Sales Sag in Europe, Even with Incentives
Consumers remain skittish about COVID-19 flareups
Early reports show that August sales stalled or slumped in major European markets, regardless of incentive programs.
In France, new-car deliveries fell 20% to 103,600 units compared with August 2019, according to industry trade group CCFA.
COVID concerns plague European sales. (Getty Images)
Demand was hurt by the end of a government scrappage plan in July that paid owners as much as $6,000 to dump an old car and buy a new one. The program buoyed year-on-year sales 1% in June and 4% in July.
In Spain, August retail sales fell 10% to 67,000 units in spite of government incentives. Consumers who scrap a 10-year-old car can get discounts of $4,800 on an all-electric model and as much as $1,000 on a more efficient piston-powered vehicle.
The plan helped advance July sales 1%, according to trade association ANFAC. But the group says revived worries about the COVID-19 pandemic—fueled by resurging infections in Spain—depressed August sales.
In Italy, total sales were flat at 88,800 units last month, according to the government’s transport ministry.
Analysts say new-car registrations by consumers soared 27% to about 63,000 vehicles, bolstered by a new incentives program that pays consumers $4,100 to replace an old vehicle with a fuel-efficient new one. But that gain was offset by a sharp drop in registrations by companies, rental fleets and dealerships.
What Does It Mean?
Europe’s car market remains volatile and sensitive to consumer concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
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Often when there are vehicles that have ceased production and are in the process of being completely moved out of the system there are sales numbers that look like this: Honda Insight: June 2016, 9; June 2015, 126; % change: 93.1% Sometimes there is a vehicle that has just gone into production and it catches the sales at just the right time so that there are numbers that look like this: Honda Ridgeline: June 2016, 2,472; June 2015, 7; % change: 33,856% OK.
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