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FULL ARTICLE | EDITORIAL 
Europe still bathed in wall to wall sunshine
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Thu, 05th May 2016 13:17:18 GMT
 

Geneva Motorshow 2016 crowds Toyota


Open quote signReality is proving unkind to some previously pessimistic autoindustry forecasters. In an automotive world that is not short of good tidings at the moment, here is yet another welcome piece of genuinely good news. Even as analysts and observers peek through the curtains for the first bank of dark clouds on Europe’s immediate horizon, reality is that already four months through the year, West Europe’ car market still remains blessed by door to door sunshine. Right as the start of this year, put simply, the forecasting community was über-negative.

The total number sold to date has already exceeded last year’s comparative level by almost 8 per cent. 

Good motoring by any measure. 

Hard on the heels of respective monthly sales gains of 6, 13.7 and 5.2 per cent this January, February and March, AID’s provisional early stab at April’s turnout reveals a gain of around 8 per cent. 

In the industry at least, that’s bound to trigger a renewed sigh of relief. 

That’s chiefly because this April marks the 32nd successive rise in sales. 

Why? 

Undeterred by a weakening global environment, in the eurozone unemployment has now slipped to a five-year low and business confidence is up too. 

Above all, rising consumer confidence, a cheery economic outlook and cheap credit have got Europe’s car sales motoring again. 

Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? 

Already one third through the year, and no detectable heat loss in Western Europe, or for that matter in the vast majority of the regions’ markets regularly surveyed by AID’s pulse sensors, April’s 8 per cent plus gain in sales simply couldn’t fail but send industry number crunchers back to their calculators. 

Yet another round of upward revisions of previously pessimistic 2016 sales projections will be in order. 

At this stage the message is clear. 

West Europe’s car market, morphed of late from laggard to growth locomotive on the global car sales scene, shows precious few signs of losing steam. 

So far at least.

Early days, yes, but barring a renewed financial meltdown during the second half, the tailwinds from a steadily improving economy, low fuel prices and steadily improving consumer confidence in the eurozone can’t fail but boost optimism. 

In consequence, these undeniably upbeat factors add weight to a notably rosier than earlier expected outlook for this year’s West European car sales prospects.

Outwardly at least, the stored up heat in the market, thanks to a continuing flow of upbeat tell-tale indicators on Europe’s economic front, is such that this year's passenger sales alone remain on track for a likely 14m sales. 

Now, that has to be put into proper perspective. It would be the first time since pre-crisis 2007 that West Europe’s new car sales eclipsed that level. 

If that were to happen, and reading today’s runes says it might, Europe’s painful and protracted hangover from the financial crisis would finally be over. 

Forget the beer, bring on the champagne. 

Or at least, put it on ice for now
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