New passenger car sales in Germany totalled 1,882,400 in the first seven months of 2012, according to figures from Germany's automakers association (VDA). This was a fall of 0.07% year-on-year (y-o-y), indicating that the market is broadly flat at present. Passenger car exports (2,495,400 units) and production (3,294,500) were both unchanged on the previous year.
However, it was a more downbeat story for commercial vehicles (CVs), with sales down 2% in the Jan-Jul 2012 period, at 184,550 units. In H112, CV exports were down by 3.3%, at 143,732 CBUs, with CV production also down, by 0.6%, at 210,501.
Looking at the July figures specifically, monthly passenger car sales were down by 5% y-o-y, at 247,860. This is a very disappointing figure and it remains to be seen if this will represent a one-off blip or the start of a more protracted downturn in new car sales over the balance of 2012. For now, we maintain our forecasts for sales in this segment to increase by 1.1% over 2012 due to historic seasonality trends in the second half of the year. However, risks to this figure are now very much to the downside.
Certainly, the outlook for the German economy (and by extension its autos sector) continues to be overshadowed by the retrenchment in demand among euro area economies. BMI believes that, in the absence of a decisive resolution to the eurozone crisis over the next 12-18 months, investment levels are set to suffer substantially and both consumer and business confidence are likely to remain subdued, which will hit domestic demand across the economy ( see our online service, July 11, 'Falling Confidence To Hit Growth Hard'). As such, BMI believes the time is right to scale down its sales forecast for commercial vehicles to 0% growth in 2012 (down from 5% previously).
BMI is also making some downward revisions to its forecasts for production and exports in 2012. BMI now believes that German vehicle exports may show a slight decline of 0.2% this year (based on a flat...