Car sales in Europe in March were 0.9% up on last year at 1,757,483 from 1,741,127, according to provisional information released by Acea . Significantly, nine of the countries under revue failed to match or better year ago results, but it was Germany that had the biggest impact with sales falling by 10.4% to 385,000 from 429,896. However, it should be stressed that German figures are estimates and there can sometimes be quite a difference between the actual figures and the estimates. Nevertheless, German sales are now shown to be 8.2% down on last year at 892,496 from 972,497, a deficit of 80,0001 units. That has helped keep growth to date in Europe down to 3.8% at 4,242,308 from 4,088,592.

Western Europe Passenger Car Sales

ACEA
Estimates
3
months 2000
%
share
3
months 1999
%
share
%
change
volume
change
Country            
Germany
892496
21.0
972497
23.8
-8.2
-80001
Italy
771900
18.2
694270
17.0
11.2
77630
United Kingdom
771900
15.6
635942
15.6
3.9
24829
France
562201
13.3
520512
12.7
8.0
41689
Spain
363117
8.6
338752
8.3
7.2
24365
Netherlands
209312
4.9
204699
5.0
2.3
4613
Belgium
177718
4.2
157826
3.9
12.6
19892
Eire
104354
2.5
72321
1.8
44.3
32033
Austria
84843
2.0
83441
2.0
1.7
1402
Greece
83754
2.0
72605
1.8
15.4
11149
Switzerland
77495
1.8
73826
1.8
5.0
3669
Portugal
74045
1.7
77168
1.9
-4.0
-3123
Sweden
65630
1.5
65807
1.6

-0.3
-177
Finland
41629
1.0
37505
0.9
11.0
4124
Denmark
30099
0.7
39449
1.0
-23.7
-9350
Norway
26726
0.6
25293
0.6
5.7
1433
Luxembourg
12787
0.3
12897
0.3
-0.9
-110
Iceland
3431
0.1
3782

0.1
-9.3
-351
Totals
4242308
100.0
4088592
100.0
3.8
153716

The number of countries in deficit for the three months to March rose to six with Portugal and Luxembourg joining Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. All of these countries have been forecast by WAIT to decline for the full year, although the drop in Portugal was a bit sharper than expected. Austria and Spain were also down for the month of March itself and both of those are also forecast by WAIT to show a full year decline come the end of the year.

France is one of the major European markets where we do expect growth for the full year and sales in March were 2.3% up at 211,015 from 206,190, taking the YTD increase to 8.0% at 562,201 from 520,512. Our forecast for the year is for 4.7% growth overall, so the modest rise in March was not unexpected.

ACEA
Estimates
3
months 2000
%
share
3
months 1999
%
share
%
change
volume
change
Manufacturer
VW Group
763360
18.0
768699
18.8
-0.7
-5339
Volkswagen
459522

10.8
495336
12.1
-7.2
-35814
Audi
129951
3.1
124269

3.0
4.6
5682
Seat
120123
2.8
104104
2.5
15.4
16019
Skoda

53764
1.3
44990
1.1
19.5
8774
Renault -Nissan
561517
13.2
559306
13.7
0.4
2211
-Renault
448250
10.6
443612
10.8
1.0
4638
-Nissan
113267
2.7
115694
2.8
-2.1
-2427
PSA
Group
540834
12.7
484801
11.9
11.6
56033
Peugeot
323238
7.6
291856

7.1
10.8
31382
-Citroen
217596
5.1
192945
4.7
12.8
24651
Ford
Group
490251
11.6
530742
13.0
-7.6
-40491
-Ford
369591
8.7
394092
9.6
-6.2
-24501
Volvo
57187
1.3
66531
1.6
-14.0
-9344
Mazda
53431
1.3
65708
1.6
-18.7
-12277
Jaguar
10042
0.2
4411
0.1
127.7
5631
Fiat
Group
478442
11.3
430591
10.5
11.1
47851
-Fiat
365184
8.6
334506
8.2
9.2
30678
-Lancia
59317
1.4
42800
1.0
38.6

16517
-Alfa Romeo
52901
1.2
52605
1.3

0.6
296
-Others
1040
0.0
680
0.0
52.9
360
GM Group
461132
10.9
459008
11.2
0.5
2124
-Opel/Vaux/IBC
441102
10.4
436617
10.7
1.0
4485
-Saab
17541
0.4
19536
0.5
-10.2
-1995
-GM Others
2489
0.1
2855
0.1
-12.8
-366
DaimlerChrysler
224536
5.3
214438
5.2
4.7
10098
-Mercedes
200440

4.7
192900
4.7
3.9
7540
Chrysler

24096
0.6
21538
0.5
11.9
2558
Bmw
Group
218799
5.2
211199
5.2
3.6
7600b
-BMW
132829
3.1
128115
3.1
3.7
4714
Rover
85970
2.0
83084
2.0
3.5
2886
Toyota
156218
3.7
114701

2.8
36.2
41517
Honda
54098
1.3
59605
1.5
-9.2
-5507
Mitsubishi

51148
1.2
50804
1.2
0.7
344
Jap. Others
63214
1.5
71572
1.8
-11.7
-8358
Korean
154208
3.6
117847
2.9
30.9
36361
Others
24551
0.6
15279
0.4
60.7
9272
Totals
4242308
100.0
4088592
100.0

3.8

153716

 

The biggest winners to date are the PSA Group with sales up 11.6% YTD to 540,834 from 484,801. Sales for the duo in March were 8.3% up, well ahead of the sector average and market share has now lifted to 12.7% from 11.9%, ahead of the Ford Group who have now been pushed down to the fourth slot in Europe. PSA are obviously being helped by the situation in domestic France, but they are not just relying on that and have made useful gains across most of the European markets. Ford Group, on the other hand, only have Jaguar performing well, and they don’t contribute all that much in reality. Ford, Volvo and Mazda are all behind year to date, which is against part of the theory of these larger groups. It is always hoped that by adding extra legs to the corporate stool that when one member of the group slips, the others might help soften the blow, but no so with Ford.

 

The VW Group also saw sales drop YTD, by 0.7% to 763,360 from 68,699, but at least SEAT, Škoda and Audi all helped make the position better than it could have been. All of the other groups have at least one marque that is doing all right and even Rover are still ahead after three months, but the adverse publicity that they have suffered in the past few weeks did drive their March sales into a 1.1% deficit at 41,391 from 41,861. BMW themselves are selling more cars than ever and lifted YTD sales in Europe by 3.7% to 132,829 from 128,115. For the time being Rover still has to be shown as part of the BMW Group, but that is simply for a few weeks more and then it can be expected that Rover sales will dwindle away.

BMW may be listening to an alternative offer for the stricken Rover Group , but they have shown total ruthlessness in recent weeks and are unlikely to listen too hard. They just want to get shot of Rover as quickly as they can, despite having said not very long ago that Rover would be trading in the black by 2002.