Data coming from the European automotive sector are alarming. According to ACEA, the Association that brings together European automobile manufacturers, only in the first fifteen days of the closure of manufacturing plants was recorded a loss of at least 1.2 million vehicles, a number destined to increase if suspension measures of the activities should be prolonged. There are great concerns regarding the resilience of the occupation. Overall, the automotive sector employs 2.6 million people in approximately 229 production and assembly plants. Considering also correlated activies, total employment is estimated to be of about 13.8 million workers.
“Right now, the main concern of ACEA and all its associates is to manage the immediate crisis in the automotive sector, which has basically come to a halt, something that the sector has never experienced before”, said the ACEA’s general manager, Eric-Mark Huitema. “Our first priority is to protect the health and employment of nearly 14 million Europeans who work directly or indirectly in our sector”.
As for car sales in Europe, the first months of 2020 have not been brilliant and now the Coronavirus emergency certainly does not help the sales recovery. The first two months ended with 2,202,010 cars sold, with a decrease of 7.3% compared to the same period last year. According to Centro Studi Promotor “The decrease of the European market in February is mainly determined by the weak demand from private individuals who are highly uncertain about the choice of the type of power supply. Almost anywhere there is a strong interest in zero impact solutions, which result in significant vehicle registrations in terms of percentages, but unfortunately very low in absolute values. In all countries the representative associations of producers and also those of consumers ask for incentives for ecological cars (from the elimination of VAT on electricity to other forms) and a greater commitment to the creation of recharging infrastructures, given that the offer of electric cars is now very wide and can meet a very large range of needs. The Geneva Motor Show was supposed to represent the consecration of the irreversible turn towards electricity”.
Gian Primo Quagliano, president of Centro Studi Promotor, said: “The final balance of the first two months of 2020 will go down in history as the watershed of the automotive sector before the Coronavirus and the automotive sector after the Coronavirus. The impact of the pandemic will be extremely severe in March and in the months to follow until the end of the alarm state and will affect all the markets in the area”.
Paolo Scudieri, president of ANFIA (Italian Association of the Automotive Industry), makes a statement along the same lines: “The Covid-19 epidemic is now an emergency for all European countries and is putting the production and the market automotive in a hard situation, although major repercussions are expected in the coming months. For this reason, individual national governments and the EU are adopting measures to safeguard the economies of the Member States and the competitiveness of the Union’s industry, both in this difficult situation and after overcoming the crisis”.
And finally Andrea Cardinali, general manager of Unrae (National Union of Foreign Automotive Representatives): “February data, not yet influenced by the emergency from Coronavirus, confirm the now structural crisis of the European automotive market, supported by the great economic efforts of automotive manufacturers and distribution networks. The outlook for 2020, already negative before the start of the health drama that the whole world is experiencing, risks becoming unsustainable due to the very serious, and unprecedented economic and social situation that arises”.
Although 2019 was not a particularly bright year in terms of growth, the Italian automotive sector closed with the positive sign of 0.3% determined by the push of the long-term rental and self-registration market. The commercial vehicle market ended 2019 with + 3.4% while industrial vehicles fell by -7.8. Also the Italian automotive market registered a negative trend in February, with a further decline compared to the losses in January. According to data released by the Ministry of Transport, 163,793 cars were registered last month, 8.8% less than a year ago. The sharp slowdown is mainly linked to the weak confidence of businesses and consumers, due to the slowdown of the economy and, in part, also to the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, caused by the related paralysis of the dealers’ activity (especially in some areas of Northern Italy). With -5.9% in January, determined in turn by the decision of the Automakers to push sales to anticipate the entry into force of the new emission regulations, the first two months of the year show a decrease of 7.34% (equal to 318,545 registrations).