European sales figures show growth while highlighting worrying trends
04 July 2017
Sales figures for June have been released around Europe, with many countries highlighting growth in both monthly and half year sales. However a worrying trend concerning self-registration is emerging in Spain and Italy.
In Germany, sales were down by 3.5% for June 2017, with the German automotive authority KBA suggesting this was due to one less business day compared to June 2016. However, deliveries in Europe's biggest vehicle market increased 3.1% to 1.787 million cars in the first six months of the year. Diesel sales fell by 9% in the month, possibly due to increased speculation concerning the potential banning of diesel vehicles entering the cities of Stuttgart and Munich. The industry association said it expected German domestic car production and exports to fall 2% each this year to 5.6 million and 4.3 million vehicles respectively.
German manufacturers are hopeful that a plan under discussion with the government to reduce pollution from older diesel-powered vehicles will avert planned bans in German cities that are deterring consumers from buying diesel cars. While modern diesels running under Euro 6 regulations are cleaner, many are put off by the negative press that previous iterations have been receiving. However, a plan to retrofit Euro 5 vehicles with software that will reduce emissions is being actioned in Bavaria, with hope that it will be rolled out nationwide, at a meeting between the government and automakers in August.
In France, registrations of new cars rose by 1.6% to almost 231,000 vehicles, with Daimler, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Ford recording the strongest sales figures. Industry association CCFA stated that when adjusted for the missing business day, sales would be up by 6.4%. First half 2017 figures increased 3% to 1.13 million registrations, adjusted to 3.8% based on an equal number of selling days. Following those results, the association has revised its annual sales prediction upward to 3-4%, compared to 2% earlier in the year.
Daimler sales increased 23%, including 32% for the Mercedes brand, although Smart sales fell by 24%. Toyota recorded a gain of 9.2% and FCA 6.8%, led by a rise of 18% for the Alfa Romeo brand. Ford sales rose 6.3% in the country.
The market in Belgium remained stable in June, compared with the same month in 2016. New vehicle registrations were just 0.5% down on the previous year, with just over 55,000 new cars sold. Automotive association FEBIAC reports that this brings the year-to-date figure to 322,000 cars for the first half of 2017, which is 4.1% up on the same period in 2016. Light commercial vehicles (LCVs) have seen high growth, with a 14% increase over the first six months compared to the previous year. The FEBIAC figures show that Volkswagen and Renault were the best performing brands in the country, with just 56 units between them.
In Italy, registrations rose 13% to 187,600 units during June, according to the industry body ANFIA. This was driven by a 33% jump in fleet sales and a 43% increase in sales to daily rental companies. Sales to private customers were down 3.1% however. As these sales are considered most profitable, the double digit growth cannot be seen as a complete success for the month.
In a statement, Filippo Pavan Bernacchi, president of the Italy’s Federauto dealer association, said: “The very positive June result is mainly due to the battle among carmakers to grab market share.” He added that this led to the big increase in self-registrations.
Market leader FCA increased sales 13% to 53,831 units. The Fiat brand’s registrations climbed 16% to 40,269 vehicles, helped by strong demand for the new Tipo compact and the Panda minicar.
The issue of self-registrations also seemed to benefit Spanish sales, which were up 6.5% in June to 131,800 units, according to ANFAC. It was the country’s best June result since 2007, however the industry association stated that it is ‘worried by the lack of growth in sales to private customers,’ which started in Q4 2016.
Registrations to private buyers rose 3.6% in June compared with a 23% rise in sales to fleet customers.
Another troubling trend is that registrations this year have been pushed, resulting in a total that is higher than actual market demand, Raul Morales, director of communication from dealer association FACONAUTO, said in a release.
‘Targets imposed by brands to dealers are way too high. The numbers are not there and, to fulfil their targets, dealer have had to resort to self-registrations,’ Morales said, adding that 25% of Spain’s June sales took place in the last two days of the month.
“Self-registrations are great for customers, who can get heavy discounts, but dangerous for dealers who have to shoulder a growing stock of unsold vehicles,” He adds. ‘The pressure on dealers was especially strong in June because it is the last month of the second quarter.’
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