Thursday 23 January 2020 11:37 am

European car sales set to drop for first time in seven years, says trade body

Europe’s car sales are likely to decrease this year, according to the European automotive industry association ACEA.

Car registrations are projected to drop two per cent in 2020, which would be the first drop in seven years.

The forecast is likely to fuel growing concerns that car manufacturers’ best days are behind them.

Companies are haemorrhaging cash on switching to low-carbon vehicles, just as car sales in key markets such as China begin to cool.

Meanwhile, they are gearing up for tough new EU emissions regulations set to take effect this year and next.

“One of the biggest drivers of change for our sector is the need to address environmental concerns,” stated Michael Manley, ACEA President and chief executive of Fiat Chrysler.

“The good news is that carbon-neutral road transport is possible and together – with a holistic approach – we can reach it by 2050. 

“But that also means a lot needs to change in the next few decades.”

“At the very time when our industry is massively stepping up investments in zero-emission vehicles, the market is set to contract – not only in the EU but also globally – so the transition to carbon neutrality needs to be very well managed by policy makers.”

Manley said a dense network of electric car charging points needs to be rolled out across the continent.

This, he added, will be one of the single most important enabling conditions for achieving carbon neutral transport.

Electric car sales are expected to grow by a third this year, according to Bloomberg research.

European car sales grew 1.2 per cent last year after a year-end buying spree in December.

Meanwhile earlier this month, it emerged China’s car sales tumbled 8.2 per cent in 2019.

Manley added: “Firstly, we believe in choice for all. Policy makers should help drive the best possible results by remaining technology neutral – in other words, without imposing specific technologies or banning vehicles that can still deliver CO2 reductions.”