Europe New-Car Registrations Soar 256% From Pandemic Low Point

Auto sales in Europe surged from the nadir reached during the initial Covid-19 outbreak, though demand still came up short of pre-pandemic levels.

New car-registrations soared 256% in April, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said Wednesday, though the year-ago figure was the lowest monthly figure since the lobby group began gathering data in 1990. Sales were about 14% below what the industry averaged for the month in the decade before the pandemic.

Europe New-Car Registrations Soar 256% From Pandemic Low Point

While deliveries also dropped on a sequential basis from a strong showing in March, the industry’s concerns largely have shifted from demand to production. The global semiconductor shortage is hampering virtually every major manufacturer, and auto and chip companies have begun to warn that supply could remain tight into next year.

“Visibility is still relatively limited,” Richard Palmer, the chief financial officer of Fiat and Peugeot maker Stellantis NV, said earlier this month. “It would be imprudent to assume that the issue is just going to go away.”

Volkswagen AG and Stellantis -- Europe’s two biggest automakers -- both expect the shortage to be more acute this quarter than in the first three months of the year. The consulting firm AlixPartners now estimates the supply crunch will cost the industry about $110 billion of revenue, almost double an earlier projection.

Chip issues aside, there are signs in Europe and elsewhere that carmakers stand to benefit as vaccinations accelerate and workers around the globe begin returning to offices. In the U.K. for example, motor vehicle use is returning to pre-pandemic levels well ahead of the recovery for public transportation.

Europe New-Car Registrations Soar 256% From Pandemic Low Point

Car registrations increased almost 33-fold in the U.K. last month, second only to the roughly 34-fold surge in Italy.

Through the first four months of the year, sales are up 68% in Italy, 51% in France, 16% in the U.K. and 7.8% in Germany.

Among major automakers, Stellantis has posted the biggest sales gain year-to-date at 33%.

Europe New-Car Registrations Soar 256% From Pandemic Low Point

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