Car Sales Dive 80% in April, Negative Forecasts Race Past 25%.
“As lockdowns ease, April will be the low point, though there remain many difficult months ahead”
As car and SUV sales in Western Europe plummeted an almost unbelievable 80% in April, automotive forecasters seem to be leapfrogging each as they figure just how harsh a price will be paid in 2020 for the coronavirus crisis.
LMC Automotive is the latest consultancy to take a stab at the outcome for 2020, now saying Western Europe’s sales will fall 26.5% to 10.50 million.
It’s hard to believe, but just over 6 weeks ago forecasters were hoping that auto sales in Europe might slip only about 5% in 2020, but as the virus impact accelerated shutdowns, forecasters have been slashing numbers, and a 20% fall for Europe was a rough consensus a couple of weeks ago.
IHS Markit last Friday forecasted auto sales in Europe as a whole will dive 24.6% in 2020 to 15.5 million. Western Europe includes all the big markets like Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain, so the inclusion of the smaller satellite markets won’t make much difference to the overall health of sales.
LMC Automotive had some words of comfort.
“We anticipate that, as lockdowns ease, April will be the low point, though there remain many difficult months ahead, even as selling rates pick up through the year. Risks to the outlook remain high with wider challenges in the form of high unemployment and soaring government debt, as well as the potential for the rate of virus cases picking up as lockdowns are lifted,” LMC Automotive analyst Jonathon Poskitt said in a report.
“Upside market potential could come in the form of government support for the industry, as we saw with scrappage incentives during the Great Recession,” Poskitt said.
The report said April sales represented an annual selling rate of 2.8 million for the year, after the horrendous 52.9% drop in March.
French sales were off 88.8% in April, Germany’s 61.1%, Spain’s 96.5%, Italy 97.6% and the U.K. 97.3%.