LMC Automotive European Passenger Car Sales Update (April 2021)

2021/05/07

Summary

  • The West European selling rate dropped slightly to 11.1 mn units/year in April, another lacklustre result that is a symptom of the continued downward pressure from COVID‐19 related restrictions. The weak position of the regional market is emphasised by the fact that last month’s registrations fell 23% short of the results seen during a more ‘normal’ April in 2019.

  • German registrations disappointed last month as the selling rate dipped down to 2.6 mn units/year. In the UK, the selling rate increased to 2.1 mn units/year as step two of the four step roadmap out of lockdown was achieved. In Italy, the selling rate remained flat at 1.6 mn units/year, while in France the selling rate fell to 1.6 mn units/year — the lowest level since May 2020. Spanish registrations saw a modest uptick as the selling rate rose to nearly 900k units/year, though last month’s result was still some way off the 2019 pace of 1.26 mn units.

  • While vaccine progress is being made and consumer confidence has continued to improve, varying degrees of restrictions across the region are currently acting as a brake on demand. Aside of virus‐related downward pressure on activity, the enduring auto chip shortage threatens to disrupt the baseline forecast as the supply of certain vehicles is restricted. Nonetheless, our outlook for this year remains mostly in line with last month; that is, an expectation of selling rates seeing a gradual improvement through 2021, as mass immunisation leads to sustained easing of restrictions.