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Western Europe Automotives Insight
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New passenger car sales in Germany totalled 1,882,400 in the first seven months of 2012, according to figures from Germany's automakers association (VDA). This was a fall of 0.07% year-on-year (y-o-y), indicating that the market is broadly flat at present. Passenger car exports (2,495,400 units) and production (3,294,500) were both unchanged on the previous year.

However, it was a more downbeat story for commercial vehicles (CVs), with sales down 2% in the Jan-Jul 2012 period, at 184,550 units. In H112, CV exports were down by 3.3%, at 143,732 CBUs, with CV production also down, by 0.6%, at 210,501.

Looking at the July figures specifically, monthly passenger car sales were down by 5% y-o-y, at 247,860. This is a very disappointing figure and it remains to be seen if this will represent a one-off blip or the start of a more protracted downturn in new car sales over the balance of 2012. For now, we maintain our forecasts for sales in this segment to increase by 1.1% over 2012 due to historic seasonality trends in the second half of the year. However, risks to this figure are now very much to the downside.

Certainly, the outlook for the German economy (and by extension its autos sector) continues to be overshadowed by the retrenchment in demand among euro area economies. BMI believes that, in the absence of a decisive resolution to the eurozone crisis over the next 12-18 months, investment levels are set to suffer substantially and both consumer and business confidence are likely to remain subdued, which will hit domestic demand across the economy ( see our online service, July 11, 'Falling Confidence To Hit Growth Hard'). As such, BMI believes the time is right to scale down its sales forecast for commercial vehicles to 0% growth in 2012 (down from 5% previously).

BMI is also making some downward revisions to its forecasts for production and exports in 2012. BMI now believes that German vehicle exports may show a slight decline of 0.2% this year (based on a flat performance by passenger cars, but a 2.25% decline in commercial vehicle exports), with overall autos production also set to fall by 1.2% (based on a 1% decline in passenger car output and a 2.5% decline in commercial vehicle output).

As of end-June 2012, the top-selling automaker in Germany remains Volkswagen (VW), which manufactured the three best selling cars in the country over the first half of the year, with the Golf, Passat and Polo models respectively. Opel occupied fourth position with its Astra model and 10th position with its Corsa model. Mercedes-Benz held fifth and ninth position, with its C-Class and B-Class models respectively. BMW has sixth and seventh position with its 3-Series and 1-Series models, with VW subsidiary Audi claiming eighth spot with its A6/A7

German Autos Sales
2010 2011 2012f 2013f 2014f 2015f 2016f
e/f = estimate/forecast. Sources: Verband der Automobilindustrie, ACEA,
Total vehicles, mn units 3.2 3.51 3.56 3.68 3.79 3.89 3.99
- % chg y-o-y -21 9.7 1.5 3.3 2.9 2.8 2.6
Passenger cars, mn units 2.92 3.17 3.21 3.31 3.41 3.5 3.6
- % chg y-o-y -23.4 8.8 1.1 3.3 2.8 2.7 2.7
Passenger cars, % of total domestic vehicle unit sales 91.2 90.5 90.1 90.1 90 89.9 90
Commercial vehicles, units 282,160 334,822 333,148 365,239 378,417 391,356 398,274
- % chg y-o-y 16.5 18.7 0 3.6 3.6 3.4 1.8
Commercial vehicles, % of total domestic vehicle unit sales 8.8 9.5 9.9 9.9 10 10.1 10
Motorbikes, units 190,309 186,122 186,842 192,731 199,079 205,159 210,950
- % chg y-o-y -10.93 -2.2 0.39 3.15 3.29 3.05 2.82

Part of the Automotives Insight series of newsletters, Western Europe Automotives Insight provides informed and independent analysis on the main trends affecting the Automotive industries in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

The Insight provides regular coverage of manufacturing and distribution developments in the region, analysing their implications at a local, regional and international level. Western Europe Automotives Insight also focuses on trend analysis and market forecasts, projecting forward an event's implications on the growth of a market, while tackling legislative moves to track government strategies. Major players in the market at country and regional levels are also systematically covered, assessing their local strategy and financial performance.

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