Back in June we noted that for luxury car manufacturers, the Chinese cash cow is dying. “The enormous growth rates luxury-car makers like us have seen in China in recent years won’t continue,” Porsche CFO Lutz Meschke warned at an event in Atlanta in May and needless to say, the picture has not brightened since then.
– European Car Sales Drop To 20-Year Low, Germany Clobbered (ZeroHedge, June 18, 2013):
When the S&P, always so conveniently ahead of the curve, yesterday revised its forecast for Europe from growth in the second half of 2013 to 2014 one couldn’t help but golf clap, as well as wonder if they finally started looking at the fundamental depressionary reality on the ground instead of the rating agency’s infamous “models.” A depressionary reality confirmed by the latest car sales number for May which just hit a fresh 20 year low.
European car sales hit their lowest level for the month of May in 20 years as the region’s recession dragged on, the European automakers’ association said Tuesday.
They meant depression instead of recession, but it’s an honest mistake.
Audi, BMW and VW ranked in the bottom 10 of a study into engine reliability
– German cars ‘among worst for engine failures’ (Auto Express, Jan 18, 2013):
German-made cars are not as reliable as many believe, according to new research. Warranty Direct has studied its claims data to compile a list of the manufacturers with the most reliable engines – and Audi, BMW and Volkswagen all finished in the bottom 10 out of a total 36 makers.
In fact, the only firm whose cars had a worse engine failure rate than Audi was MG Rover. MINI wasn’t much better, finishing third from bottom, while its parent company BMW came seventh from bottom. And, despite its reputation for rock-solid reliability, Volkswagen came ninth from bottom.
The Car Coach Lauren Fix on why ‘E15’ gas could damage drivers’ vehicles older than 2012 models.
– Chart Of The Day: The Unprecedented Implosion Of European Car Sales (ZeroHedge, Dec 4, 2012):
The graphic below, which presents an unvarnished picture of Europe’s true economic state, needs no explanation:
In the context of the above, no explanation is also needed that quietly, and without much fanfare, French car-maker, Peugeot, and Europe’s second largest after VW, was recently GMed, and received a government bailout.
Carmaker Peugeot gets $9.1B government bailout
The French government has agreed to underwrite up to €7 billion ($9.1 billion) of bonds issued by Banque PSA Finance SA, the financing unit of carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen SA, allowing the French automaker to offer low-cost credit to its dealerships and clients amid a slump in sales.
– Worse Than The Infamous Lehman September: France’s Private Sector Gets Kicked Off A Cliff (ZeroHedge, Oct 1, 2012):
This should have been an exciting moment: the Paris auto show, “Mondial de l’Automobil,” this weekend with over 100 new models from around the world, from econo-boxes with rounded corners to exotic prototypes that will never see production. Chicks next to some of them. Nausea-inducing colors, downsized motors. Something for everyone. But it had been preceded by two days of supplier events loaded with the dire verbiage of an industry that is on a death march. Particularly in France, whose private sector is veering into economic fiasco. And on Monday, it became official.
A barometer of the real economy in France, new car sales as measured by registrations, crashed in September—down 18.3% from September last year, and accelerating (year-to-date, sales were down “only” 13.9%). It was the worst September in years, worse even than the infamous Lehman September of 2008. And 2012 is shaping up to be the worst year since long before the financial crisis.
Of the French brands, market leader PSA Peugeot Citroen saw sales drop “only” 5%, helped by the introduction of its new sub-compact Peugeot 208. But year to date, sales were down 18.4%. Renault got killed. A stunning 33.4% plunge for the month and 19.8% YTD.
An equal-opportunity fiasco. Even the heroes from across the Rhine got their clocks cleaned in France. Volkswagen (VW, Audi, SEAT, Skoda) fell 17.4%. BMW and Mercedes where hit as well. GM (Opel, Chevrolet) tumbled 20.8%, Ford 31.5%. And Fiat, well, it might as well hang up its hat: down 38.4%!
BMW is slashing boardroom pay by 40%, executive pay by a third and employee wages and salaries by 10% in an effort to preserve cash and retain its independence in the current savage car-market downturn.
The German group had €8bn (£7.3bn) in cash at the end of last year when it saw profits drop from more than €4bn in 2007 to just €921m, after demand plunged by a quarter at the end of last year.
Norbert Reithofer, BMW’s chief executive, told a press conference: “I am convinced that our employees understand the difficulty of the current situation and are willing to accept this hardship.” The dividend has been cut from €1.06 to €0.30 in a savage blow to shareholders.
Reithofer is paid a basic salary of €600,000 but saw his overall package last year cut to €2.3m from €3.75m in 2007, largely because his bonus was slashed in half to €1.65m as group earnings and sales plunged.
One official said: “I can live with this. At least I’ve got a job, a flat and a car.” But it is unclear how the 100,000-strong workforce will react after seeing a net 5,700 jobs go last year, 6,000 temporary staff lose their posts, including 850 at Mini’s Oxford factory, and plants put on a four-day week.
Car sales in the US collapse:
November Auto Sales: Porsche sales drop by half (Source: Forbes)
November Auto Sales: Daimler AG’s sales decline (Source: Forbes):
Total sales at Daimler’s U.S. operations fell 29.9 percent to 15,991 from 22,819 in November 2007
Sales of Mercedes-Benz brand vehicles last month declined 38.2 percent to 14,102 while the company sold 1,889 of its two-seater Smart models. Smart was introduced to the North American market in mid-January of this year.
Mercedes-Benz USA said its best-selling model family, the C-Class, had a 36.1 percent drop-off in sales, and E-Class sales fell by 49.3 percent.
November Auto Sales: BMW sales fall 26.8 percent (Source: Forbes)
Volkswagen November U.S. Sales Fall 19% on Economy (Source: Bloomberg)
Audi U.S. November sales fall 25.4% (Source: Market Watch)
Berlin under fire as German car sales collapse
German car sales have plunged to the lowest level since reunification almost twenty years ago, increasing pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel to abandon budget restraint and back plans for an EU-wide rescue package.
Registrations fell 18pc in November, led by a drop of 36pc in Opel sales. “The crisis has again worsened dramatically,” said Volker Lange, of the VDIK motor vehicle association.
Volkswagen is to suspend production at its Wolfsburg headquarters this month. BMW has cut output in Leipsig to one day a week and Porsche is shuttering its Stuttgart plant for a week. It is just as bad in France where PSA Peugeot Citroen is halting production for a month at Sochaux, the country’s biggest industrial site.
The slump in Germany’s core industry has led to vocal criticism of the Left-Right coalition government. The Handelsbatt newspaper warned this week that the coalition faces a “rebellion” unless it faces up to the gravity of the crisis.
Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Holland and Austria have joined forces to launch the greatest bank bail-out in history, offering over €1.5 trillion in guarantees and fresh capital in a “shock and awe” blitz to halt the credit panic.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy Photo: PHILIPPE WOJAZER
The move – unveiled simultaneously in the six states to maximise the show of unity – throws the full weight of the eurozone behind global efforts to stem the crisis.
The move gave a tremendous boost to bourses across Europe, lifting the Euro Stoxx index by 9.53pc in the biggest one-day rally ever.
The pan-European plan – totalling over $2 trillion, or £1.17 trillion – completes the third leg of a dramatic restructuring of finance across the Western world. Sovereign states have now absorbed the brunt of the credit risk in half the global economy.
For years, Germany Inc.’s best promotional vehicles have been the world-class luxury cars the country produces. Shiny Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz cars are like mobile billboards for excellence, from New York to Moscow, Buenos Aires to Shanghai.
But as the global financial crisis begins to take its toll on the real economy, Germany’s export machine has hit a wall. German exports fell 2.5% in August, the sharpest fall since 2003, as consumers and companies around the world cancel orders for everything from high-end industrial equipment to chemicals.
The car industry, still Germany’s biggest employer, is the worst hit. High gas prices in key markets such as the U.S. have slowed sales for months. Some consumers have been waiting for more fuel-efficient models, while many more are now delaying new purchases because of uncertainty over their jobs. Thanks to the credit crunch, even people who want to buy are finding finance has dried up.
All that spells trouble for the likes of BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen, Ford Europe and General Motors’ Europe arm, Opel. Ferdinand Dudenhoffer, a respected industry analyst, predicts that the number of new German cars delivered to customers in 2008 will fall by at least 100,000 units to around 3.1 million, and will likely slip below three million next year. As a result, he says, German car companies will have to cut up to 20,000 jobs over the coming year.
Germany and other industrialized nations are desperately trying to brace themselves against the threat of a collapse of the global financial system. The crisis has now taken its toll on the German economy, where the weak dollar is putting jobs in jeopardy and the credit crunch is paralyzing many businesses.
A trader reacts in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange.
The Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, doesn’t like to see its employees working too late, and it expects even senior staff members to be headed home by 8 p.m. On weekends, employees seeking to escape the confines of their own homes are required to sign in at the front desk and are accompanied to their own desks by a security guard. Sensitive documents are kept in safes in many offices, and a portion of Germany’s gold reserves is stored behind meter-thick, reinforced concrete walls in the basement of a nearby building. In this environment, working overtime is considered a security risk.But the ordinary working day has been in disarray in recent weeks at the Bundesbank headquarters building, a gray, concrete box in Frankfurt’s Ginnheim neighborhood, where the crisis on international financial markets has many employees working late, even on weekends.