European brands gobble more U.S. market share
Europe's auto sales are in the pits, but European brands are going gangbusters in the United States. They achieved a one-month record of 11.1 percent of the market in October, up from 10.3 percent last year.
The Europeans' combined share was 9.6 percent through October, up from 9.2 percent in the same period last year.
Most of that 2012 gain can be traced to Volkswagen-Audi. With sales of the U.S.-built Passat as the main driver, VW brand sales have soared 36 percent this year in a U.S. market up 14 percent. Audi sales have jumped 18 percent this year.
Mercedes-Benz and BMW have been short on inventory this year, and have done no better than keep pace with the overall U.S. market. But the German luxury rivals figure to add to Europe's share growth in the final two months of 2012.
Not only are they both diverting inventory to the United States from Europe and China, where demand also has fallen off, they are entering the home stretch in their annual U.S. luxury sales battle.
And quite a slugfest it is expected to be. Leaders of some of the biggest dealership groups say the two luxury brands now have plenty of inventory. That should lead to bigger incentives and more intense competition than usual during November and December.