Automotive industry: Europe sets out again but in different phases

Even if the aftermath of lockdowns still shows many consequences (one number above all: in the Eurozone, the economy is expected to decline by 8.7% in 2020), for some of Europe’s key markets the latest registration figures suggest hope that the automotive industry has started its recovery phase. After two months of ‘Phase 2’ we can now see how the markets in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the UK have started to recover, although – looking ahead – the year is expected to close in great distress: sales in Europe are expected to fall some 30%. The incentive systems will be crucial for the purchasing process of new vehicles, and not only regarding green mobility drawn by the various national governments.

Italy: incentives for hybrid and electric also extended to Euro 6 compliant

In Italy, despite the gradual easing of restrictive measures, there is still a double-digit decline in the automotive market. According to data released by the Ministero delle Infrastrutture e dei Trasporti, 132,147 units were registered in June, or 23.1% less than in the same month of 2019. In the first half of 2020 the market dropped 46.1% – volumes almost halved – with 583,960 registrations. In this scenario we have included the new incentives, effective from August 1st, 2020 which, in case of scrapping, can reach up to 10,000€ for electric cars and up to 6,500€ for hybrid ones. Ruling out scrapping, the bonus drops to 6,000€ and 3,500€ respectively. In addition to low CO2 emission models, the new measures also include subsidies for Euro 6 petrol and diesel cars with the aim to reduce stock, left unsold due to the pandemic. Specifically, a contribution of 3,500€ with scrapping is foreseen for the purchase of a car with a price of up to 40,000€ and CO2 emissions between 61 g/km and 110 g/km.

Rising car market in France

After months, France is showing a new car registrations increase and the car market is showing positive signs. With the easing of restrictions in May, dealerships have reopened their doors to customers in the hope that the new normality will allow the car market to restart. According to data released by the Comité des Constructeurs Francais d’Automobiles (CCFA), total vehicle sales in June amounted to 233,820 units, up 1.2% compared to the same month last year. A result that shows the first signs of recovery for the car market, also considering the recent months of lockdown and the forced closure of showrooms. In France, sales dropped by 72% in April and 50.3% in May. On the other hand, since June 1, demand has started to recover thanks to the 8 billion euro set of measures approved by the government of Macron, which includes a bonus of up to 7,000€ for the purchase of electric cars within the price limit of 45,000€. In case of scrapping, the bonus for e-car can increase to a further 5,000€ (reaching 12,000€), while those who buy a plug-in hybrid with at least 50 kilometers of autonomy at zero emissions will benefit from a bonus of 2,000€.

Spain: support plan to renew country’s car fleet

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact the demand for new cars in Spain for the month of June. A period in which in past years the car market enjoyed positive trends as rental operators began to prepare for the summer season by strengthening the fleet with new cars. According to data provided by the Asociación Española de Fabricantes de Automóviles y Camiones (ANFAC), 82,651 cars were registered in June 2020, 36.7% lower than June 2019. A market that still shows negative signs despite data improving compared to previous months. With the aim of increasing demand and supporting the entire industry, the Spanish government has introduced an aid scheme worth a total of 3.7 billion euros. In detail, depending on the level of vehicle emissions and the type of owner (private or self-employed), the incentive varies from 400€ to 4,000€, to which further discount must be added from the seller. For the purchase of plug-in electric and hybrid cars with more than 40 kilometers of autonomy in EV mode the discount will be 1,000€. The measures of the Government aim to renew the country’s car fleet, which in Spain has an average age of 12.7 years, therefore in order to take advantage of the new support plan it is necessary to scrap a car with at least 10 years of life.

New incentives for electric cars in Germany

If the German economy shows a slow recovery, the numbers in the post-pandemic automotive sector are still negative. Despite the 220,272 new car registrations registered in June, the German market shrank by 35% in the first half of 2020 and it is estimated a 25% drop in sales in 2020. In addition to France, Italy and Spain, Germany has also launched its plan to support the four-wheeler industry in the post coronavirus. In detail, the government has provided a bonus of up to 6,000€ for the purchase of electric cars with figures not exceeding a 40,000€ price-tag to which, in addition, up to 3,000€ incentives are added by manufacturers. The only positive figures in the German car sector come from the sale of zero-emission cars: in June alone, 8,119 electric cars were registered compared to 5,578 in May.

UK to set green number plates for electric cars

With the gradual opening of dealerships in June, the UK was one of the last European markets to allow customers to return to showrooms. After more than two months hault, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders disclosed that 145,377 cars were registered in June, a 34.9% drop from 2019.

In order to encourage the resume of the car industry and to persuade motorists to switch from a diesel or petrol car to an environmentally friendly model, the Government is considering incentives of up to £6,000. In the UK, in addition, battery-powered cars will run with a special green banded number plate by the end of 2020. An initiative launched to draw attention to sustainable mobility in the hope of promoting a shift to zero-emission cars. The new plates, more recognisable even by local authorities, are also designed to offer a range of benefits, from cheaper parking to access to restricted traffic zones.

The encouraging figures of the French car market, supported by government measures, are a hopeful sign also for other European countries which, in recent weeks, have launched a series of incentives to revive the sector. It is our belief that there are still many efforts to be made to return to normal, but we are seeing timid signs of recovery.