30 July 2012

The European Car Crisis: GM/Ford 2012

Back in the 1990’s, Ford and Opel/Vauxhall had between them 20-25% of Western European car sales. In the first six months of 2012, only 16% and for June a mere 14%. You don’t have to be a statistician to work out there is a steady decline in market share for the two main US brands. When you also add that sales in the 90’s were similar to now, then volumes are well down. In 1999 for example, sales were on the rise and the two brands sold over 3 million, for six months of 2012 950,000. Much of the reduced production has been in the UK, from 600,000 units made in 1996, to less than 140,000 by GM only in 2011.

They need to cut back more, but where? I fear that Belgium having lost GM may now lose Ford. However, Germany would be an obvious place, as the German car buying public does not support them well anyway and they have several plants there. Below shows how the brands do in the four major car markets of Europe. The first number is place in the market; the last number is market share. Figures are for the first six months of 2012:

5 Opel 7.3%
6 Ford 6.9%
Total 14.2%

1 Ford 14.2%
2 Vauxhall 11.0%
Total 25.2%

5 Ford 5.2%
6 Opel 3.7%
Total 8.9%

3 Ford 7.2%
4 Opel 5.7%
Total 12.9%

Total Western Europe:
2 Ford 7.8%
3 Opel/Vaux 6.9%
Total 14.7%

German consumers are increasingly turning to VW and the three premium brands of that country. Europe as a whole is also going that way to those German marques, but not quite to the same degree. So considering the majority of Ford and GM vehicles are made in Germany, the fact they are only 5th and 6th in that market and below the Euro West average is surprising. Factories must be closed and Germany is the obvious place. They are not that supportive of the brands and the economy is the strongest one to cope with it. However, whether GM and Ford have the stomach to take on Ms Merkel and the unions is probably unlikely.


  1. Thanks Ray, a simple clear analysis that hits the button. I had not realised the combined market share had fallen so far. Its a pity because Ford in particular make good cars. Its also ironic that the market they are strongest in, the UK, is the one they abandoned car manufacture in (though they still make a lot of engines).

    Could you add to the analysis with some Ford/GM production figures for Germany?


    Chris G

  2. Thanks Chris. If you click on 'Production 2011', the figures you mentioned are the second article down just below 'Austria'.

  3. Thanks Ray. The numbers are interesting - Opel fewer than I thought. I wonder if Ford would consider moving production further East to save money?

  4. They just have too much capacity and they need to reduce that to become more profitable.