ACEA: COVID, buyer confidence strike E.U.’s 2020 passenger vehicle registrations

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New passenger automobile registrations in the European Union fell by almost a quarter in 2020, due directly to the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said.

“Indeed, containment measures – including full‐scale lockdowns and other restrictions throughout the year – had an unprecedented impact on car sales across the European Union,” the Brussels-based organization said Jan. 19.

European automobile registrations plunge

Registrations in the 27-member bloc fell to 9.94 million units from January to December. The total marked a 23.7% decline from slightly over 13 million in 2019, the ACEA noted.

The E.U.’s largest economy, Germany, recorded a 19.1% decline in registrations to 2.92 millions from 3.61 million.

Spain, another major auto market in Europe, reported 851,211 automobile registrations. The country’s registrations fell by a third from 1.26 million, ACEA noted.

Meanwhile, Croatia and Bulgaria saw the largest decreases in new automobile registrations over 2020. Registrations in the two countries fell by 42.8% and 36.8%, respectively.

The automotive industry is one of steel’s largest end-users in flat rolled steel products, including cold rolled coil, hot-dipped galvanized sheet as well as painted sheet.

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Lockdowns, supply chain challenges, consumer confidence impact totals

Lockdowns and difficulties in supply chains for certain components may have impacted registrations.

However, buyer confidence in the pandemic also played a large role in the sharp decreases, one analyst told MetalMiner.

“Nobody is buying, because they don’t know if they will have a job tomorrow or not,” the analyst added.

Many auto producers within Europe also halted production in March and April. Those producers only restarted operations in May or later, the analyst noted.

December also saw a decrease against the same time in 2019 at 1.03 million new registrations. The total marked a 3.3% year-over-year drop from almost 1.07 million. Increases in some countries helped to offset that decrease.

Registrations in Germany were up 9.9% to 311,394 automobiles from 283,380, ACEA noted.

Spain’s registrations were practically unchanged year over year at 105,841 new registrations from 105,854.

An increase of more than 168% rise in new registrations within the Republic of Ireland also helped to offset the December decline, ACEA figures indicated.

Actual registrations within that E.U. member state totaled only 601 passenger cars, however, from 224 in December 2019.

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