Europe's automobile sales plunge as countries impose coronavirus lockdown
European car sales fell last month as countries reimposed restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19, snuffing out a short-lived recovery in demand.
New-car registrations dropped 7.1% in October, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said Wednesday. Aside from a small gain in September, sales have been in decline all year and are down 27% through the first 10 months.
France and the UK locked down late last month and in early November, shutting car showrooms and pressuring sales further. Germany has pledged 5 billion Euros ($5.9 billion) of support to its automakers and struggling suppliers to help weather the crisis and come out the other side making more electric vehicles.
Registrations were slightly worse than Bloomberg Intelligence’s projection for a roughly 6% decline. Sales probably will fall about 5% this quarter and finish the year down at least 25%, analyst Michael Dean wrote in a report Tuesday.
Peugeot maker PSA Group has cut production at several French factories after the nation’s lockdown forced dealerships to close and led to a collapse in orders. The lobby group La Plateforme Automobile warned earlier this month that if showrooms can’t reopen quickly, the industry faces even worse consequences than this spring.
Spain registered the biggest decline among major markets with a 21% plunge in October. Sales fell 12% for BMW AG and more than 7% for both Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Renault SA posted small gains.
Electric vehicles have been a bright spot within the region’s malaise. BI predicts that hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-powered autos will exceed sales of diesel cars this quarter for the first time. Germany’s industry support package announced Tuesday includes making an additional 1 billion euros available for EV subsidies and extending their availability to 2025.