Development of Production
In 2014 the German manufacturers managed to increase their domestic production output by 3 percent to 5.6 million units. That marks a 13 percent increase in production in the past five years, whereas the West European market has shrunk by 11 percent during the same period. The comparison with other European automotive countries also underlines Germany’s keen competitiveness. Both France (-16 percent) and Italy (-39 percent) have had to significantly scale back their production in the past five years. Some 58 percent of passenger cars manufactured in Germany are accounted for by the premium sector. The strategy of backing high-quality models has further strengthened Germany during the slump in sales in Western Europe in recent years. German factories have also managed to withstand competition with foreign production plants.
German passenger car manufacturers source numerous components and assemblies from European suppliers. The value-added share of European suppliers outside Germany accounts for more than 40 percent of an average German-made passenger car.
The biggest segment in terms of share in 2014 remained the compact class with 29 percent. The next rankings were the mid-class with 23 percent and the increasingly popular SUVs with 15 percent, which managed to grow by more than a fifth in 2014. Other high-growth segments were upper range vehicles (+24 percent) and utilities (+19 percent).
Foreign manufacturing: 10 Million target
In 2014, German manufacturers managed to increase their foreign production by 8 percent to 9.3 million passenger cars. Domestic manufacturing also grew moderately during the same period. There is a balance between domestic and foreign commitment. Complete local production, which now accounts for 62 percent of German companies’ total production, is becoming ever-more important. It makes it easier for manufacturers to offer customized models capable of taking better account of customers’ requirements and predilections.
Passenger car production in 2014 developed differently in individual regions. In China, outside Germany far and away the most important production country for German OEMs, around 4 million passenger cars rolled off the production lines, an increase of 14 percent. With growth of 10 percent and a volume of 3.3 million, production in Europe outside Germany was also relatively dynamic. This positive production trend emphasizes the fact that Europe, and especially the Eurozone (+8 percent), are slowly but surely moving out of crisis mode. Developments in the Americas were very patchy. Whereas the NAFTA area saw growth of 4 percent 21.2 million units, output in South America plummeted by more than a quarter to 0.5 million units against the backdrop of a temporary recession in Brazil.
Exports: Great Britain remains most important partner
Exports were again the mainstay of the German automotive industry and its domestic plants in 2014. The previous year’s good performance was once again exceeded by almost 3 percent, with 4.3 million passenger cars. That made Germany world champions once again in the passenger car exports category, ahead of Japan and South Korea. Some 77 percent of domestic production was sold abroad, almost equaling the previous year’s high percentage. Especially when it comes to cars, the “Made in Germany” label continues to exercise a strong attraction worldwide.
Diesel’s share of exports exceeded the 43 percent mark. German manufacturers’ export success is based both on volume and premium models. This is apparent from the fact that three out of every five exported passenger cars come from the lowersegments up to and including the mid-range category.
The growth locomotive last year, up 10 percent, was the EU, which with 2.24 million units accounted for more than half of all passenger car exports from Germany. The most important partner country was, as in previous years, the United Kingdom (+7 percent) with 821,000 units; German manufacturers achieved a market share of more than 50 percent there. The year 2014 was the year in which the euro crisis countries again purchased large unit volumes from Germany. Both Italy (+14 percent) and Greece (+20 percent), Spain (+31 percent), Ireland (+35 percent) and Portugal (+47 percent) posted clear increases. In a number of Eastern European countries as well, passenger car imports from Germany grew significantly; especially noteworthy here are the Czech Republic with +39 percent and Poland with +29 percent.
Two potentially promising export markets in the Eurasian region remain behind expectations. Russia slumped by a quarter to 99,000 vehicles. Turkey as well, suffering from the wars in its neighboring countries, posted a decline of 15 percent to 136,000 units.
The second-most important sales continent for German passenger cars was America with 776,000 units (-9 percent). Latin America imported more than one fifth fewer passenger cars from Germany. Exports to Asia reached 741,000, thereby exceeding the previous year’s performance by 8 percent. With 274,000 units (+13 percent), China established itself as the third most important export partner after the USA with 613,000 vehicles (-6 percent). Big increases in the regions outside Europe were achieved by the two southeast. Asian tiger countries of South Korea (+29 percent) and Taiwan (+33 percent).