Only Volkswagen fails to cash in on rising European car sales
The Volkswagen logo is seen on a car during the Car Show in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 22, 2015. (AP / Michael Probst)
The Associated Press
Published Friday, January 15, 2016 5:38AM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 15, 2016 1:04PM EST
MILAN -- Volkswagen lagged while other major automakers cashed in on record European car sales in December as the German company struggled with the fallout from its emissions-cheating scandal.
The ACEA carmaker's association said Friday that sales in December enjoyed their strongest surge in the market's 28-month rebound, with an increase of 17 per cent to 1.1 million units.
That means European car sales rose 9 per cent over last year as a whole, a welcome bump as the region recovers from years of economic and financial crisis. Registrations are only now passing levels from 2010 recorded after the eurozone debt crisis broke out in Greece in late 2009.
Volkswagen severely lagged the trend, with the group's market share eroding to 22.5 per cent in December from 24.7 per cent in the same month the year previously. December sales for all the company's brands, which also include Audi, SEAT and Skoda, rose just 4.7 per cent.
The scandal over Volkswagen's cheating on U.S. diesel emissions tests became known only on Sept. 18, so it mainly affected the company's sales for the last part of the year.
Analysts at Evercore ISI predict that the scandal will wind up costing Volkswagen 4.2 billion euros ($4.6 billion) in lost sales, plus 5.1 billion euros in weaker pricing. Volkswagen lost market share at home in Germany compared to the first nine months of the year, but was resisting the temptation to discount prices to maintain market share.
They said the December market share declines were in line with expectations and that while Volkswagen "is far from out of the woods," the scandal also provides an opportunity to make the company more efficient under new managers installed since the scandal broke.
By comparison, Volkswagen's mass market and premium competitors alike posted strong double-digit sales gains. France's PSA Group saw sales rise 21.4 per cent in December, while Renault had a 27.9 per cent increase. Both increased their market share slightly during the month.