Bloomberg News

Peugeot, Fiat Lead European Car Sales Drop as Economy Stalls

November 16, 2011

(Updates with analyst’s comment in fourth paragraph.)

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- PSA Peugeot Citroen, Renault SA and Fiat SpA led declines in European car sales as economic confidence in the region fell and two of the region’s five biggest markets contracted.

Registrations dropped 1.4 percent to 1.04 million vehicles from 1.06 million units a year earlier, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA, said today in a statement. Ten-month sales declined 0.9 percent to 11.5 million registrations.

Sales in Italy and Spain, the region’s fourth- and fifth- biggest markets, fell 5.5 percent and 6.7 percent respectively. Peugeot and Renault, France’s largest carmakers, have both announced production-capacity cuts to trim inventories. Turin, Italy-based Fiat is working to stem an increase in debt as its domestic car market approaches a 30-year low.

Peugeot, Renault and Fiat “all suffered from exposure to the countries which underperformed, like Spain and Italy, with the product line at Fiat also part of the problem due to delayed launches,” Sascha Gommel, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Commerzbank AG with a “hold” recommendation on the three companies, said today by phone. “The next Fiat Panda is coming out next year, which should contribute a bit to volumes.”

Western European Decline

The ACEA reports figures from European Union member countries plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. Western European car sales, which don’t include figures from the nations that have joined the EU since 2004, slipped 1.2 percent to 980,636 vehicles.

European sales at Paris-based Peugeot, the region’s second- biggest carmaker, dropped 6.4 percent, while registrations at Renault declined 2.6 percent. Fiat’s sales fell 10 percent.

Europe’s manufacturing industry contracted for a third month in October, adding to signs the 17-nation euro-area is edging toward a recession. Economic confidence in the region fell to the lowest in almost two years in October, while German business sentiment dropped to a 16-month low.

Sales in Portugal and Poland both slipped from the previous year, plummeting 41 percent and 17 percent respectively. Growth in Germany, Europe’s largest car market, accounting for almost one in four cars sold in the region, slowed to 0.6 percent, holding back the car sales increase this year in the country to 9.8 percent.

Market Outlook

Automotive analysts J.D. Power & Associates estimate that industrywide car sales in western Europe will fall to 12.6 million vehicles in 2012 from the 12.8 million deliveries anticipated this year and the 13 million posted in 2010.

Daimler AG, whose Mercedes-Benz division is the world’s third-biggest luxury-vehicle maker after Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Volkswagen AG’s Audi division, posted a 9.6 percent European sales drop. General Motors Co., whose main brands in Europe are Opel and Vauxhall, reported a 3 percent decline.

European sales at Volkswagen, the region’s biggest carmaker, rose 4.3 percent. The Wolfsburg, Germany-based owner of the Skoda and Seat brands has introduced a new version of the Passat mid-sized car and a revamped Audi A6 sedan in the past year.

Ford Motor Co.’s European registrations climbed 6.4 percent as sales of its new Focus hatchback soared. Sales at BMW increased 2 percent. The Munich-based carmaker redesigned its mid-size 5-Series model line last year, and its global deliveries of the revamped X3 sport-utility vehicle more than tripled last month.

--Editors: Tom Lavell, Thomas Mulier

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Webb in Frankfurt at awebb25@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net


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