Car sales in the first half of the year: German car companies are weakening in sales

The three major German car companies are reporting stagnating or falling sales for the first half of the year. In a comparison of premium brands, Munich is currently doing the best.

Things are going tough for the German car industry. All three large companies announced sales figures for the first half of the year today – none of them are in the black at group level. BMW got off relatively lightly with a minus of 0.1 percent to 1.21 million cars and VW with a 0.6 percent drop to 4.35 million. Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, lost 6 percent to 1.17 million.

At Volkswagen, it is primarily the core brand and Audi that are pulling the numbers down. The Ingolstadt subsidiary sold just 833,000 cars in the first half of the year, 8.2 percent fewer than a year ago. The core brand VW, which accounts for more than half of the group’s total sales, was able to maintain its sales in the first half of the year, losing only 0.2 percent to 2.22 million cars. However, the downward spiral accelerated significantly in the months April to June, with a loss of 5.2 percent during this period. In contrast, the subsidiaries Škoda and Seat/Cupra were able to increase sales.

China business is weakening

Business is particularly weak in China, where the VW Group sells a good third of all cars. Just under 1.35 million cars were sold there in the six months, 7.4 percent fewer than a year earlier. Sales of electric cars also took a hit. In the first half of the year, the group delivered 317,200 electric models worldwide, 4,400 fewer than in the same period in 2023. This was mainly due to weak demand in Europe and the USA, where 15 percent fewer electric cars were delivered in each case.

Audi was able to increase its electric car sales slightly from 75,600 to 76,700 vehicles. However, deliveries of the top model Q8 e-tron fell from 19,500 to 17,900. Due to weak demand for the Q8 e-tron electric model, the VW subsidiary is now considering prematurely ending production of the model in Brussels. This puts the entire site with around 3,000 employees at risk.

The VW Group was nevertheless optimistic about the rest of the year. “For the full year 2024, we continue to expect a slight increase in global deliveries compared to the previous year due to the launch and ramp-up of numerous important models in the second half of the year,” said Audi sales chief Hildegard Wortmann, who is also responsible for the department in the entire group.

Pure electric vehicles help BMW – but not as much

At BMW, the subsidiaries Mini and Rolls-Royce put pressure on the figures. Their sales fell by 18.7 percent to 114,000 cars and by 11.4 percent to 2,819 respectively. At Mini, ongoing model changes were noticeable. The core brand BMW, on the other hand, performed better with 1.1 million cars and growth of 2.3 percent and was able to almost compensate for the declines of the subsidiaries.

For the Munich-based company – unlike its arch-rivals in the premium segment, Audi and Mercedes – electromobility remained a growth driver. At group level, deliveries of pure electric vehicles at BMW increased by around a quarter to 190,600. However, the percentage growth has also weakened significantly here: In the full year 2023, BMW had achieved an increase of around three quarters in pure electric vehicles.

Sales Director Jochen Goller assessed the development “in a challenging market environment” positively: “In the first six months of the year, we managed to achieve double-digit growth with fully electric vehicles and models from the upper premium segment.”

Mercedes suffers from declining electric numbers

At Mercedes, almost 960,000 deliveries were made by the Mercedes-Benz Cars division – this was also a decline of 6 percent. The Vans division reported a decrease of 4 percent to 209,000. Electromobility proved to be a brake for the Stuttgart-based company: Sales of fully electric vehicles fell by 16 percent to 101,600 at group level, and by 17 percent to 93,400 for Cars. The ramp-up of electric vehicles is slowing down in important markets, the company said.

Mercedes said that model changes and availability bottlenecks had affected sales in the first half of the year. In the top product segment – which includes the S-Class – sales fell by 22 percent. This was also due to a subdued market environment in Asia. In the important Chinese market, sales fell by 9 percent.

Source: Stern

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