European car sales dropped 4.9% on year in August to 686,957 units after rising 4.9% in July as new registrations fell in France, Italy and Germany last month. However, the U.K. again continued to enjoy growth, with volumes increasing 10%.
In January-August, European sales dropped 5.2%.
Peugeot (PEUGF.PK) had a particularly bad August as sales slumped 18%, with Honda (HMC) -19.6%, Fiat (FIATY.PK) -4.9%, Toyota (TM) -4%, Volkswagen (VLKAF.PK) -11%, Audi -6.4% and Ford (F) -0.9%,
The auto market in Europe is stabilizing after five years of steep declines, car executives have said, but they expect the recovery to be long and slow due to high unemployment and soft bank lending in the region.
Europe should "see the end of the tunnel next year," said Renault (RNSDF.PK) chief Carlos Ghosn, who was speaking at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen (VLKAF.PK) aims to increase car sales to 9.5M this year from 9.3M in 2012, helping to boost shares 2.1% in Frankfurt. Brand sales dropped 1% in August to 461,600 cars, giving a year-to-date figure of 3.84M. That up 3.1% from last year.
European car sales dropped to the lowest levels since 1993 in H1, sliding 6.7% to 6.44M, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said, as the economic slump continued to bite. June registrations tumbled 6.3% to 1.18M, the lowest for the month since 1996. Sales in four of Europe's biggest automotive markets contracted in June, although the U.K. grew 13%. Manufacturer June breakdown: GM (GM) -9.9%, Ford (F) +6.9%, Volkswagen (VLKPF.PK) -4.4%, Daimler (DDAIF.PK) +0.6%, Peugeot (PEUGF.PK) -11%, Renault (RNSDF.PK) +0.9%, Fiat (FIATY.PK) -14%. (PR)
In an effort to remain competitive with BMW and Volkswagen, Daimler (DDAIF.PK) looks to cut IT service spending by €150M annually by H2 2016, Reuters says, citing Automobilwoche. Part of the plan will include bringing back outsourced IT systems from SAP.
Daimler (DDAIF.PK) may sell a portion of its loss-making German retail network to private equity or possibly Penske Automotive (PAG), MarketWatch says, citing a report from Automobilwoche. The company will not dispose of the entire network.
Automobile industry forecasters predict robust vehicle sales in the U.S. in 2013 as the momentum picked up in the sector in 2012 carries through into the new year. Polk's Anthony Pratt sees a larger focus on large pickup trucks this year, while a large slate of new models could also help stoke up demand. Fiscal cliff drama and a spurt of nasty winter weather in the last week of 2012 could have also pushed some sales forward.
New-vehicle registrations are expected to grow to 15.3M this year, research firm Polk says, with actual sales possibly reaching 15.4M from 14.4M in 2012 as the industry benefits from increased loan and lease access for consumers, and from refreshes in the midsize-car segment. Sales are also expected to top 16M in 2014 for the first time since 2007. The sales figures for 2012 are due tomorrow.
Shareholders are putting the finishing touches on concessions to squeeze out a deal to shake up EADS (EADSY.PK). The restructuring is expected to bring Germany on board as a direct shareholder for the first time, while allowing proxy industrial shareholders - French media firm Lagardere and Germany carmaker Daimler (DDAIY.PK) - to sell their stakes. Once completed, investors are hoping that meddling will be reduced as industrial proxy shareholders in France and Germany withdraw and state veto powers are curbed.
Germany may be preparing to buy a 3% stake in EADS (EADSY.PK -1.4%) from France as the two governments move to take equal stakes in the Airbus parent. That means Germany will acquire fewer EADS shares from Daimler (DDAIY.PK) than expected, which would force the car maker to sell shares in the open market.
August auto sales preview: The tally for new light vehicles sales in the U.S. is expected to come in strong, with an estimate of 1.255M units marking a 17.2% gain from last year and a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 14.2M. Perhaps even more relevant to auto stock investors, margins should improve with incentive spending per unit down 6% Y/Y. Japanese automakers should lead the charge again, boosted by earthquake-affected comps, while Volkwagen (VLKAY.PK) and Ford (F) are also tipped for a strong month.
A new study indicates that automobile buyers may be increasing their reliance on the Internet reviews as they ponder their various choices. According to Maritz Research, online auto shopping has advanced to the point that 11.4% of recent buyers even skipped taking a test drive before taking the plunge with a new vehicle. It's a disturbing trend for automakers and dealers used to impressing potential customers behind the wheel - instead of in front of the screen.
The selloff in Navistar (NAV -11.5%) gathers steam after a federal appeals court vacates an EPA rule that would have allowed the company to sell heavy-duty diesel truck engines that fail to meet the latest pollution standards for engine exhaust. The ruling was a big win for NAV's competitors, who initially filed the suit: Cummins (CMI +2.3%), Volvo AB (VOLVY.PK +1.2%) and Daimler AG (DDAIY.PK +0.2%).
Volkswagen is reportedly in the early stages of considering taking a stake in troubled U.S. truckmaker Navistar International (NAV) in a move that could help VW close the gap with rival Daimler. Shares of Navistar fell 14% on Thursday after the company reported a FQ2 loss.
Chinese vehicle sales fell 3.4% Y/Y in Q1, with passenger car sales off 1.3%. One strong spot was the luxury market where Volkswagon (VLKAY.PK) and BMW sales hit new records. GM also hit a new quarterly record, moving 745K vehicles in Q1.
Fed up with banks not interested in making loans, European companies are turning more to bond issuance, and - drum roll - overhauling finance units to take advantage of the candy handed out by the ECB. BMW (BAMXY.PK), Daimler (DDAIY.PK), and Siemens (SI) are among the firms that may participate in next week's LTRO.