Europe headed for biggest sales plunge in 19 years
A Ford dealership in Athens, Greece. Ford, like other manufacturers in Europe, is boosting sales results through self-registrations, in which dealers sell cars to themselves without having customer orders.
Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Bloomberg) -- European car deliveries headed for their biggest annual plunge in 19 years after the region's deliveries tumbled 11 percent in September.
Registrations last month dropped to 1.13 million vehicles from 1.27 million a year earlier, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, or ACEA, said today.
Nine-month sales fell 7.2 percent.
The market is now on track to decrease as much as 10 percent in 2012, the worst sales slump since the aftermath in 1993 of the region's currency crisis, the ACEA said.
Renault SA posted a European sales drop in September of 29 percent, while volume at Fiat SpA decreased 19 percent.
Four of Europe's five biggest automotive markets shrank last month, with German deliveries, which account for 25 percent of the region's total sales, dropping 11 percent.
An increase in so-called self-registrations by dealers, accounting for 33.5 percent of the market in September versus 28.7 percent a year earlier, prevented the German drop from being even steeper, according to Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
"The higher the self-registration numbers, the more difficult the market gets and the higher incentive spending becomes," Dudenhoeffer said today in a report. "The car market in Germany is getting tougher and shifting into a recession."
The ACEA compiles auto-sales figures from the 27 European Union countries plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.
The trade group on Oct. 12 predicted a 2012 market contraction of 8 percent to 10 percent, steeper than a 7 percent drop it projected earlier.
General Motors' group sales in Europe last month dropped 16 percent to 95,398 vehicles, led by a 20 percent drop for the Chevrolet marque.
GM's main Opel and Vauxhall brands in the region posted a 16 percent decline.
The Detroit-based carmaker has racked up $16.8 billion in losses in Europe since 1999.
The business posted a first-half loss before interest and taxes of $617 million, and wrote down $590 million of goodwill.
Opel has proposed closing a factory in Bochum, Germany, at the end of 2016 in the first shutdown of a car plant in the country since World War II.
European sales at Ford Motor Co. declined 15 percent to 92,603 cars.
The company's European pretax operating losses widened to $404 million in the second quarter from $149 million in the first quarter. The business earned profit of $176 million a year earlier.
Ford forecast on July 25 that its full-year European losses will exceed $1 billion, double an earlier forecast.
Roelant de Waard, vice president of marketing, sales and service at the Ford of Europe division, said last month that the carmaker has been among manufacturers in the region boosting sales figures through self-registrations, in which dealers sell cars to themselves without having customer orders.
Peugeot posted an 8.6 percent slide in sales in the region last month to 121,898 cars.
The Paris-based manufacturer has been burning through 200 million euros in cash a month as the auto market contracts, a figure that may fall by 50 percent in 2013, CEO Philippe Varin said in late September.
Registrations in Europe by market leader Volkswagen AG fell 8.4 percent last month to 269,953 vehicles as the main VW brand posted a 14 percent drop. Sales at the Audi luxury marque rose 1.3 percent.
Volkswagen is cutting back parts purchases by as much as 10 percent and demanding cheaper components in response to the weak market in the region, suppliers said last week.
Daimler AG, whose Mercedes-Benz ranks third in the luxury-vehicle industry after the BMW and Audi brands, reported a 6.6 percent slide in September European sales to 60,803 vehicles, with declines of 6.1 percent at Mercedes and 11 percent at the Smart two-seat car division.Contact Automotive News