August European Auto Sales Down; Peugeot Loses Ground image

Auto sales in Europe dropped 4.9% in August, with PSA Peugeot Citroen losing more ground to its rivals.

New vehicle registrations slid to 686,957 vehicles in August, as sales continued to drop in Germany, France and Italy. The decline in Europe for the January-August period reached 5.2%.

“Downturn prevailed across significant markets,” said the Association of European Carmakers in a statement, with the UK alone posting strong growth of 10 percent.

Industry executives and automotive forecasters still hope the auto industry in Europe will stabilize in the fourth quarter, although analysts predict that 2013 will be the sixth year of declines reaching a two-decade low.

Peugeot fell the most among all major automakers in August, with a drop of 18%, while Fiat fell 4.9%, VW dropped 11%, but VW’s German luxury peers saw sales increase. BMW was up 9.9% and Daimler increased 0.5%, thanks to Mercedes-Benz sales which jumped 8.5% last month and 5.5% so far this year.

Although Audi is the weakest performer among the three German luxury brands, its market share still increased in the January-August period. Audi registrations in August dropped 6.4%. Renault saw an increase of 5.8% last month and 2.2% during the first eight months of the year, thanks to its Dacia brand. Hyundai and Kia dropped 4.7%.

“What we’re seeing right now in the European car industry is a squeezed middle,” Hyundai Europe chief Allan Rushforth said in an emailed statement. “German premium brands are coming down through the market while Hyundai is moving up (and) making life very difficult for European volume brands rooted in the mainstream.”

Source: Reuters