The newly created Stellantis conglomerate made its first appearance in European sales data in January, coming in with a Western Europe market share of 22.2%, just behind perennial market leader Volkswagen’s 24.4%, according to European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) data.

The overall market in Western Europe fell 25.5% in January compared with the same month of 2020, with 762,407 sales compared with 1,025,546. Western Europe includes all the five biggest markets – Germany, Britain, France, Spain and Italy.

Despite the shockingly poor month for sales, most forecasters expect a solid 2021. ACEA sees sales rising 10% this year over 2020 in the European Union (EU) although it worries about the semiconductor shortage. LMC Automotive expects a 13.3% rise in Western Europe, although this was lower than its forecast the previous month of a 15.4% improvement.

Not surprisingly there few positives amongst all the brands on sale in January with masses of minus signs. Volvo of Sweden, owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding of China, improved sales by 3.5% to 22,637, although there was no apparent reason why it should have been able to maintain steady sales while most other car maker notched up losses of about 25%. Earlier this month though it said it hoped to have a record sales year in 2021.

Porsche managed to raise its sales by 0.6% to 5,314, according to data published by ACEA, the association’s French language acronym.

Worst performer of the month was Mitsubishi, which is in the process of gradually pulling out of Europe with sales off 64.5% at 3,726. Maybe not so gradual. Honda, which is shutting down its British factory this year, saw its sales dive 53.9% to 3,182. Jaguar, which announced this week it will be all-electric by 2025, saw its sales plunge 52% to 2,005.

VW has a close competitor for the first time. Its brands – VW, Audi, Skoda, SEAT, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini – will face down Stellantis with – Peugeot, Citroen, Opel/Vauxhall, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Chrysler, DS. And Alfa Romeo, plus a couple of minnows. And speaking of minnows, Stellantis’s two premium wannabe brands DS – minus 45.4% at 2,653 and Alfa Romeo minus 47.9% 1,670 – suffered more than most.

ACEA, in a statement earlier this month said 2021 will mark a first step in the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, although the chip shortage is a concern.

“The fallout of COVID is expected to persist in the first quarter of 2021, but the EU car market should pick up in the second half of the year as vaccination programs progress,” ACEA said.

“Recent microchip shortages illustrate how disruptive a sudden interruption of crucial supplies can be to the industry, with its complex supply chains and a just-in-time business model that already is under a pressure because of Brexit,” ACEA said.

LMC Automotive expressed similar worries.

“We have lowered our outlook for 2021 since last month’s report as lockdowns aimed at suppressing the spread of COVID-19 apply even greater downward pressure on near-term sales than previously assumed. There is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of mass immunization, and we maintain the expectation that selling rates will improve from the summer onwards. However, the path of recovery hinges on the success of the vaccine roll-out; added to this forecast risk, the auto chip shortage presents a further potential brake to near-term sales,” LMC Automotive said.



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