THE VIEW FROM FRANKFURT

  16 September 2013

While the Frankfurt Motor Show may seem far distanced from everyday showroom sales, particularly in busy September, it provides a great opportunity to gauge the European and the UK outlook for the motor industry simply because there are so many manufacturer executives on hand to talk to.

The consensus for Europe (link to World news) was that although the market’s down about 6%, (or if you take out the UK, then the figure’s 10%), the outlook isn’t that bad.

Most manufacturers are pressing ahead with new models rather than cutting back. And they also believe that while there’s unlikely to be a significant recovery anytime soon, they are sure that things won’t get any worse in the next couple or years.

Oddly, this outlook for a flat market is reflected in their predictions for the UK.

Everyone I spoke to all (still) thought a 2.4 million car market was unsustainable and unlikely in the short-term. Given we’re looking like registering at least 2.2m cars this year that would imply next year isn’t going to see much improvement.

But speak to these execs in detail and a recurring theme emerges. Yes, they don’t expect overall growth, but they also are supremely confident that some segments of the market will grow. And this will (obviously) be at the expense of other segments.

If they’re right, then let’s hope next year’s targets reflect this.

Tristan Young

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