It was expected that the Danish car market
would slip into reverse during the current year, and that is just what has happened over
the opening two months. Sales to February were 10.4% down on last year at 22,005 from
24,561 and the sector is on course for a full year total of 145,000, from 162,406 last

That the market is truly in decline is
reflected in the fact that virtually all players in the sector have seen sales down
against year ago results. A handful of exceptions – namely Volkswagen, Suzuki, Daewoo
and Mercedes in particular – have bucked the trend. The rate of decline may ease as
the year progresses, but it is certainly expected to continue for most of the year.

Volkswagen is going from strength to
strength, despite a savage cutback in sales of the Polo. Until recently the Polo was the
model to beat in the Small Sector of the market, but the likes of the Renault Clio and the
Peugeot 206 have dented the Polo’s image and Volkswagen have a job on their hands to keep
what is really still a very good car selling at reasonable levels until it is replaced in
2001. To make matters worse for the Polo, it will not only lose some sales to the Lupo,
but it will also have to contend with a new Fiat Punto, the Audi A2 and the new Opel Corsa
before the replacement Polo is ready to do battle.


Light CV sector surprises with its

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Sales of light CVs rose by 16.3% in
February to 2,244 from 1,929 and by 19.3% for the opening two months at 4,519 from 3,789.
This is something of a surprise to most observers of the sector because every forecast
that we have seen, our own included, says that sales will decline for the full year.
Instead of that, if the sector remains on its current course it will finish the year at an
all time high. But we really don’t expect that to happen and we expect sales to start to
decline as early as next month.

The PSA Group is beginning to mount a
serious challenge to the Toyota leadership position. Toyota still has 20.3% against the
16.4% for PSA, but in February the gap between the two was a mere 7 units and Toyota will
have to look to their laurels if they are not to lose the position that they have held for
the past two decades.

Also showing considerable strength in the
sector is the VW Group, but in their case it is a question of regaining ground that was
lost during 1998. However, the VW recovery is not that genuine because it has come about
because for some reason the Danish authorities judge the Sharan people carrier to be a
light commercial vehicle, whereas in all other European markets it is classed as a car.



Truck sales slipped by 3.8% in

Truck sales fell by 3.8% in February to 403
from 419, taking the year to date gain down to 4.2% at 887 from 851. The downturn was not
unexpected. The full year 1998 total of 5,806 was an all-time high for Denmark and that is
not expected to be repeated during the current year.


Bus sales falling sharply

The bus sector has gone into sharp decline,
down 42.7% after the first two months of 1999 at 71 from 124. Again this is in line with
expectations, following on from an all-time record of 800 sold in full year 1998. The
average market for buses in Denmark is just under 600 units, and 1999 looks like being an
average year at best.