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VW, Stellantis and Renault accelerate before the rise of Asian cars

Toyota, Kia and Hyundai break sales records with a joint share of 23.

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VW, Stellantis and Renault accelerate before the rise of Asian cars

Toyota, Kia and Hyundai break sales records with a joint share of 23.5% and challenge the large European vehicle manufacturers.

In 2019, the year before the pandemic, the three Asian car brands with the most presence in Spain had a market share of 15%, according to IEA data based on information from the DGT. Toyota was fifth in the ranking of best-selling vehicles, Hyundai eighth and Kia ninth. A pandemic and a logistics and component crisis later, Toyota is the brand that sells the most in Spain -20,853 vehicles between January and April-, followed by Kia -18,169- and not far behind Hyundai, sixth, with 15,835. Between the three they add a share of 23.5% and break all records.

The turnaround of recent months is one more example of the particular moment that the automotive industry is going through. Seat has gone from being the brand with the most sales in 2019 to fifth position, while Peugeot has gone from second to fifth place and Renault, from fourth to eighth. Volkswagen, on the other hand, maintains the third position.

Industry sources explain that the change of forces responds to the long delivery times, which sometimes reach eight months and that it has facilitated the import of models that can be distributed more quickly. The mid-range or low-end bestsellers such as the Seat León or the Dacia Sandero, which were the two best sellers before the pandemic, have now been replaced by the brands with the greatest capacity to overcome the shortage of semiconductors. Between January and April, the best-selling models were the Volkswagen T-Roc, the Hyundai Tucson and the Toyota Corolla.

The sector also considers that this anomaly, in which Seat, Stellantis and Renault seem to be displaced, is punctual and, along with other indications, is one more symptom of what the president of the association of vehicle sellers Ganvam Raúl Palacios qualifies of "perfect storm". "The vehicle that is needed is not being sold, but the one that generates the least uncertainty for the consumer," he commented at a meeting organized by Cetelem and EXPANSIÓN held this week.

"The market is tremendously competitive and has very changing dynamics," said the general director of Anfac, José López-Tafall, at the same event, referring to the strength of Asian models in the Spanish market.

European manufacturers have already decided that, faced with production problems at a time of strong demand, they will concentrate on the premium range. This approach already allowed them to skyrocket margins last year and post record profits. Volkswagen exceeded its highest profits, with 14,843 million, as did BMW, which reached 13,400 million profit, and Daimler, with 16,028 million.

These figures were obtained despite the fact that the market is not raising its head. In Spain, the registrations of new cars until April fell by 12% and the forecast of the Faconauto sales association is that the year will close with just 800,000 units sold. If the forecast is confirmed, it would be the third worst year for sales so far this century, with figures comparable to those of 2012 and 2013, when the country was in the worst moment of the previous financial crisis.

Manufacturers are aware that, despite inflation, the situation will return to normal with the restoration of chip supply and the recovery of logistics chains. The question is when.

From Ganvam, Palacios points out that the normalization will begin to be appreciated after the summer if there are no unforeseen events, while some manufacturers point more to the long term. Oliver Zipse, president of BMW, has warned that the current is the "peak of the crisis", but that in 2023 there will also be "major supply shortages". Arno Antlitz, financial director of the Volkswagen Group, anticipated in the last presentation of the group's results that in 2023 the situation will improve, but that the chip problem will not be fully resolved until 2024.

With the chip crisis over, the future trade battle will focus on technological change towards electrification. Tesla, with a growth of 170% in Spain until April and with the Model 3 as the best-selling electric in the country, sets the commercial pattern, but European manufacturers are already achieving that models such as the Citroën C4 or the Fiat 500 are consolidated in this segment.

An Influence Map report with data from the consultancy IHS shows that Mercedes, BMW, VW, Stellantis and Renault are better positioned than Hyundai or Toyota when it comes to meeting electrification and emissions targets for this decade. The report shows that in 2029 56% of the vehicles that Mercedes produces will be electric, compared to 45% for BMW, 43% for VW and 40% for Stellantis. Instead, Hyundai, with 27%, and Toyota, with 14%, will fall behind in the race.

The report also assigns the EU better prospects than other regions when integrating electrification. At the end of the decade it will lead markets such as commercial vehicles, in which 59% of the fleet will be electric, compared to just 35% in the United States.

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