Global vehicle sales fell by 39 percent (year-on-year) in March
London - It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic is having a catastrophic effect on the motor industry in all corners of the globe, but we now have a better picture of the extent of the damage.
According to Jato Dynamics, global vehicle sales amounted to 5.55 million units in March 2020, which is 39 percent down on the same month last year. This, says the automotive data specialist, is the largest year-on-year drop on record, or at least since it started collecting data in 1980, surpassing even the November 2008 global financial crisis - in which a 25 percent drop was recorded.
And strict lockdowns are not the only thing to blame for the sales tumble, Jato’s global analyst Felipe Munoz explains:
“This downward trend is not simply due to the restrictions of free movement. The industry is being impacted largely by the uncertainty for the future, and this issue started to arise even before the pandemic took hold.
“We have to remember that the industry was already operating in a challenging environment, especially towards the end of last year. The trade wars, lower economic growth and tougher emissions regulations came long before the Covid-19 crisis. And unlike previous recessions, we’re not just dealing with people’s fears or purchase delays. This time we have to consider that consumers are simply unable to leave their homes,” Munoz added.
On the local front, South African vehicle sales declined by 29.7 percent in March, versus the same month in 2019, according to Naamsa. However, with the strict lockdown only having begun three days before the end of March, the true devastation would have taken place in April.
Europe was the hardest hit region in March, Jato reports, with the passenger car market having declined by 52 percent year-on-year. While registrations fell in all 27 of its markets, some such as Finland and Lithuania, only saw marginal fluctuations. In Finland’s case, isolation was advised by the government but was not mandatory, with consumers in Lithuania still able to purchase new cars remotely. Swedish car registrations fell by just 9 percent, also due to the population not being forced to stay at home.