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Thursday, July 18, 2013 4:00 AM

European Car Sales Plunge to 20-Year low

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Amidst all the happy talk that Europe is on the verge of some sort of recovery, here is yet another counterpoint: European Car Sales Plunge to 20-Year Low

Despite hopes that the European market might have finally bottomed out, car sales for the first half of 2013 plunged to a 20-year low, according to industry data, with little sign that the downturn is about to reverse itself.

According to new data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA, new vehicle registrations continued to slip with a decline of 6.3% in June, bringing total sales for the first six months of the year to just 6.44 million, a 6.7% drop.

Among the five largest markets, only the U.K. was up, a countervailing 13%, while the other regional powerhouses, Germany and France were down 4.7% and 8.4%, respectively.  The United Kingdom, in fact, has been running counter to the downward slide all year, so far gaining 10%.

Among smaller markets, sales plunged 42.7% in Cypress, the latest European country to receive a bailout aimed at helping restructure its lopsided sovereign debt load.

Even the traditionally strongest manufacturers have been struggling this year, Volkswagen AG declining 4.4%, with its high-line Audi brand down 8.8%, according to industry figures. Italy Fiat SpA was off 10% for the first half, with France’s Peugeot off 13.3%, one of the worst declines of any major brand and a further worry for a company desperate to reverse mounting, multi-billion dollar losses. Honda was the rare winner among mainstream brands, with a sale gain of 6.4%.

Only a handful of luxury brands bucked the industry downturn, Mercedes up 3.5%, Land Rover rising 10.2%, and Jaguar gaining 15.5%. But BMW was down 7.7%.
As I said yesterday ....

Expect the recovery to be "weaker than expected". Indeed, expect no recovery at all. Rather, expect Germany to contribute in a major way to the pending "unexpected" non-recovery, unless by some miracle European exports to Mars suddenly take off.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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