Dutch car dealers face turnover loss

03/03/2009 15:00

Dutch car dealers faced a turnover loss of 4.5 percent in 2008. Last year, disappointing sales figures were recorded and the trend continued into the first month of 2009, although 2 percent more cars were sold to private owners in 2008 than in the previous year. Only small and fuel-efficient cars were more popular.

Passenger car sales

Passenger car sales

Turnover loss 11 percent in fourth quarter of 2008

In the first quarter of 2008, turnover shrank by nearly percent, but mounted up to 11 percent in the fourth quarter. The last time, a quarterly turnover loss of this magnitude was recorded was in the fourth quarter of 2003. 

Over 1 percent fewer cars sold last year

In 2008, sales of new and used cars dropped by more than 1 percent relative to one year previously. Averaged out over the whole year, sales of new passenger cars were still more than 2 percent higher in 2008, but new-car sales collapsed during the fourth quarter. Sales of new cars dropped by no less than 15 percent relative to one year ago. Sales of company cars have slumped since the second quarter.  

The negative trend continued in January 2009. In January, sales of new cars were also 15 percent below the level of twelve months ago. Traditionally, January is the month in which car sales peak.

New cars sold by type of owner

New cars sold by type of owner

Small and fuel-efficient cars very popular

Consumers bought considerably more small cars in 2008. The share of small-sized cars in total new-car sales to private buyers rose from 49 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2008. Small cars are usually also more fuel-efficient.

Sales of new, fuel-efficient cars indeed rose substantially last year, partly due to a tax incentive scheme and the guzzler tax. Four in every ten passenger cars sold last year carried an energy label A or B, an increase by more than 80 percent relative to 2007. Sales of less fuel-efficient car models dropped by a quarter last year.

New cars sold by type of energy label

New cars sold by type of energy label

New cars cheaper

For the First time in 10 years, new cars became cheaper. In 2008, prices were nearly 1 percent down on 2007. Since 1999, used cars have become cheaper each year, but in 2008 prices dropped at an unprecedented rate. Prices of used cars fell by nearly 5 percent last year. Due to the slackening demand for used cars in the fourth quarter, prices even dropped further by nearly 7 percent.

Prices passenger cars

Prices passenger cars

Astrid Dohmen and Paul Ras