West European car registrations fell by 80.0% year‐on‐year (YoY) in April, while the regional selling rate dropped to just 2.8 mn units/year, an even more cataclysmic drop than the previously unprecedented 52.9% fall in March. The spread of COVID‐19, and the associated lockdowns, is currently an overwhelming force in the region, with widespread closures of plants and dealerships alike having a profound impact on automotive industry volumes.
French registrations for the month were down 88.8%, with the monthly selling rate diminished to just 235k units/year. In Germany, sales contracted by 61.1%, to 120k units for April as a whole, a more cushioned fall than other major economies. Spanish car registrations fell to just over 4k units for the month, an unprecedented drop of 96.5%. In the UK, the situation was similarly severe, with sales collapsing 97.3%, again to around 4k units. Finally, Italian sales fell by 97.6% YoY, with a selling rate of just 47k units/year.
For the second consecutive month, the impact of the COVID‐19 coronavirus has dwarfed all other concerns in the West European auto market. We assume improving, though weak, selling rates over the remainder of the year from where we currently are. From last month’s report, we have lowered the 2020 growth forecast to ‐26.5%, a reflection of the magnitude of the coronavirus disruption to the auto sector specifically, and the economy more broadly.