Cars: Car registrations fall 12% in April, weighed down by economic uncertainty | Economy

A car dealership in Terrassa (Barcelona), in an image from 2021.
A car dealership in Terrassa (Barcelona), in an image from 2021.Christopher Castro

The war in Ukraine, with the economic uncertainty that it has added to the recovery from the pandemic, continues to hit the automobile sector, which experienced its worst start to the year in more than three decades until March. And in April that negative sign has not been removed. The 69,111 registrations of passenger cars and SUVs in the fourth month of the year represent a decline of 12.1% compared to April 2021, according to data provided this Monday by the main employers in the sector: Anfac (manufacturers), Faconauto (official dealers ) and Ganvam (other vendors and workshops). What weighed on sales the most was the drop in demand in the rental channel, that of companies dedicated to leasing vehicles, which registered just over 12,000 registrations, 40.6% less than a year ago.

On the good (or less bad) news side, April leaves the best monthly figure so far this year with its nearly 70,000 registrations, and the other two sales channels (individuals and companies) barely give up ground with respect to 2021. The first, with almost 29,000 registrations, is 1.4% below the figure of 12 months ago and in the accumulated figure for the year (adding the registrations of the first four months) it is 1.3% above the levels of 2021. In the sector, however, they feel that this demand is not as vigorous as it should be as a result of the post-pandemic economic rebound. Raúl Morales, communication director of Faconacuto, points out that “families feel that the context, with an economic recovery on hold due to the consequences of the war in Ukraine, is not the best time to buy a vehicle and they delay visiting dealers ”. In addition, “Holy Week has left fewer days for sale in April,” Morales points out in a statement released by the three employers.

As for the companies, they have been responsible for 28,111 registrations, 2.9% less than in April 2021. The percentage drop is almost identical to that of the annual accumulated figure (-2.8%) for this type of buyer . If all sales channels are taken into account, the sum of the first four months of the year leaves 233,509 registrations, 11.8% less than the first quarter of last year. The ballast, again, are the renters, who have acquired 55% fewer vehicles. The sector is thus experiencing a storm in which low demand is reinforced by supply problems, according to the director of Anfac’s economic area, Aránzazu Mur. “The slow entry of vehicles into the points of sale, caused by the microchip crisis, and a demand that is increasingly conditioned by economic uncertainty are making recovery difficult,” says the directive.

For Tania Puche, director of communication at Ganvam, the bottlenecks that grip the sector also have environmental consequences. “In a context of lack of supply, in which more cars over 15 years old than new ones are already being sold, the renovation of the fleet becomes a key point to promote decarbonisation,” says Puche. In April, 38% of registered vehicles were gasoline, compared to 34% alternative energies and 28% diesel. Among the alternatives, the vast majority were non-plug-in hybrids, which represented 24% of total sales. The plug-in hybrids had a market share of 5.4%, the pure electric ones did not reach 3% and those powered by gas barely approached 2%. As a whole, the 27,702 alternative energy cars registered in the fourth month of the year represented an increase of 8.9% compared to April 2021. The greatest boost compared to 12 months ago was experienced by plug-in hybrids, whose sales grew by 42%.

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By autonomous communities, registrations fell last month in all of them, except in the insular ones: in the Balearic Islands they increased by 36.4% and in the Canary Islands they did so by 53.2%. In the rest, the year-on-year falls showed highly variable percentages. The least bulky (below two digits) occurred in Castilla y León (-4.9%), Extremadura (-6.4%), Andalucía (-6.5%), Murcia (-7.1% ) and the Valencian Community (-7.4%). On the opposite side, sales plummeted 33.8% in Aragón, 28.9% in Navarra and 28.1% in Asturias.

As for the registrations of other types of vehicles, April leaves bittersweet sensations. In light commercials, there was a disaster when registering 9,361 registrations, 41% less than a year ago. The collapse occurs in its three sales channels, although it is more pronounced in the self-employed (almost half) than in the companies (-39%) and renters (-35%). However, registrations of industrial vehicles and buses grew by 8.6%, to 1,929. The highest percentage of increase corresponds, however, to buses and minibuses, which increased sales by more than 80% although they represent a small percentage of the market (213 registrations).

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