Europe’s car sector sector hits bottom

Europe’s car sector sector hits bottom

PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Europe’s car sector sector hits bottom

The Renault Clio RS edition is on display at the Brussels Motor Show. The company plans to cut 7,500 jobs in homeland France, executives say. EPA photo

European auto sales plunged to their lowest point in 17 years in 2012, trade data revealed Wednesday after Renault announced the latest job cuts to hit the beleaguered sector.

New car registrations in the European Union fell by 8.2 percent from their 2011 level to 12.05 million units last year, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said. Sales in December fell for the 15th month in a row by 16.3 percent on a 12-month basis, even slipping slightly in Germany despite the global strength of top German brands.

French automakers in particular are being hard hit with Renault announcing 7,500 job cuts late on Jan. 15. Renault’s producer in Turkey said last month it did not plan any capacity fall or layoffs.
PSA Peugeot Citroen, the second-biggest carmaker in Europe after the booming German VW group, has just been rescued by the state. The group is restructuring with 8,000 job cuts and targets development abroad after a government report said its strategy had missed the bus of globalization. Yesterday, French car parts maker Faurecia reported weak results causing its shares to plunge.

By contrast the VW group has reported record global sales for 2012 with a rise of 11.0 percent to 9.07 million units and aspires to being the biggest manufacturer globally, ahead of Japanese Toyota, by 2018. German Daimler said at the Detroit auto show this week that it is on track to be the world’s top luxury carmaker by the end of the decade.

The second-biggest manufacturer globally is General Motors, which struck a strategic partnership with PSA this year, but GM’s sales across the whole of Europe fell by 8.2 percent last year, the US group said in Detroit.