2012 Paris Motor Show, Is There a Silver Lining?
The 2012 Paris Motor Show started press conferences today, and will be opening to the public on Saturday, September 29. New models and technologies are sure to be presented, from over three hundred exhibitors, including automobile manufacturers and aftermarket manufacturers, hopefully to give us something to look forward to. Still under the dark cloud of declining auto sales, though, what can we really expect?
A few statistics might put things in perspective. European car sales have dropped every year for the last five years, and PwC’s Autofacts is forecasting a 5% decline in auto sales this year alone. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association’s [ACEA] data for August alone show nearly 9% drop in new vehicle registrations, 7% for this year-to-date, and expects the downward spiral that began in 2008 to continue for another year. France’s automobile factories only employ 800,000 workers, a 30% decline from ten years ago. Of all the European manufacturers, only Volkswagen has managed an increase in sales year-to-date.
Words that everyone wants to hear are an increasing sales forecast, but Alix Partners, automobile industry consultants, are predicting that it won’t be until 2020 that automobile manufacturers will pull out of this slump. Manufacturers have the capacity to produce twenty million more vehicles than they are expecting to sell. “Excess capacities not only create low utilized and uncompetitive plants, but also force manufacturers to push their vehicles onto the market with heavy price discounts”, said Stefano Aversa, Co-President of Alix Partners. “Over the long term, production in Europe has to be adapted to demand. Only then will volume manufacturers manage to be profitable again.”
Unfortunately, the market being as it is, many of the beautiful concepts we’ll see at the 2012 Paris Motor Show will probably never see the light of day. The demand just isn’t there. This year’s slogan, “The Future, Now,” has me wondering if it will be more dark cloud than silver lining. We’ll have to wait and see.