Tough Sales Month in Europe Leaves Only a Few Winners

By Igor Holas

02.29.2008

Automakers in Europe faced a tough month in January as sales declined slightly to 1.308 million.

Among the best selling brands, only a few managed to increase their sales from last year. Among them, Fiat and Volkswagen recorded the largest increases of about seven and six percent, respectively. The increased sales of Volkswagen helped solidify its position as the best selling brand in Europe, and helped VW Group solidify its top-spot as an automaker with almost 247,000 sales. The other largest automakers, PSA, Ford, GM, and Fiat all reported slight sales decreases, led by GM’s 8.1% decline.

Despite this grim month, one automaker has reason to celebrate: Nissan continues to ride its wave of increased sales, with a 50% increase from a year ago to almost 34,000 units. These additional sales propelled Nissan past most other Asian automakers like Mazda, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Suzuki, to the position of the number two Asian automaker in Europe behind Toyota. Nissan now also outsells Ford’s Volvo and Volkswagen’s Seat.

Renault’s still-new Dacia brand is also rapidly gaining sales, reporting a 73% increase from a year ago, surpassing Mitsubishi, Mini, Land Rover, and Alfa Romeo. Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo lost nearly half of its sales since a year ago, declining from 14,000 sales last January to only 8,000 sales last month. Lexus and Jaguar also posted significant declines in sales.

Eastern European sales continue to rise, but they still account for only a small portion of the market. The top five markets remain Italy, Germany, France, the UK, and Spain; combined, they account for about two-thirds of all sales. However, among them, only Germany recorded a sales increase. Sales in most other Western European countries stagnated or declined.

According to Automotive News, January sales are usually skewed as local governments usually use New Year to enact new taxation rules. A year ago, Germany reported an extraordinarily weak month of sales as many consumers bought car in December to avoid a hike in sales tax. Similarly, The Netherlands reported a 3.3% sales decline due to similar hike in sales tax, which also resulted in a “pull ahead” of potential sales into December instead of January.

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Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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2 Comments

  1. Ha, wait until you see sales results in the US in the next couple of months.

  2. Nothing unusual here as this time period is often a bad month for European sales. Now, if there is a bad 1st quarter, then there is some reason for alarm, because the European economy, unlike the US economy, is still in pretty good shape. The euro ended at 1.52 to the dollar yesterday which is quite a run-up.

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