Saturday, 10 January 2009

Car sales fall by 21% (UK)


New car registrations fell again in the UK by 21% last month.

Analysts predicted car sales would fall down to 35% but sales were actually down 21.2% to 108,691 cars, taking the full year's total to 2,131,795, 11.3% down on 2007's figures - lowest since 1996. Diesel cars accounted for 43.6% of all new cars sold, an all-time high. Additionally, a 1/3 of all new cars sold were superminis; sales of city cars also grew.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the cut in value added tax (VAT) from 17.5% to 15% on 1st December may have been a contributory factor in the smaller than expected dip in sales. Until December, the slide in car sales had accelerating, from a fall of 18.6% in August to a 36.8% drop in November.

2008's best-seller was the Ford Focus (101,593 sold). The Focus was followed in the top ten by the Vauxhall Corsa (99,574), Ford Fiesta (94,989), Vauxhall Astra (90,641), Volkswagen Golf (65,029), Peugeot 207 (53,462), BMW 3 Series (49,384), Ford Mondeo (44,150), Vauxhall Zafira (43,169) and Vauxhall Vectra (42,555). Last month's best seller was the new Ford Fiesta.

A spokesman for the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) also said: 'The global economic downturn, precipitated by the crisis in the international banking and finance sector, created unprecedented challenges for the UK automotive industry in 2008.' He added: 'The measures taken by government to support the banking sector and kick-start demand have been necessary, but are not yet sufficient to restore confidence. Further action to ease access to finance and credit across the economy is essential if long-term damage to valuable industrial capability is to be avoided.' This years total car sales should top a mere 1.78 million cars.

Carmakers have been cutting output as stocks of unsold cars – cutting staff, reducing shifts, upping discounts to an all-time high, taking extended breaks over the holiday season and announcing prolonged shutdowns in the early months of 2009.

The better-than-expected UK figures contrasted with much bigger falls elsewhere in the final month of 2008. Earlier this week, all the leading U.S carmakers reported declines of more than 30% in December, while sales in Japan dropped 22% to the lowest December level on record.

In Europe, registrations fell by almost half in Spain, by 24% in France and 13.2% in Italy.

Last years winners, losers and the ones who are doing fine.


Seven manufacturers managed to produce positive growth last year. Disregard the quirks of MG and Hummer sales, and you're left with a handful of brands who enjoyed genuine success in a hard market.

Total 2008 UK new-car sales, % change over 2007.

MG 133 +13,200%

Hummer 174 +185%

Smart 7,526 +43%

Dodge 3,911 +20%

Volvo 33,358 +11%

Jaguar 20,346 +9%

Kia 31,324 +7%

Doing fine:

A baker's dozen held static or posted single-digit decline in 2008. Interestingly, this category included the three German premium giants, but the decidedly mainstream Nissan should be congratulated for holding level in a tough market.

Total 2008 UK new-car sales, % change over 2007.

Audi 100,845 0%

Chevrolet 18,372 0%

Nissan 66,336 0%

Mazda 49,858 -2%

Daihatsu 4,841 -4%

Hyundai 28,036 -6%

BMW 113,132 -7%

Fiat 55,325 -7%

Skoda 37,100 -7%

Ford 322,514 -8%

Lotus 647 -9%

Mercedes-Benz 74,883 -9%

VW 179,189 -9%


The majority of car companies suffered double-digit falls last year.

Total 2008 UK new-car sales, % change over 2007.

Vauxhall 298,912 -10%

Daimler 33 -11%

Toyota 105,717 -11%

Mini 40,736 -15%

Seat 29,397 -16%

Citroen 81,237 -17%

Mitsubishi 15,552 -18%

Alfa Romeo 5,950 -19%

Peugeot 118,701 -19%

Perodua 624 -19%

Honda 83,805 -21%

Suzuki 26,095 -21%

Subaru 4,668 -23%

Bentley 1,542 -27%

Aston Martin 1,565 -29%

Renault 89,570 -29%

Land Rover 32,567 -30%

Porsche 5,918 -31%

Saab 16,074 -32%

Lexus 10,122 -33%

Jeep 4,062 -34%

Proton 1,518 -39%

Cadillac 171 -50%

Ssangyong 629 -53%

Corvette 13 -75%

Tata 1 -80%

Rover 2 -97%


Mercedes & Smart - December proved to be a poor month for Mercedes as it reported U.S sales of 18,507 vehicles, a 32.1% decrease over the same month last year. The German carmaker's total 2008 volume was 225,128 units, an 11.2% decline compared to 2007.

Sales of the C Class model rose 13.8% for the year, while sales of the M Class increased by 1.3%. The Smart ForTwo that made its debut in the U.S market in 2008, recorded 2,341 sales in December while the company's year-to-date sales came up to a total of 24,622 units.

GM - Once again, General Motors recorded a significant drop in U.S sales in December delivering 221,983 vehicles, down 31% compared with a year ago.

GM's December car sales of 87,506 units were off 25% while its truck sales of 134,477 units were down 35% compared to the same month last year. Despite the plunge, GM officials seemed happy to report that December deliveries were up 30% compared with October and up 43% compared with November.

"Given the ongoing challenges and the difficult market environment, we were very encouraged to see a volume rebound for GM in December compared with both October and November," said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North America Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing.

"We are building more vehicles than ever that provide great value and Americans enjoy owning. That is why, for the year, we are seeing our market share holding steady at just above 22 percent. That's 5 % points more and 760,000 vehicles more than our nearest competitor," added LaNeve.

For the year, GM sold 2,980,688 vehicles in the U.S -down 23% compared with 2007, which allowed the company to maintain a market share just above 22%.

Ford - Ford Motor Company's U.S sales that include the Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo brands, totaled 139,067 units, down 32.4% compared with a year ago. Despite the decline, Ford estimates that the market share of the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands were 14.6% in December, up 0.7 of a point versus a year ago. For the full year, FoMoCo's sales were down 20.7% to 1,988,376 units, from 2,507, 366 units a year ago.

Chrysler - Chrysler LLC's December sales in the U.S were much worse than GM's 31% and Ford's 32.4% decline as the company reported sales of 89,813 units - down a staggering 53% from the same month in 2007. From January to December 2008, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge U.S sales decreased 30% to 1,453,122 units compared with total 2007 sales of 2,076,650 units.

Toyota and Honda recorded declines (36.7% and 34.7%). Audi and Subaru held off the slump better than most, with declines of just 9.3% and 7.7% respectively. Mini sold four more cars in 2008 than 2007 (3,566 units).

The best-selling vehicle in the U.S in 2008 was the Ford F Series pick-up truck. The F-Series sold over 515,500 units, with the Chevrolet Silverado - close behind at just over 465,000.

Large saloons accounted for the next two places in the 2008 top ten, Toyota Camry (436,600 units) and Honda Accord (372,800 units), with the more compact Toyota Corolla/Matrix (351,000 units) and Honda Civic (339,300 units) just behind. Also selling well were the Nissan Altima (269,700 units), Chevrolet Impala (265,800 units), Dodge Ram (245,800 units) and Honda CR-V (197,300 units).


Japanese vehicle sales had their worst December on record, with demand plunging 22% compared with the same month of 2007.

December sales of cars, trucks and buses fell to 183,549, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association (JADA).

Japan's recession has been blamed for the fall, together with the trend of people moving to urban areas and relying on public transport.

Vehicle sales for the whole of 2008 fell 5.1% to 5.08 million. It was the fifth consecutive year of falls, taking sales down to a 34-year low. Toyota sales fell 17.8%.

JADA predicted last month that sales in 2009 would fall to 4.86 million, but there is concern that the figure could be even worse than that.

"We never imagined sales would fall this badly," said Takeshi Fushimi, director of JADA. Lack of financing has been less of a problem than it has elsewhere.

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