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GM’s Europe Sales Continue to Drop

By Douglas A. McIntyre

Car sales in Europe were decimated by the deep recession, which is not over in some countries, at least based on employment and gross domestic product.

However, the very modest rebound from the trough has triggered some improvement in regional car sales, although it may take some time for those sales to return to their pre-recession peaks.

One company that has not been lifted by the overall trend is General Motors . The region has posted losses for years, as the number one American car company has tried to get its footing.

In total, September car registrations made a tiny jump, which has been a trend for some time. According to the ACEA:

In September, the EU market for new passenger cars expanded for the thirteenth consecutive month, totalling 1,235,501 units. Substantial growth prevailed in all major markets, Spain (+26.2%), France (+6.3%), UK (+5.6%), Germany (+5.2%) and Italy (+3.3%) leading to an upturn (+6.4%) across the region as a whole.

The United Kingdom is by far the largest market in the European Union, and it posted 425,861 registrations last month, up 5.6%. Germany is the largest market on the continent, with 260,062 cars registered in September.

The largest car company in Europe posted a growth rate slightly better than the overall market. Volkswagen sales rose 6.7% to 290,524. It holds 23.5% of the market, well above the one U.S. market leader GM has in America at 17.9%.

PSA, number two in Europe, registered 127,366 cars, which was up 9.8% from September last year. After that, Renault  rose 10.7% to 103,417. Ford registrations have moved ahead of GM’s and its numbers rose 6.7% to 101,399. GM lagged with registrations down 5.9% to 92,578. This caused GM’s market share to drop to 7.5% in September from 8.5% in the same month a year ago.

Just three weeks ago, GM management commented that it expected to make money in Europe in 2016. However, forecasts of what will happen more than a year out are dangerous to make. GM, in particular, has a steep hill to climb, particularly since its sales in Europe continue to erode quickly.