The Nikkei writes that Daihatsu Motor Co.’s withdrawal from new-vehicle sales in Europe and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s decision to cut stop producing the Colt subcompact there highlight the a downsizing trend in Europe for Japanese carmakers as the new-vehicle market there shrinks. The EU market for new passenger cars declined by 5.5% in 2010, with a total of 13,360,599 new units registered throughout the year, according to figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers’s Association (ACEA). (Earlier post.)
Daihatsu announced on Friday that it will discontinue auto sales in Europe on 31 Jan. 2013, though it will continue after-service operations in the market.
Mitsubishi and Daihatsu are not alone in struggling in Europe. Toyota Motor Corp. shut one of two production lines at a UK factory last August, shifting its focus to emerging markets. Toyota estimates that its European sales likely dropped 10% on the year to about 800,000 units in 2010. Honda Motor Co.’s (7267) sales in the region plunged 25.1% on the year to some 173,000 units for the January-November period.
In Germany, the largest car market in Europe, new-vehicle sales tumbled 23% to about 2.91 million units last year, the first drop below 3 million in 21 years. The government ended its subsidies for replacing old cars in September 2009. Such incentives also expired in Italy and elsewhere. With European governments carrying out austerity measures, the auto sales slump is expected to continue. The European Union will tighten carbon dioxide emission rules from 2012, with a goal of curbing exhaust on new vehicles to an average 130 grams per kilometer by 2015. “Many challenges lie ahead for this goal to be achieved,” says a senior official at Mazda Motor Corp.