Still, sales recovery in Romania is expected to be long-drawn-out, thanks to two years of recession resulting in elevated unemployment levels and stymied wage growth in the face of high inflation, according to Romania Autos Report Q3 2012 published by Business Monitor International (BMI). Furthermore, with external credit much less readily available, retail lending in the Romanian economy practically stalled in the wake of the global financial crisis. Consumer spending on big-ticket items therefore remains very cautious as is evident from a massive 13.6% y-o-y decline in new passenger car sales during 2011, according to estimates from ACEA.
During the first nine months of 2012, the domestic passenger car sales registered a total decrease by 30.7% compared to 2011, to 14,208 units, while the imported passenger car sales registered a total decrease by 19.1%, when compared to 2011, to 39,374 units1. Total passenger car sales during this period reached 53,582 units, lower by 22.5% compared to the corresponding period from 2011.
The domestic demand in the Romanian auto market continues to be dominated by Dacia although there is increasing participation from other international brands and growth in the country's used car market. Dacia Logan occupied the leader position in the top of passenger cars sales by model, at the end of September 2012, with a total sales volume of 7,107 units, significantly higher than the second place occupied by Dacia Duster, with a total sales volume of 3,994 units. The following positions are occupied by Skoda Octavia (2,611 units), Renault Clio (1,834 units), Dacia Logan MCV (1,571 units) and Volkswagen Golf (1,438 units).
On the other hand, sales of light commercial vehicles (LCV) (and minibus sales) did not fluctuate significantly during the first nine months of 2012 compared to prior year: sales of domestic LCVs registered a total decrease by 4.4%, to 1,800 units, while the imported LCVs sales registered a total decrease by only 0.4%, to 6,760 units. Total LCV sales during the first nine months of 2012 were 8,560 units, lower by only 1.2% compared to the corresponding period from 2011. The segmentation by type of fuel of sales of new vehicles during the first nine months of 2012 shows a 49.8% - 50.2% split between gasoline and diesel, compared to a 60.2% - 39.8% corresponding split in 2011.
The automotive market continues therefore the decrease started during years 2008-2009. While total sales of new vehicles during 2011 were 106,617 units (passenger cars, LCVs and minibus sales), the estimation for current year sales is only around 92,000 new vehicles, according to APIA. However, based on the trend of actual sales during the first nine months of the year, the actual results may be lower at year end. The main causes for the decrease of the auto market are the late launch of the Program for encouraging the renewal of national auto park (Rabla), but also the reduced buying power and the increased imports of second-hand vehicles during the last years. Although Rabla Program continues to have a positive impact on sales, the program is below market expectations.
For Rabla Program 2012, the Environment Fund Administration allocated a budget of RON 114 million, which allows scrappage of 30,000 vehicles older than 10 years. This translates into sales of only 10,000 new vehicles (for acquisition of a new vehicle can be used maximum 3 vouchers), representing a quarter of the sales made through this program. As in 2010 and 2011, the value of the scrappage premium is RON 3,800, being the nominal value of one voucher. A number of 25,964 vehicles older than 10 years were scrapped through the initial phase of Rabla Program 2012 that started on 5 April 2012, and a number of 8,006 new vehicles were acquired, out of which 3,661 from domestic production. A second phase of Rabla Program 2012 was launched on 8 August 2012, for which the Environment Fund Administration allocated a budget of RON 57 million, allowing the scrappage of additional 15,000 vehicles older than 10 years. Still, total sales of new vehicles during the first nine months of 2012 through this program are significantly lower compared to the same period in 2011.