New car sales in Europe continue to decline. The problem is the continuing shortage of spare parts due to the disruption of the global supply chain. In May, registrations in the UK fell by almost 21%. With the exception of the 2020 restrictions, according to the British industry association SMMT, this is the second weakest monthly performance in the last 30 years. Result: The British market remains 32.3% below pre-crisis levels. In contrast, sales of electric cars jumped by almost 18%.
Revival of domestic production in Germany
The same sales profile in Germany and France, although the decline is less pronounced. Beyond the Rhine, the market for new car sales fell by 10.2%, but domestic production rebounded by 25%. According to the Federal Automobile Agency, a total of 207,199 new cars were registered. As a reminder, the decline was 21.5% in April and 17.5% in March. The result: with 1 million units sold in the first five months of the year, the German market fell by 9% compared to the same period in 2021 and by 33% compared to 2019. Hopes for this key sector of the German economy: two more workers contributed to the recovery of production days. However, production in the first five months of the year remained 34% below pre-crisis levels in 2019. Only sales of electric cars increased by 8.9%, representing 14.1% of new registrations, while sales of petrol and diesel models fell more than the market.
In France, new car sales fell 10% again in May for the twelfth month in a row. The sector recorded 126,813 registrations, a decrease of 10.09% in one year despite two more days of activity. While spring is set to be a strong time for car sales, “the results are not good at all. The shortage of semiconductors continues to slow down deliveries,” commented François Roudier of the Automotive Platform, which brings together builders.
In the first five months of 2022, the market fell by 16.92% with 600,897 registrations. Sales of light commercial vehicles also fell by almost 25% to 147,161 registrations from January to May. This context benefits hybrid and rechargeable hybrid engines, which account for 28.6% of sales in the first five months of the year, and electric cars (11.9%).
The trend is completely different for two-wheelers. Sales of motorcycles and scooters accelerated further in the first quarter, the European Motorcycle Manufacturers’ Association (ACEM) said in mid-May. Two-wheeler registrations in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom increased by 14.6% year-on-year, surpassing pre-pandemic sales figures for the first quarter of 2019, reaching 226,793 units. The two-wheeler market thus continued to grow, while the car market fell sharply to less than two million units on the same scale.
Scooters also grew by 3.5% in six major European markets (France, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain) and reached 57,755 units. However, France and the Netherlands, the two main markets on the continent, have suffered a slight decline. Electric models continued to grow, selling 8,936 motorcycles and 19,045 battery scooters.
“Two-wheeler registrations remained solid in major European markets in the first quarter, despite logistical and industrial problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Antonio Perlot, ACEM Secretary General.
However, preliminary data for April show a “slight slowdown in some markets,” Antonio Perlot emphasized, “associated with semiconductor shortages and delivery delays, which affects the availability of certain models.”
“Sales for the next few months may be affected, either up or down, by factors such as the rise in gasoline prices or the economic situation in Europe,” while spring and early summer are peaks in two-wheeler sales.