Daily Outlook

European Auto Industry Prepares for the Worst as Sales Plunge

The damage to the European car industry from the coronavirus pandemic is piling up, after French auto sales plunged in March and a major parts supplier scrapped its outlook. French passenger car registrations dropped 72% compared with the previous year, according to a statement Wednesday from the CCFA trade group. Separately, Germany’s Continental AG withdrew financial guidance for the year and said more than 40% of its plants have shut.

“It is very likely that new car and trucks sales will have to take the biggest hit since 1945,” Juergen Pieper, analyst at Bankhaus Metzler, said in an email. Carmakers from Volkswagen AG, PSA Group, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to Renault SA have shuttered factories and showrooms after governments restricted public life to stem the spread of Covid-19. With people housebound in major auto markets like France and Italy and non-essential purchases prohibited, consumers aren’t buying new vehicles.

Continental said about 30,000 employees, or half its local workforce, have been registered for state wage support and shorter working hours. In scrapping its outlook, the company followed a spectrum of firms across Europe who have said the outbreak makes it nearly impossible to predict revenue.

Swedish passenger car registrations fell 8.6% in March, industry organization BIL Sweden said. The drop wasn’t related to the pandemic as the cars were mostly ordered several months earlier. “We can expect a coronavirus effect on new registrations in the coming months,” said Mattias Bergman, head of BIL Sweden.

European Auto Industry Prepares for the Worst as Sales Plunge, Bloomberg, Apr 1

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