European Car Sales Plummet as Continent Revisits Lockdown Protocols

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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european car sales plummet as continent revisits lockdown protocols

If you hadn’t already heard, Europe began taking actions to prepare itself for another pandemic-related lockdown. Last month, leadership in Germany and France noted that existing restrictions were “not enough anymore” and began issuing specific citizens “certificates” allowing them to move freely within the country. As you might have imagined, this didn’t exactly bolster automotive sales.

While most of the new restrictions were implemented at the tail end of October, they’ve foreshadowed additional measures introduced as more countries climbed aboard ( like the UK’s second banning of sex with people from outside of the household) and began signaling that automotive sales were about to be routed. Gains made in September look to be completely undone, with Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority stating new-car registrations fell by 3.6 percent in October (vs 2019) on Wednesday. But that’s only the beginning of the bad news.

According to a recent market analysis conducted by Bloomberg, sales in Spain dropped by at least 20 percent, with France seeing a 10-percent decline in volume. Italy also saw modest declines that are likely to worsen as lockdown measures continue. The end result saw Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean suggesting European car sales will drop by a full quarter this year, which is worse than previous estimates.

While the European Automobile Manufacturers Association won’t have the official numbers posted for almost two weeks, the prognosis is generally poor. State-funded loans and subsidies designed to spur EV adoption are assumed to soften the blow slightly but will be incapable of making a meaningful difference. The outlet has already signaled that it expects the end-of-year forecast to worsen as lockdowns continue.

From Bloomberg:

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a four-week partial lockdown, with non-essential shops including car dealerships to close from Thursday. France issued similar restrictions last week.

While dealerships remain open in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has imposed a partial shutdown and is urging citizens to stay at home whenever possible. Austria, Greece and Portugal also have expanded limits for November, while Italy is restricting opening hours of businesses.

The curveball comes as most automakers had actually planned to increase production through the rest of 2020. Unless they’re similarly mandated to go home and wait for the government to change its mind, they’ll be churning out vehicles many people won’t be able to purchase. This could again totally disrupt automotive supply and demand, especially if restrictive measures last through the whole of winter.

[Image: GLF Media/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Nov 05, 2020

    Yesterday I was bored so my staff and I performed a complete disassembly of a Formula One car and a NASCAR Cup Series car (both last year's models; my resources are not unlimited). Based on that analysis, we have concluded that Europe has nothing to offer the USA in terms of technology or best practices in any area of life.

  • RHD RHD on Nov 05, 2020

    At least Snopes is getting more work, weeding out the manipulative lies and disinformation from what is actually true. The problem is that so many people believe stupid crap, as long as it's aimed at who they perceive to be their "enemies". As an extension to that: Just think how stupid the average American is. Remember, half of them are even stupider than that! (Credit to George Carlin)

    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Nov 06, 2020

      @RHD - People don't search for the truth, they search to validate their beliefs. Critical thinking requires education and practice. It's quicker and easier to label something as the rhetoric of an enemy.

  • EBFlex Pretty awesome this thread is almost universally against this pile of garbage. Tesla really missed the mark.
  • FreedMike I suppose that in some crowded city like Rome or Tokyo, there's a market for a luxurious pint-size car. I don't think they'll be able to give them away here in the U.S.
  • TMA1 How much did exchange rates affect this decision? The Renegade is imported from Italy. I'm wondering if that's what caused the price to reach within a few hundred of the much bigger Compass. Kind of a no-brainer to pick the larger, more modern vehicle.
  • CEastwood Everytime I see one of these I think there's a dummie who could have bought a real car , but has to say look at me driving this cool thing I can't drive in the rain like an actual motorcycle that I should have bought in the first place ! It's not Batman I see driving these - it's middle age Fatman .
  • SilverCoupe I should be the potential audience for this (current A5 owner, considering an S5 in the future), but I can't say it excites me. I have never liked the vertical bars in the grilles of sporting Mercedes models, for one thing. The interior doesn't speak to me either.I would be more likely to consider a BMW 4 Series, though not the current version with the double Edsel grille. Still, I suppose it would be worth a look when the time comes to replace my current vehicle.