It has been a difficult year for sales most dealer groups would admit. But I tell you one thing that has started selling like hot cakes recently, VW dealerships. Look at the announcements in the past quarter, first Inchcape sold some of its VW sites to Group 1, selling two more this week to Citygate. Last month Sytner sold four sites to Johnson cars in the North West and finally this week’s Marshalls bought seven sites from Jardines.
This is quite a realignment of the VW network, concentrating ownership into a smaller number of trusted groups. In the light of the franchises acknowledged WLTP delivery issues, it also shows great faith by the new owners, who are presumably expecting much better things for 2020.
This was not the only reason that VW was in the news this week. 90,000 VW owners in the UK have got together to sue the German carmaker over the emissions scandal. Recent history of such legal actions in the US suggest that payouts could be quite large, although German consumers did rather worse, picking up only around €900 an owner. So far the company has paid more than £26 billion in fines, as well as recall costs and other settlements. On the plus side, it has enjoyed probably its strongest two years for some time since 2017.
Whether it will continue to do so is largely up to the global automotive market. A market that the Financial Times reported was shrinking at an alarming rate. In fact according to the VDA, the German industry association, the global market has shrunk faster than it did in 2008, with year-on-year sales down by 4 million units. That is about 5% down on global sales of just over 80 million vehicles.
Still, losing manufacturing won’t affect us much in the UK after Brexit. The future already looks very uncertain anyway. Whereas Germany employs nearly 900,000 people in car manufacturing alone.
Have a great weekend, make sure you know where to find your polling card for next week.
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