ROVER OVERTAKES EURO RIVALS
By David Benson
Rover Group was the only volume car maker in Europe to increase sales last year and the company moved ahead of Mercedes-Benz in the list of the top ten car manufacturers. Rover sales were up Europe-wide by 7.9 per cent from 332,400 in 1992 to 358,600 in 1993, while Mercedes sales dropped from 410,700 in 1992 to 351,200 last year.
Britain was the only country in Europe to show an increase in sales in 1992 with an 11.6 per cent improvement on the previous year to 1,778,100, making il the third largest car market in the European Union. Elsewhere it was the most disastrous year for the European’ motor industry since the Second World War. New car sales in Europe fell by 15.2 per cent to 11,450,400, down more than two million units on the 1992 figure of 13,503,200.
Biggest drop in sales was in Greece (down 27.7 per cent) followed by Spain. Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. The severity of the fall in sales left many industry observers shaken. John Lawson. head of automotive research at DRI/Europe in London, said: “We have never seen a drop like this – no one had forecast it.”
He claimed that while Italy and Germany had been expected to be black spots last year, recovery had been anticipated in Spanish and French markets. Volkswagen remained the largest car manufacturer, selling 1,851,900 units – nearly 200,000 fewer than the 2,249,900 sold in 1992.