BMW and Daimler dropped behind Toyota in European sales last year for the first time in history, as Toyota and its Lexus luxury brand moved ahead of them, according to the latest data from ACEA, the automakers’ trade group.
Overall, dealers delivered 14.5 million units in total, down 2% from the previous weak year in a market propped up by massive national government subsidies for junking old cars and/or buying new fuel-efficient ones.
Still, government subsidies didn’t slow the changing of the automotive guard on the continent as Asian makers — once again — picked up share at the expense of local ones.
Nissan, Hyundai and Kia all also gained ground, but their sales remain at roughly half the levels of Mercedes. However, if you combine Hyundai and Kia into the group they should be, their combined sales are now less than 100,000 units, and closing, behind number nine Daimler, whose sales dropped 13%
If you look at the box score that follows, clearly leading in first place is the profitable Volkswagen Group, with more than 20% of the market – about where General Motors is in its U.S. home market.
In Europe, General Motors suffered from its well-publicized bankruptcy, problems at Saab and Opel/Vauxhall, as group sales for all brands dropped more than 9%. GM’s share settled at 9% for fifth place, with it losing almost 2 percentage points in share.
Number two in Europe remained the PSA Group, with 1.9 million vehicles registered.
Third was the Ford Group, although the pending sale of Volvo to Chinese Geely and the removal of more than 200,000 units from its tally will drop them to fourth or fifth next year if current sales trends hold.
In fourth was Renault and its Dacia subsidiary. Fifth, as stated, was GM.
Since massive taxpayer handouts in Europe have now expired, the outlook is grim given the moribund European economy. Automakers are predicting a decline in sales this year of as many as 2 million units a disaster there, but it would still put Europe millions of units ahead of the depressed U.S. market, which looks to be about 11 million units, according to current analyst predictions.
Such dire predictions, widely touted during the press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week are — of course — attempts to force yet more subsidies from governments, as well as to downplay investor expectations for the earnings performance – or likely the lack thereof – of publicly traded stock.
Chart by automaker follows.