Ford, Fiat and Toyota led a 9th consecutive monthly drop in European car sales as mass-market car manufacturers continued to suffer from the conclusion of various government backed car scrappage schemes.
In December registrations fell 26% compared with 2009 for Ford, while Fiat’s sales dropped 19% and Toyota’s fell 9%, in figures released by the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.
Total demand in the region fell 2.7% to 1.05 million units after governments last year ended scrappage subsidies put in place to aid the auto industry during the recession.
“The scrappage incentive schemes have now run their course and because of that the volume makers are going to find it relatively more difficult in 2011,” Jonathon Poskitt, an Oxford, England-based analyst with J.D. Power & Associates, said before the release. “The non-premium players will fare worse than the 2 percent decline we forecast for the full market including the premium makers in Europe.”
Full-year sales in the European Union plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland declined 4.9 % to 13.8 million units.
December registrations rose 6.9% in Germany, Europe’s biggest car market, helped by gains at premium manufacturers BMW and Volkswagen’s luxury brand Audi. Europe-wide sales by VW fell 1.3%, led by an 8.8% slide for VW-brand mass-market vehicles.
Registrations fell in all of Europe’s other top markets of France, Italy, Spain and the U.K. in December. French registrations decreased 0.7%, weighing on PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, whose sales in Europe fell 6.3%.
PSA said that it expects the region’s car market to stabilize in 2011. The company should benefit from the introductions of the Peugeot 508, the 3008 Hybrid4, the Citroen DS4 and later the DS5, it said in a statement.
France’s incentive program ended last month after being trimmed in July to 500 euros ($670) per traded-in car from 700 euros in the first half and 1,000 euros in 2009.
Ford started selling a new version of its C-MAX MPV and will offer an overhauled version of the Focus in the first quarter. The carmaker said yesterday it’s introducing “at least 20 new products and derivatives” in Europe in the next three years.
Ford Europe CEO Stephen Odell said the carmaker would refrain from trying to boost volume or market share through “widespread and excessive incentives” as that would hurt its business.
“The carmakers exposed to the western European mass market will experience increasing pricing pressure and higher raw material costs” in 2011, London-based Credit Suisse analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said in a phone interview Thursday. “It’ll be the second year in a row that European mass-market players are falling further behind the much more profitable and cash-generating premium makers.”