Europe's April car sales nosedives by 78.3%

By REUTERS | 19 May 2020

BERLIN: Europe's car sales have slumped in April due to the imposition of a full month-long restriction to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

In April, new car registrations dropped by 78.3% to 292,182 vehicles in the European Union, Britain and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries - according to statistics from the European Auto Industry Association (ACEA).

In all EU markets, sales recorded a double-digit fall with the hardest hit being Italy, the UK and Spain with drops of 97.6%, 97.3% and 96.5% respectively.

In Germany alone, new car registrations fell by 61.1% while France experienced an 88.8% reduction.

German carmaking giant - Volkswagen Group, saw a 75% fall in sales, with Renault and PSA Group (Peugeot) experiencing the same at 79.5% and 82.4% respectively.

Demand for luxury makes such as BMW posted a 69.7% sales drop in April alone while its rival Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) saw an 80.1% slump.

Although major European carmakers have begun mobilising their plants for partial production in May, low demand has pushed some, like Volkswagen, to temporarily pause production for some models.

Italy is currently the most affected with the country heavily relying on its automotive industry which provides a significant share of its economy.

The Italian-American automotive group - Fiat Chrysler has requested for a state-backed loan of 6.3bil euros (RM30bil) which it says is to help the country's automotive industry, comprised of approximately 10,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

The Covid-19 outbreak has slammed the brakes on demand for new vehicles, forcing the auto industry to burn through its cash reserves.

“The automotive industry certainly represents, together with related activities, a significant share of GDP, and it is right to support those who create employment in Italy. We are thinking about it," said Deputy Economy Minister Laura Castelli.