April was another bad month for EU auto sales.
As the chart shows, based on ACEA data, sales were down 7% in April (red square) and down 8% versus 2011 (green line) in January - April.
The only bright spot remains Germany, were sales were up 2% in the Jan-Apr period. It is now 24% of total EU sales, up from 22% a year ago and 19% before the Crisis hit in 2008. Interestingly, though, last month's volume at 1.047m was just slightly lower than 2008's 1.053m - highlighting how the market has gone ex-growth over the period.
The German auto industry is also a major exporter, particularly to China. Worryingly, Bloomberg reports that market conditions there appear worse than shown by actual sales data. Su Hui, VP with China's Automobile Dealers Association noted that
"Unsold cars are crowding dealer lots in cities from Guangzhou in the south to Xi'an to the west. It's like a contagious disease that will spread."
Prices have already fallen each month this year. And automakers' inventories are at 16 month highs at 757k. This equals the size of the dealership inventories, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning agency.