NewsWorldIn Europe, auto sales plunge due to chip shortages

In Europe, auto sales plunge due to chip shortages

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The Covid-19 crisis continues to upset the automotive sector, which recorded a new downward record for the year 2021. In question, the shortages of electronic chips.

The hoped-for recovery did not take place in the automotive sector. New car sales in Europe hit a fresh record low in 2021, held back by the health crisis and shortages of electronic chips that have prevented the production of millions of cars.

Last year, 9.7 million vehicles were sold in the European Union, according to data published on Tuesday 18 January by manufacturers: this is the lowest figure recorded since the start of the statistical series in 1990, lower than 2013 and 1993, already dark years for the automotive industry.

With a sixth consecutive month of decline in December, sales even fell by 2.4% in Europe compared to the year 2020, paralyzed by the Covid-19.

And the storm is concentrated in Europe. In the East, the Chinese market recovered (+4.4%), while in the West the American market picked up slightly (+3.7%).

Diving in Germany

“This fall is the consequence of the shortage of semiconductors which has slowed down automobile production throughout the year, and more particularly in the second half of the year”, explained, in a press release, the association of European manufacturers (ACEA).

The year 2021 was marked in particular in Europe by the fall of Germany, its largest market, which recorded one of the largest declines with a plunge of 10.1% over one year and 2.6 million vehicles sold.

After a 2020 marked by factory closures and health restrictions, the German automotive sector had experienced a sustained recovery in early 2021. But the market quickly faced bottlenecks in global markets: chip shortages electronics, essential for car assembly, and logistical problems have dampened hopes of a lasting recovery.

Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark also posted sharp declines. France remained stable (+0.5%) but at its lowest, with 1.66 million units sold in 2021, i.e. a level close to 1975.

Spain, which had been one of the hardest hit countries in 2020, remains at its lowest (+1%). Italy, also hard hit in 2020, posted a slight recovery in 2021 (+5.5%).

The bet of the electric

The leading manufacturers of the market are feeling the blow: the No. 1 Volkswagen fell by 4.8% with 2.4 million cars sold. The group’s main brand fell by 6.7%, Skoda by 9.8% and Audi by 3.3%, while Porsche and Seat rebounded.

Now firmly established at the foot of the podium, Hyundai-Kia is doing well (+18.4%) thanks to its range of electric and hybrid cars, especially SUVs. Toyota also jumped 9.1%. ACEA does not count Tesla sales.

“The manufacturer has tried to push its electric offer by launching several new models, but the demand for electrics does not compensate for the decline in interest from buyers for the traditional segments”, commented the firm Jato Dynamics on its blog.

For the firm Inovev, it could also be “that the sharp increase in the average price of cars as well as a wait-and-see attitude of customers vis-à-vis the electric vehicle is hampering purchases and encouraging potential customers to keep their vehicle longer”.

And the recovery could be delayed. “The start of 2022 will still be difficult in terms of chip supply,” Alexandre Marian, from AlixPartners, told AFP.

“Things should calm down in the middle of the year, but that does not mean that other problems will not appear, on subjects related to raw materials, logistics, or labor shortages”, has underlined the expert.

With AFP

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