The two-tier market for autos in Europe is worrying manufacturers.
As the chart shows, May’s sales (red square) were well down on the 2005-9 period, and only 7% above 2010’s very weak number.
They are a continuation of recent trends, where demand continues to be sustained by a few key countries:
• Germany, France and the Netherlands remain strong
• The UK, Italy and Spain remain weak
ACEA (European Auto Manufacturers Association) note that overall sales this year are 1% below 2010. Equally, only two months (February, May) have seen higher sales versus the previous year since March 2010.
May might be the start of a more positive trend. But it is more likely that consumers were simply buying forward ahead of price rises, as supply problems ex-Japan continued to grow.