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Global Economy

Car sales in the EU at a record low

The shortage of semiconductors is further reducing registration payments for new cars in Europe. In January 2022, around 683,000 cars were sold in the euro zone – fewer than ever in a January. The number of new registrations fell again and fell below the previous record low of January 2021 by six percent, as announced by the industry association ACEA.

Car manufacturers were able to sell more vehicles, especially in Eastern Europe: growth of more than 50 percent was achieved in Slovakia and Romania. There was also a ray of hope in Spain and Germany, where the authorities allowed more new cars. In absolute figures, however, the downward trend in many Western European countries could not be stopped. Above all in the large sales markets such as Italy and France, the number of registrations fell again by almost a fifth.

In a comparison of the major car manufacturers, the French Stellantis group in particular had to accept losses. Compared to the previous year, the number of registrations for the Peugeot, Opel and Citroën brands fell by more than 15.1 percent. Hyundai and Kia were able to increase significantly: Here the number of new registrations rose by more than 25 percent.

Semiconductor shortage prevents return to normal

The shortage of microchips is "still having a negative impact on auto sales across the region," the industry association said. The bottlenecks in semiconductors had already led to a significant slump in the EU new car market in 2021 as a whole: At 9.7 million vehicles, the number of new registrations had fallen to the lowest value since the statistics were introduced in 1990.

"The EU new car market is going down further," commented management consultancy EY. The chip crisis is still the all-dominant factor preventing the situation from recovering, explained EY automotive market expert Peter Fuss: "The manufacturers could sell a lot more new cars if they were able to deliver." Because although the order books of the manufacturers are full, they cannot adjust their production accordingly. "The lack of chips, however, prevents a return to normality," said Fuss.

Economists: No relaxation in sight

Most car manufacturers are increasing their production again: "According to the seasonally adjusted figures from the automobile association VDA, there should be a strong increase in January compared to the previous month," according to analysts at Commerzbank. However, the shortage of semiconductors will also be the dominant issue in the current year: According to Commerzbank, the proportion of companies that feel handicapped by supply bottlenecks is still more than 60 percent.

For comparison: "On a long-term average, a good five percent of the companies complained about material shortages," according to the analysts. An easing of the situation is not to be expected for the time being: "Many goods are still blocked on container ships that are currently unable to call at ports to unload their cargo. The tight capacities in the ports also ensure that freight rates remain high. "

Mercedes imposed an order freeze

The German car manufacturers are also badly affected by the crisis: Mercedes in Germany has already imposed an order freeze for the current version of the E-Class sedan. A company spokesman announced that the production volume had been exhausted due to the increasing number of orders worldwide. The T-model of the E-Class can still be ordered. The manufacturer delivered five percent fewer cars last year than in 2020, mainly because of the semiconductor crisis.

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