Slide Of New Auto Sales In Europe Slows With Full Year Forecasts Looking Less Dire

New car and SUV sales in the European Union (EU) fell 18.9% in August compared with the same month last year, bringing the fall for the first 8 months of 2020 to 32% or 6.1 million, but forecasters see seeds of recovery and for the full year the slide will be arrested with a fall of “only” close to 20%.

But there are worries the recovery might be stopped in its tracks by a second wave of the coronavirus.

Data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, known by its French acronym ACEA (www.acea.be), showed EU sales in August totalled 769,525.

BMW, Kia have positive sales

Looking at the sales returns for the big carmakers in Western Europe there is a huge majority of minus signs, with the exception of BMW, while sold 6.8% more vehicles across its brands in August at 59,390, while South Korea’s Kia raised its sales 20.6% to 30,718. All other manufacturers had negative performances. For the 8 months, Groupe PSA’s Opel and Vauxhall brands were the standout losers with a negative 49.9% to 273,854, closely followed by Jaguar – down 48.1% at 25,969 and Alfa Romeo off 45.9% at 19,018. Western Europe includes the 5 biggest markets of Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain. Tesla doesn’t reveal its data to ACEA.

Forecaster LMC Automotive said the Western European market is slowly recovering from the impact of the coronavirus, with government subsidies boosting sales as economies reopen after lockdowns.

“The figures serve to emphasise the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the market, demonstrating that there is no way for the industry to escape this year without a serious sales deficit. Consumer confidence, while improved from earlier in the year, remains low, ensuring that government incentive schemes will continue to be a key factor in shaping recovery across the region throughout H2 2020,” LMC said.

“However, the serious downside risk of further COVID-19 outbreaks, and the associated lockdown measures, is as present as ever,” LMC said in a report.

LMC forecasts sales in Western Europe will fall 23.4% for the whole year to 10.95 million.

Fitch Solutions has a slightly more bullish forecast but is worried about a possible second-wave impact from the coronavirus. Electric car sales will be a bonus

Watch out for 2nd wave

“We forecast total vehicle sales in Europe to decline 19.9% in 2020 which is unchanged from the previous quarter. However, we do highlight that downside risks persist from a second wave of Covid-19 cases, particularly in the core Western European markets. These persistent risks mean that we forecast growth of 4.7% in 2021, which is relatively modest given the extent of the decline we expect in 2020,” Fitch Solutions said in a report.

“We also expect to see any positive effects from scrappage schemes and other incentives dwindling by 2021. There are some bright spots, however, as we see some of these incentive schemes accelerating electric vehicle sales in the markets in question,” Fitch Solutions said.

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