VW slips in market share in Europe for 13th month

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VW slips in market share in Europe for 13th month

Volkswagen AG lost market share in Europe for the 13th consecutive month since an emissions scandal erupted in September 2015, as competitors took advantage of a loss of confidence in the German carmaker to attract buyers.

Volkswagen, which was losing ground to rivals even before admitting to emissions-test cheating last year, accounted for 22.9 percent of the region’s auto sales in September compared with 23.3 percent a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said in a statement Friday. Industrywide registrations rose 7.3 percent last month to 1.5 million vehicles, outperforming Volkswagen’s 5.6 percent gain.

European car sales have been increasing since 2013, rebounding from a two-decade low in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Growth has cooled in recent months, as concerns about the U.K.’s exit from the European Union and Deutsche Bank AG’s future cloud the region’s economic outlook.

Auto manufacturers posted their first sales dip in almost three years in July, typically a weak month for the sector, and September’s gain came in below the 7.7 percent increase posted in the first nine months.

“European automobile demand appears to have peaked,” analysts at Moody’s Investors Service, including Bruce Clark in New York, wrote in a report last week. “Manufacturers’ ambitious volume expectations for their new models will keep pricing pressure high and could result in discounts and incentives eroding profit margins and cash flows.”

Volkswagen’s nine-month European market share narrowed to 23.9 percent from 25 percent a year earlier, the lowest level for the period since 2011. The company was battered by negative publicity in September related to investor lawsuits and the resignation of the head of development at the Audi luxury brand amid legal investigations.

Renault SA, Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler AG and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV posted the region’s biggest sales gains in September, with increases of more than 14 percent.

In the U.K, which surpassed Germany as the biggest European market in September due to a semiannual license plate change that prompts a demand surge, registrations in the month rose 1.6 percent to 469,696 autos. While that’s the highest level ever for a September, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, slowing gains indicate that uncertainty tied to Brexit is weighing on buyers. Bloomberg

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