European Car Sales Plunge 26 Percent In January Photo:
Tim O'Brien | Feb, 18 2009 | 0 Comments

European automotive industry research and statistics company, Jato Dynamics, today reported a 26 percent decline in European new car sales for January.

Every market is down, Iceland in free-fall with an 88.1 percent decline and Ireland not far behind, recording a 66.3 percent decline. Of the biggest markets, France has fared best with just a 7.9 percent decline. Germany recorded a 14.2 percent decline, the UK down 30.9 percent, then Italy with a 32.6 percent fall and Spain, a 41.6 percent sales collapse.

That’s not a market, that’s a train wreck.

Of the top ten brands, every car maker bar Audi is taking the mother of all hidings. (Audi is down, but doesn’t have its pants around its knees.)

Top spot is still held by VW, but with a whopping 19.2 percent fall in sales for January, falling from 129,231 units in 2008, to 104,430 January this year.

Ford is next with 90,434 sales and recording an 18.1 percent decline. Then comes Peugeot, down 23.9 percent to 68,016 sales; Opel/Vauxhall down 33.7 percent with 66,363 sales; followed by Fiat down 28.4 percent recording 65,435 sales.

Following, in descending order, is Renault in sixth spot, down 31.8 percent; then Citroen down 26 percent; Toyota down 28.7 percent; Audi in ninth spot but best performer by a country mile with a decline of just 5.5 percent; and Mercedes in tenth, with 41,773 sales and a 29.5 percent decline.

God alone knows how long car makers can sustain sales collapses of those magnitudes. You would have to think that Opel/Vauxhall, being part of GM’s global portfolio of brands, would have a very nervous eye on its balance sheets. (And Saab, not significantly bothering the scorers anywhere, particularly vulnerable.)


There is one inescapable outcome from these numbers: expect more closures, production slow-downs and model cancellations in the months ahead.

Looking at the numbers model by model, the dismal story continues with just two bright spots puncturing the gloom.

Volkswagen Golf retains number one spot, but with a fall of 22.8 percent in sales. Number two is the astonishing new Ford Fiesta, one of the few sunbeams on the card with an 11.4 percent increase in sales, up from 28,452 to 31,702 in January this year.

Next, in third place, comes the Peugeot 207 with a 30.1 percent decline, followed by Ford’s Focus in fourth place with a 34.4 percent decline.

From fifth place to tenth, in descending order are: Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, down 40.4 percent; VW Polo, down 19.2 percent; Fiat Panda, down 21.4 percent; then, in eighth place, the remarkable Audi A4/S4/RS4 with a 20.8 percent increase in sales. Ninth and tenth respectively are the Fiat Punto, down 43.2 percent and the Renault Clio, down 42.7 percent.

These results are the stuff of nightmares for car manufacturers and unsustainable for many. No risk, if these figures become the pattern for the next two quarters, there will be more expensive tax-payer funded bail-outs, or, the unthinkable, rationalisations and collapses.

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