Development of the German Market
The year 2014 was no cause for rejoicing for the German automotive industry. Admittedly the market did achieve, and even slightly exceed, the forecast 3 million units mark. New registrations in the first quarter rose by almost 6 percent. After six months the increase had dwindled to only a good 2 percent, the market leveled off at around 3 percent at the end of the year; this was not least because of a good final sprint – there were 229,700 new passenger car registrations in December – that is plus 7 percent.
As in previous years, the performance is primarily attributable to the persistent spending restraint in the private customer segment. For the year as a whole, new private registrations fell by almost 2 percent. At 36 percent the proportion of private owners has hit a new low.
Admittedly, the economy, available income and the more than robust labor market are positive drivers of consumption, and thus also of new vehicle purchases. But it is also clear that in the current low interest phase and an individually experienced uncertainty about medium-term developments, income and savings are also being used from the point of view of “security.” Residential construction activity testifies to this trend. The current situation is also typified by passenger cars lasting longer and being kept for longer. The average vehicle age has been increasing for years.
German marques again managed to maintain their good position in the domestic market. Once more they managed modest growth with a market share of more than 72 percent. The biggest importing nation was once again Japan with a share of 8.8 percent. French companies remain in third place. South Korean manufacturers in 2014 achieved share of somewhat more than 5 percent. That is a slight fall compared with the year before.
In 2014, Japanese marques sold 5.3 percent more cars in Germany. They therefore outgrew the market as a whole (+2.9 percent). French marques also grew more strongly (+5.1 percent).
Whereas rather more than 28 percent of new registrations from French manufacturers was through the trade, this proportion was a good 32 percent for Japanese marques. In the case of the Koreans, the proportion of dealer registrations was again higher at 34 percent. With almost 45 percent, the Italian marques were in first place. In the case of German marques, registrations via the trade were a good 15 percent.
Mobility costs: Crude oil prices relieve strain on motorists
The year 2014 bore the stamp of a very minor price increase in Germany and Europe. The inflation rate in the euro area was below 1 percent – and thus a long way short of the European Central Bank’s target. An important factor in this development was the falling price of crude oil in the markets. Midway through the year, the WTI grade was still selling at more than 100 US dollars, by the end of this year, prices were barely more than 50 US dollars. Admittedly, the price drop has been somewhat less because of the depreciation of the euro, but is still significant. This was also apparent in mobility costs. The car cost index measures price movements in the various cost components as they affect the motorist. It includes not only the purchase cost of a passenger car but also the cost of fuel, spare parts and insurance. This makes it possible to track mobility cost developments. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the car cost index fell by 0.8 percent in 2014. The biggest easing of the burden came from fuel prices (-4.4 percent). Prices in all other subsegments either experienced moderate growth or remained stable.
Fuel costs constitute a considerable cost item for private owners – developments in 2014 therefore made a big contribution to economies in the mobility budget. Purchase costs increased only slightly – by 0.4 percent compared with the year before. The decisive factor was price increases of almost 3 percent in the pre-owned car segment. The price of new vehicles on the other hand was stable.