The current European financial crisis seems to be having the harshest impact on the region’s carmakers, which are struggling to sell their new cars. Included in those hit hard were Renault, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Fiat, as all of the posted double-digit drops in new-car sales in February, compared to just a nine-percent slump in the total European volume.
As consumers tend to shy away from making costly purchases, there is a considerable drop in the number of registrations in the European Union and European Free Trade Association markets, experiencing a drop from 1,017,100 to 923,381 in February, the fifth straight month that car registration have declined, according to industry association ACEA. The drop was also the steepest monthly fall since a 16 percent fall in October 2010. Renault, including its Dacia brand, posted a 23.7% drop in new car sales to 86,402 vehicles.
PSA recorded a 16.5% slide in new car sales 118,381 units while the Fiat Group, including Alfa Romeo and Lancia brands, suffered a 16.5% stall to 66,249 vehicles. As the figures show, the outlook for industry sales in Europe looks bleak. According to Ford Motor Co., automakers face "extremely challenging business conditions" with customers worrying about the economy, making them shy away from showrooms.
Ford noted that industry sales are clearly well below 2011 levels, a reason that automakers should be very concerned about the market. There “a strong need for decisive actions to help bolster consumer confidence and improve demand," according to Roelant de Waar, Ford of Europe's marketing and sales.
Ford likewise is one of the victims of the current crisis, seeing its European sales drop 7.7% to 68,245 in February. GM’s Opel and Chevrolet units suffered different fates in February, with the former suffering a 19% fall and the latter benefiting from a 17.3% rise in sales.
However, Chevrolet’s gains failed to offset Opel’s losses, resulting to a 13.6 drop in GM’s overall sales performance in Europe for February. The sales drop at Volkswagen Group was not as severe as its rivals, as the company -- including VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat – posted just a 2.1% fall to 220,799 units.