European auto sales fall 4%

EU autos May11.pngEU auto sales have been a two-speed market recently. Strong growth in Germany, France, Benelux and the Netherlands kept sales moving forward versus 2010 levels. But other key markets, including the UK, Spain and Italy have been weak.

April’s sales suggest that this period is ending. But, as the blog has feared, the new trend is one of growing weakness, not a more general recovery. Only Germany, up 3%, saw increased volumes versus 2010.

As the chart shows, the overall market (red line) was down 4%. At 1.1 million, they were the weakest April volumes for many years:

• Spain remained very weak, down 23%
• France was down 11%
• The UK was down 7%
• Italy was down 2% versus its poor 2010 level

Of course, May/June may see better volumes, before people head off on holiday. But it is still likely we are at the start of a new multi-year trend.

Europe’s ageing BabyBoomers, as we discuss in our new eBook Boom, Gloom and the New Normal, will probably need fewer new cars in future. Equally, their finances will be squeezed, as austerity programmes get underway in more and more countries.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. Paul is also an invited member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such as oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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