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Auto Industry

German auto market crumbles in 2013, but carmakers shine on overseas demand

Low interests and huge discounts have failed to convince Germans to buy new cars this year. But despite the domestic sales slump, German carmakers plan to scrap year-end holidays to meet growing demand elsewhere.

Domestic car sales were expected to drop by 5 percent in 2013 to reach their lowest levels in three years, the German Automotive Industry Federation VDA said Tuesday.

Projected 2013 sales of about 2.93 million vehicles were unsatisfactory VDA President Matthias Wissmann said at the lobby group's annual news conference. He attributed the second consecutive annual decline to the eurozone crisis, which was still affecting German consumers.

Wissmann also noted, however, that the slow stabilization of the German market was continuing. Expressing confidence about 2014, Wissmann said new car sales would again surpass 3 million next year.

Surprisingly, the slump in their home market doesn't affect the sales of German carmakers. According to VDA figures, the country's auto manufacturers are expected to sell 14.2 million cars worldwide, of which about 5.5 million will be made in Germany.

The rise of 3.5 percent was caused by strong demand in overseas markets, notably those in the United States and China, VDA said. In 2014, German carmakers were expected to sell about 14.7 million vehicles, the group added.

Meanwhile, German luxury carmakers Audi and Daimler have announced plans to shorten end-of-year holidays for their workers and to introduce extra shifts to meet high demand. The Munich-based automaker BMW also announced that its factories were running at 120 percent capacity, and that additional shifts were likely to be introduced next year.

uhe/mkg (AFP, dpa)