And other sales news too. Alfa are trying hard to fill the shop window. There are still three models on sale, if you’re interested. Read on to see what they thought they’d be selling by now.
Not so many hours after I made up a slogan for Alfa “We’re still in business! 25% off a 2014 Giulia for an unlimited period” it turns out this is not far from the truth. This Alfa UK home page (above) is full of activity but not so full of cars, pretty much as it was when I posted this item.
If we take a look at the diagram for Alfa’s plans we see that two years ago the 159-replacement was due along with an SUV. And a Spider was due last year. There is no suggestion that there will be a 166-size car at any stage. So, we can say that it took a three decade fight, starting with the Alfa 6 in 1979 for Alfa to conclude a large car was never going to work out. And that there really is very little in the pipeline. Perhaps some of those Chryslers badged as Lancias can have Alfa Romeo badges applied instead.
While I am writing, the BBC posted a report that European Union car sales are still growing, with VW doing quite well. But the very same day Automotive News reports that Ford’s number one seller, the Fiesta is attracting less business. As a result the Cologne plant will be idled for 11 days in October and November. This is due to a slowdown in sales in some key regions for the Fiesta: Germany, France and Italy. On the plus side, Ford sales overall have improved by 15% in August.
And while the BBC puts a nice gloss on the recovery, Automotive News does not: sales are increasing but the rate of increase is slowing. “Peter Fuss, automotive expert at Ernst & Young, said it had been the second worst August in the past 12 years for car sales in the EU. “The tentative recovery in the European auto market seems to be running out of breath”.
The article goes on to distinguish between an increase in sales and increase in price levels. You can sell a car but not make so much money on it. Analysts don’t reckon on sales getting back to 2007 levels any time soon; 2020 they suggest. That leaves plenty of time for another crisis or two. The European seller’s market is dead, that’s for sure.
Does this slowing of sales imply something more unsettling is taking place in the European economy? A car is something you buy when you feel confident and have money. Why might it be that Europeans are lacking in one, other or both of these? The sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US started with a dramatic drop in plastic surgery business. In a similar way, does the slowing of car sales presage something worse?