In May, as in the months before, the EU new car market continued its partial resurrection. The 4.5 percent increase printed last month, however, was more a function of the abysmally low base during the Euro crisis in the prior year, and not Europeans stampeding back to their car dealers. The EU manufacturers’ association ACEA can’t help to note that “in absolute figures, the total of 1,093,448 units registered marked the second lowest result to date for a month of May since ACEA began the series in 2003 with the enlarged EU.” The way it looks, 2014 will end up in the annals as the second-worst year in recent car sales history.
Double digit increases are reported by last year’s bailed-out states, such as Greece, Romania, Portugal, and Spain. They had for all intents and purposes stopped buying cars a year ago, and are now crawling back. The percentage increases are deceiving. Large countries like Greece, or Romania, remain in the same league as tiny Luxemburg when it comes to buying cars.
Growth in the volume countries continues to be tepid. Economic powerhouse Germany reports a 5.2 percent increase in May, and is up a tiny 3.4 percent for the first 5 months of the year. France, up a marginal 0.3 percent last month, remains in the doldrums. Italy was down another 3.8 percent over an already very dismal May 2013.
Not all OEMs received their share of the moderately good fortunes. While Volkswagen Group was up 9.6 percent in May, GM Group was down 6.8 percent, Ford lost 2 percent, and Fiat 2.7. GM did not sell a single US-import in May.
Renault Group was up a respectable 18.8 percent in May, buoyed by a 25.1 percent increase in its budget brand Dacia. The low price segment continues to be hot all over Europe. Skoda was up 21.8 percent, Seat 23.0 percent. The other end of the range is a tough sell. BMW lost 2.2 percent in May, Daimler, up 3.1 percent, underperformed the market.