Europe Car Sales Spell Doom for GM


New car sales research from Europe shows that General Motors Co.'s (NYSE: GM) fortunes in the region have gotten much worse. Its decade-old string of losses is guaranteed to continue. Whatever car analysts believed in the past (and many believed GM's efforts in the region have been shattered for some time), the largest U.S. car company has reached the point where it is impossible to recover.

The February data for Europe car sales show a drop of 10.5%, compared with the same period a year ago. This is the lowest level since the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) began to keep figures. February sales of cars and light trucks in the European Union dropped to 795,482.

GM's numbers were much worse when put against the regional average, which means it also has fallen further behind the market leaders. GM's total sales dropped 20.6% year-over-year to 57,410 in February. Its market share dropped from 8.1% to 7.2% for the same period.

The major nemesis to all manufacturers that do business in Europe is Volkswagen - not only the largest company in the region by sales, but one that continues to gain market share. VW's sales dropped 7.4% in February over the same month a year ago to 195,608, but its market share rose from 23.8% to 24.6%. VW remains more dominant in its home market than GM is in the United States.

A number of other modest-sized companies in the market also outpaced GM. Among these were BMW, which has 5.8% of the market, Daimler, which has 5.3%, Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), which has 4.1%, and Hyundai, which has 3.9%. All of these are above their market share in February 2012. The Asia manufacturers have successfully pushed into the market, while the local luxury car companies continue to add to their edges.

In Europe, GM is boxed in among a larger competitor, Asian firms and the luxury end of the market. There is no reason to believe that these trends will end.

If GM was at a tipping point in Europe, as management tries to turn the operation around, that operation is now officially doomed.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Autos, International Markets Tagged: featured, GM, TM