European new car sales continue to fall

European new car sales continue to fall

PM AUTOM:OTIVE BRIEFING E u r o p e a n n e w c a r s a l e s c o n t i n u e to f a l l give large percentage changes. Industry analysts, however,...

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PM

AUTOM:OTIVE

BRIEFING

E u r o p e a n n e w c a r s a l e s c o n t i n u e to f a l l give large percentage changes. Industry analysts, however, are more concerned with the continued weakness in Europe's premier markets. May registrations were down 27.8% in Italy, 22.6% in Spain, 20.4% in Germ a n y a n d 11.8% in F r a n c e c o m p a r e d to 1992. The only EC m e m b e r to r e p o r t an u p t u r n in s a l e s during May was the UK, where vehicle registrations were up 9.1% on the previous year. The slump in car sales is being reflected in declining vehicle manufacture in the EC. In Germany, for example, vehicle production was down 26% on 1992 figures during April. The GerEstimated ~ssenger car man automoreg~~ in M a ~ h and % bile trade ch~ from year earlier. association VDA r e p o r t s % change t h a t car proMay '93 from year duction for the earller month was d o w n 26% to Belgium/Luxembourg 31 950 -47.4 331 900 vehiBritain 133 000 +9.1 Denmark 7 970 -7.6 cles, while France 132 680 -11.8 light-truck outGermany 285 000 -20.4 put fell 27% to Greece 6 300 -58.6 13 000 trucks. Ireland 4 780 -30.1 The biggest Italy 166 290 -27.8 drop, however, Netherlands 34 800 -11.2 was in ,heavyPortugal 20 700 -11.4 truck producSpain 65 000 -22.6 tion which Total EC 888 470 -19.1 s l u m p e d 43% Austria 29 000 -5.1 to 7800 trucks Finland 4 600 -19.7 f r o m 13 638 Norway 5 000 -8.9 units. Sweden 10 900 -30.9 April's figSwitzerland 26 810 -4.4 ures are p a r t Total Western Europe 964 780 -18.5 of a continuing Source: European Automobile Manufacturers t r e n d for GerAssoc. many, with

FALLING new-car registrations t h r o u g h o u t Western E u r o p e during May have confirmed fears t h a t the industry is heading towards its stlarpest decline in nearly 20 years, says The Wall Street J o u r n a l Europe. Preliminary figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) show t h a t new car registrations in the European Community (EC) p l u m m e t t e d 19.1% during the m o n t h to 888 470 vehicles. Some of the s h a r p e s t falls occurred in smaller markets such as Greece, where relatively small sales differences

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European car production

production for the first four m o n t h s of this year down 25%, c o m p a r e d to 1992. The truck s e c t o r has faced t h e w o r s t d e c l i n e w i t h p r o d u c t i o n of l i g h t - t r u c k s d o w n 37% to 47 800 vehicles and of heavytrucks down 39% to 32 800. Car p r o d u c t i o n d u r i n g t h e same period has fallen 24% to 1 341 100 units. The reduced German production has been m a t c h e d by a drop in vehicle exports, which fell 25% on last year's figure during April. Individual m a n u f a c t u r e r s are h a v i n g to revise t h e i r forecasts in r e s p o n s e to the drop in E u r o p e a n demand. For example, Ford Motor Co has a b a n d o n e d its 1993 E u r o p e a n goal of breaking even. Ford lost money in Europe last year and after a f i r s t - q u a r t e r loss of $82 million it h a s r e s i g n e d itself for a r e p e a t in 1993.

Several vehicle manufacturers have r e s p o n d e d to the decline in the E u r o p e a n market by reorganizing their businesses, a fact p e r h a p s best i l l u s t r a t e d by G e r m a n carmaker Volkswagen. Volkswagen m a d e a loss of DM578m in January, forcing it to make extensive short-time working and make provisions for significant job cuts in its core VW car division. VW has cut 31 days of production in the first half of 1993. Volkswagen h a s a l s o r e v e a l e d its i n t e n t i o n to win a g r e a t e r section of the UK car market. Its aim is to boost the market s h a r e of its VW a n d Audi makes in the UK new vehicle market by 50% in the n e x t five years. The UK has traditionally been among Volkswagen's weakest European markets, p r o m p t i n g t h e c o m p a n y to buy VAG (UK), t h e British distributor of its vehicles, at the end of last year. Audi and VW r e p r e s e n t e d about 14.7% of n e w c a r s a l e s in W e s t e r n E u r o p e last year, b u t only 5.2% in the UIL The company has set a target of capturing 7.5% of UK new car sales by 1998. In a n o t h e r development, V o l k s w a g e n is c o n s i d e r i n g building an e x p e r i m e n t a l factory in n o r t h e r n Spain. Sources: Wall Street Journal Europe, Financial Times.

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