The sales figures for the all-important September plate-change have just been released, but most manufacturers will be wishing that they hadn’t been.
Across all segments, sales were down by a whopping 21.2 per cent, or almost 90,000 units compared to September 2007, making this the worst single fall ever recorded.
The news was made worse by the fact the figures show a big swing from profitable large cars to low-margin small ones, with both SUVs and luxury cars down by over 40 per cent, while sales of city cars grew by 17 per cent.
The hardest hit manufacturer was Chrysler, with sales across the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands dropping by 56.3 per cent. Renault endured an even worse month, dropping 50.8 per cent compared to the same month last year – a fall of over 10,000 units.
Indeed, the combined French decline of over 21,000 units in a single month accounted for 23.7% of the total sales fall. At last week’s Paris Show, Renault boss Carlos Ghosn said that these were the worst conditions since 1929 – and these figures confirm his view.
While it is no surprise that sales off off-roaders are down, it is striking that manufacturers of smaller but less popular models are suffering just as badly.
Both Alfa Romeo and Saab are both down by more than 40 per cent, despite having lots of economical diesel models to choose from.
In terms of overall sales, Ford was the biggest loser. Its per centage fall of 23.04 per cent is relatively good against the rest of the market, but the company’s leading status in the UK market means that equates to 13,400 fewer vehicles being sold this September compared to last year.
Amidst the gloom, bright spots are few and far between. Only three manufacturers showed a September sales improvement year-on-year. Audi will be delighted to have increased sales by 1.38 per cent while rivals BMW and Mercedes fell by 24.11 per cent and 9.15 per cent respectively.
Jaguar’s year-on-year increase of 3.38 per cent proves just how popular the new XF has been, while demand for city cars has boosted Smart’s numbers, the brand recording a 9.26 per cent increase.
Top five losersChrysler -56.3%Renault -50.8%Land Rover -49.7%Saab -46.2%Alfa Romeo -44.0% Top five winnerSmart 9.3%Jaguar 3.4%Audi 1.4%Mazda -1.6%Kia -4.9%