continues its strong performance at +126,7%. And the third fastest growing brand is the Italian luxury automaker Maserati, which is enjoying a record year thanks to the successful Ghibli large premium sedan and its optional diesel engines.
In absolute figures, Nissan has added the most sales in November, gaining 6.363 units thanks to the new generations Qashqai and X-Trail and the addition of the Pulsar compact hatchback. Volkswagen and Seat follow suit, also thanks to their compact models Golf and Leon.
Looking at automotive groups, the relative fastest groups are all Asian manufacturers that have taken over a struggling or bankrupt small brand: Nanjing MG which has taken over the failed MG brand, Mahindra&Mahindra of India, the new owners of the bankrupt South-Korean SUV maker SsangYong (+57,2%) and Malaysian autogroup DRB-Hicom, owner of both the Malaysian Proton brand, which has all but pulled out of the European market, and the English sports car maker Lotus, which is up 31,5% in November after a terrible month of October.
On the other hand of the scale are Tesla Motors, down more than half on November of 2013, when the American EV manufacturer enjoyed a very successful last couple of months thanks to the start of local assembly of its Model S luxury sedan and taking benefit of tax credits in its second largest market The Netherlands, which have been cut by January 2014. Also down are small players Aston Martin at -29,6% and AvtoVAZ (Lada) at -28,3%, both due to aging line-ups and a drought of new models.
Brands-wise, Chevrolet continues to sink deeper every month, losing more than 10.000 units and 97% of its sales as stocks dry up in ever more countries, dragging down General Motors with it, although Opel-Vauxhall also suffered a loss this month, down almost 3.500 units. Ford is down as well in November, for only the third time this year, and suffering its largest decrease at almost 5.000 units.
Year-to-date, the Volkswagen Group and Renault-Nissan continue to impress, adding 400.000 units to their combined sales, or two thirds of the growth of the overall market. Despite being down in November, PSA retakes its third place of in the ranking of absolute gains, as Ford is down even more.
The only other change since October is Maserati leapfrogging Tesla in the ranking of relative increases, as Tesla’s growth has slowed due to its loss in November.
Daihatsu, the Toyota-owned Japanese minicar maker that officially pulled out of the European market in 2013, sold another two cars in November, after selling only one in the previous five months, making it a total of ten year-to-date.
The Malaysian minicar maker Perodua, also partially owned by Toyota, failed to sell a single car in its only market, the UK, in October, but recovered with two sales in November, pushing its year-to-date tally to 29 units.
In November, a few brands have miraculously returned from their graves. Spyker, the recently bankrupted Dutch supercar maker that made headlines when it bought the Swedish Saab brand and its factories from General Motors a few years ago, has sold only its second car for the year and the first since last March.
And Lincoln, Ford Motor Company’s luxury brand that’s trying to make a comeback in the US and China, but has no official representation in Europe, sold its fifth car of the year and the first since September.
Brands that failed to sell a single car in November include supercar maker Bugatti, after selling an impressive 3 units in both September and October, the American brands Buick, GMC and Mercury (which has surprisingly sold five cars this year despite being killed by Ford Motor Company a few years ago). Also Saab, Maybach and Proton, although that shouldn’t be surprising.
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