After years of trouble in Europe, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) has finally gotten some relief as sales of its cars and light truck rose in the region during February. While the news represents tiny progress, it is better than the reverses GM has been unable to change recently. While the car market in the European Union recovered last month, GM’s sales rose even faster.
The AECA reported that overall car and light truck sales within the EU were up 8% to 861,058, about three-quarters of the number of vehicles sold in the United States during February. GM’s sales moved higher by 12.6% to 64,865. Market share rose from 7.2% a year ago to 7.5%.
The largest car company in Europe based on sales, Volkswagen, could not best the overall improvement in the region. Its sales rose 8% to 211,979. Its market share remains close to 25%. GM is the market share leader in the United States, but its figure is only 18%.
Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) fortunes also improved, as sales were up 12.2% to 57,426. It has also posted losses in Europe for most of the past decade. Chrysler parent Fiat continues to do poorly in Europe, with sales higher by only 5.6% to 58,050. It has been pointed out frequently that Fiat’s buyout of the once trouble Chrysler was a stroke of genius because of Fiat’s recent trouble.
The world’s largest car company, Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), is not much of a factor in Europe, based on its sales elsewhere. But its sales were up 16.2% to 37,677.
The unexpected trend in February European cars sales was the trouble for luxury car companies, which have enjoyed improved sales worldwide for the past two years. Sales of BMWs were up by only 2.8% to 47,891. Sales of Mercedes were only higher by 5.5% to 39,193. Only Audi, part of VW, posted a strong improvement — up 13.1% to 46,766. It could soon take the luxury sales crown from BMW.
GM continues to work on ways to cut costs in Europe. Fortunately, if sales continue to improve, expenses will not be the only tool in its turnaround.