Five nuggets we unearthed in the car makers’ H1 2015 results

Published: 30 July 2015

► A round-up of key financial results
► First-half 2015 under the microscope
► PSA turns a profit, VW becomes no.1

With many car makers posting first-half announcements this week, we’ve raked over the news and trends to fillet the key events this week. Here are five nuggets that made us look twice.

1) PSA moves to profit, surprises analysts

PSA Peugeot Citroen posted its first profit for four years this week, as it recorded a €571 million net income in the first half of 2015, reversing a €114m loss the previous year. Revenues were up, costs were cut and sales of higher-priced vehicles boosted earnings, the company said. New CEO Carlos Tavares is clearly working magic at the French company, but warns that conditions were favourable this year and that tougher times lie ahead. Still, analysts were stunned by PSA’s 5% margin in its car-making business. ‘For those who slog and toil for a living in the European mass market, they would place it alongside splitting the atom, walking on the moon and mapping the human genome as a pinnacle of human endeavour,’ enthused Max Warburton on Bernstein Research, who switched their stock rating to ‘outperform’.

2) VW is the world’s biggest car maker!

Volkswagen overtook Toyota to become the world’s largest manufacturer in the first half of 2015, selling 5.04m vehicles, just shading the Japanese maker’s 5.02m. It means that VW has fulfilled its mission to become the world’s no.1 by 2018 – three years early. GM used to be the world’s biggest until 2008, when it was surpassed by Toyota which has stayed at no.1 ever since (bar the year of the tsunami).

3) Ford announced its best quarter for 15 years

Rising demand for pick-up trucks in the home US market took Ford to new highs, as its pre-tax profits jumped 10% to $2.9 billion in the quarter – and CEO Mark Fields predicted the second half would be even stronger as production of the new F150 kicked in. Not so rosy in Europe, however, as the Blue Oval posted a loss over here.

4) China’s car market has put the brakes on

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn warned that there were serious ‘uncertainties’ in China and the company expects sales to fall from 2014’s 3.7m. It was a message repeated at car makers around the world, and Ford too forecast a slump in sales in the region. If accurate, this could be the first annual decline in China since 1990, reported the FT. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers warns that sales in June 2015 were 3.4% than a year before. 

5) Audi and Porsche contribute two-thirds of VW’s profits

Some revealing stats lurk within the VW group’s first-half results: two of its premium brands deliver more than two-thirds of its earnings. Audi’s operating profit jumped 7% to €2.9 billion while Porsche’s soared by 21% to €1.7bn, boosted by the new Macan selling like hot cakes. Makes Wolfsburg’s portfolio management look more inspired…

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet