Europe’s troubled auto industry could fuel U.S. aftermarket

Oct 2, 2012

After the Paris auto show the week of Sept. 24, auto executives in Europe predicted more trouble ahead for the continent’s auto industry.

Several executives said the somber atmosphere reminded them of the 2009 Detroit auto show, with the industry rolling out new models even though it was aware that it faced a miserable year ahead. So reported by Dave Guilford of Automotive News.

“The European car market is a disaster,” said Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. “It has plunged off a precipice that doesn’t seem to have bottomed out yet. The prospects are anything but rosy. “According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), European sales were down 7% through August. Susan Docherty, head of Chevrolet in Europe, said the existence of large automaker incentives that are anywhere from 20 to 30% is a bad sign. And the fact that previously healthy automakers took a hit in August makes prospects for the future discouraging.

Colin Dodge, Nissan Americas chairman, said the heavy discounting this summer in the United States is the most intense he’s seen since late 2008. Discounting diminished in September, but the lack of cut-rate deals is bringing down industry sales volume in Europe, he said.

Dodge forecasted that demand won’t grow in Europe for “several years.”

Added Carlos Tavares, COO of Renault-Nissan: “We can’t see the beginning of the beginning of a rebound.”

But could this period of darkness for Europe’s market be a new sales dawn for U.S. automobile aftermarket industry?

As increased desperation for sales encourages European carmakers to find new buyers, they could likely turn to the recovering U.S. auto industry to export their vehicles. If the U.S. experiences a surge of exports from automakers across the Atlantic, price wars could emerge among U.S.-based and overseas manufacturers, which could mean consumers could see significant price breaks for mid-sized and luxury light vehicles.

As a result, what consumers save on new, imported vehicles from Volkswagen, Fiat and other European makers might give them an incentive to invest in aftermarket accessories, fueling a rise in business restylers might want to prepare for in the months ahead.