European Car Sales Plunge 20% in March: Shortages, Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Blamed

ZWICKAU, GERMANY - JANUARY 27: Various electric cars of the volkswagen group at the compan
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Registrations of new cars were down 20.5 per cent in March over the previous year, a historic fall the European car manufacturing industry has blamed on “ongoing supply chain disruptions, further exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.

Europe’s car manufacturers, already trying to recover from historic collapses in orders during the Coronavirus period, have seen another collapse in new car sales. The figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) record the number of ‘new passenger car registrations, which is to say vehicles that have been bought and then legally put on the road in that period.

The first quarter of the year (January to March) as a whole saw a 12.3 per cent fall in registrations, but the decline in new cars is considerably more pronounced when considering the month of March only, the first full month after Russia renewed its invasion of Ukrainian territory from the last week of February.

New registrations dropped 20.5 per cent to 844,187 in March. The previous March, there had been over a million registrations.

In all, there were 2.75 million car registrations in Q1 2022 across the whole of Europe (including the EU, EFTA, and the UK), a considerable fall from the same period ten years earlier when Q1 2012 had 3.4 million registrations. A report in France’s Le Figaro on the numbers claims the March numbers are the second-lowest since records began after the ‘Covid year’ of 2020.

As for why the new registrations are so low, ACEA blames a shortage of cars being made, caused by “ongoing supply chain disruptions” — known to many as the ‘chip shortage‘ — a factor “further exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”. Russia renewing its invasion of the Ukraine this year impacting manufacturing isn’t unforeseen: as Breitbart reported in Feburary, raw materials like neon gas and palladium produced in Ukraine and needed by the auto industry would have obvious consequences.

The fall in car sales across Europe was not, the figures show, evenly distributed across all nations or even all marques. Some major markets saw well-above-average falls, such as Italy (-29.7%), and Spain (-30.2%). Some nations saw considerable rises, like Romania and Ireland adding 40% each, but both are tiny markets for cars, seeing fewer new cars sold a year than are sold in France in a month.

Across Europe the Volskwagen Group is still the largest manufacturer of new cars, despite suffering a larger than average 25 per cent fall in registrations in March. The Hyundai group, the third-largest by volume of registrations in Europe, achieved a trend-busting ten power cent rise.

Britain’s Jaguar Land Rover was perhaps the hardest hit, losing 52 per cent of sales in March compared to the same period the year before, falling to just 1.3 per cent of all new car registrations in Europe.


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