Aquarter century ago, Volkswagen brand emerged from a dead heat with General Motors' Opel to become the hands-down market leader in Europe. Also left in the dust were Ford, Fiat, Renault and Peugeot.
Now, industry watchers the world over are waiting to see whether the diesel scandal will cut into the VW Group's lofty position on its home continent. Early indications? Interesting, very interesting.
New-vehicle sales in Europe grew 14 percent in November over the same month last year, with Ford, Opel and Fiat Chrysler all gaining and outpacing the market. But VW Group sales rose just 4.2 percent as the test-rigging scandal hit its showroom traffic.
The core VW brand's share tumbled to 12.2 percent from 13.5 percent, as sales edged just 3.1 percent higher. Skoda's volume increased by 11 percent, while Porsche's sales rose by 4.9 percent, and Audi's increased 4.1 percent. Seat, VW's Spanish brand, fell by 2.5 percent.
"We are only just starting to see the real impact" of the emissions scandal, as current deliveries reflect orders placed as long as three months beforehand, said Carlos Da Silva, manager for European vehicle sales forecasts at IHS Automotive.
Meanwhile, Ford of Europe had its best November since 2009 with volume up by 21 percent. Helped by the new Astra, Opel/Vauxhall rose 19 percent. Fiat Chrysler's volume was up 18 percent, driven by a 50 percent gain for the Jeep brand and a 20 percent gain for the Fiat brand.