Opinions are fragile things, aren´t they? Left alone and sheltered from the cold gusts of fact, they thrive but a few small bits of data can destroy them in an instant, like hail shredding the most tender of blossoms.
The ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturer´s Association) released data for car sales in 2014 recently. Automotive News made a bit of a meal of the matter of who would take next-to-top spot Would it be Renault, Opel or Ford who will take the number two position in the future? At the moment Ford holds this honour, with just under a million cars sold. GM, perhaps because one or two models are below par, sold a bit less again. But that part of the story, the cars-as-sports story, didn´t really interest me so much as the way the numbers reset my expectation.
As I said in the introduction, opinions are fragile things. My opinions about Renault and PSA are coloured strongly by my morbid obsession with their failures to sell a decent big car. They are also coloured by my idea that no-one´s buying Meganes and that the 508 is a bit of an also-ran with droopy lamps. Yet despite these burdens, Renault swept in at number four and, importantly, turned a profit while so doing. GM´s ability to sell 10,000 more cars only resulted in yet more money sloshing the wrong way out of their corporate wallet. Opel even sold more cars in ´14 than ´13 though Renault´s increase year on year was even larger. By July 2014 Renault had earned about half a billion Euros GM in the same market was losing a few hundred million per quarter. So, Renault is not as sick as I thought and GM´s position doesn´t mean a lot until they manage to sell cars for a bit more than they cost to make. Go on, build that Senator. I wonder if GM´s losses are a bit fake. They engineer cars for the US and the rest of the world so surely the investment cost should be reduced on a per-car basis globally. Nearly the entirety of the Buick Regal and Verano component sets are Opel. Has Opel been paid for their R&D? I somehow doubt it.
Curiously, Peugeot and Citroen are ranked as number 5 and 9 but, if lumped together (their cars do share a lot of common hardware), they sell 1.3 million units each year; VW who are the top doggy, sell 1.6 million cars. So, again, my misconception that Peugeot struggles to lure in customers is a bit off the mark despite the fact the 508 is not the car I want it to be and that the 308 has fussy styling around the rump. That´s another fond notion ground into the dust. DW.de (great site) reported in July that PSA managed to gather enough euros in one place to make an operating profit of €477 million for the first half year. That said, they exist courtesy of Dong Feng and the French state who have invested in the firm. Still, money´s money.
Down at the bottom of the ranks is Jaguar who sold 28,616 cars or 2384.6 vehicles a month. Can that be true? According to Jaguar, they sold 43,587 cars by June 2014 What´s the reason for the discrepancy? Well, they sell the other cars in the rest of the world. So, yes, Europe doesn´t take so many of Jaguar´s cars. An interesting site called Left Lane provided a breakdown of Jaguar´s European sales on a month by month basis. In August 2104 Jaguar sold 857 cars. You can see why the XE really matters. Oh, Alfa Romeo sold more cars than Jaguar and they are in at number 26: 59,198 cars. I wouldn´t have expected that.