Fuel Type: Diesel

Are EVs as green as they seem?

The last year has been dominated by a single health emergency that brought the world to its knees. But for decades, scientists and campaigners have been warning of another impending crisis. As governments put environmental regulations in place, carmakers are transitioning into clean mobility companies. Spearheading this change, electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) appear poised to take the helm from internal combustion engines (ICEs). But for this handover to work, these electric models must prove to be environmentally advantageous. Autovista Group Daily Brief Journalist Tom Geggus asks, are EVs as green as they seem?

According to the European Commission, passenger cars are responsible for around 12% of total EU CO2 emissions, putting the automotive industry in the green spotlight. A poll of 15 European cities recently revealed nearly two-thirds of urban residents back a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. OEMs and mobility providers are also supporting a faster transition to zero-emission transport. Volvo Cars, Uber and LeasePlan are among a group of companies calling for an end date to new combustion car purchases in Europe no later than 2035. This would leave a large ICE-sized hole for EVs to plug. But considering its entire lifetime, is an electrified vehicle that much cleaner than a petrol or diesel-powered one?

Significantly smaller footprint

Published in March last year, research from the universities of Cambridge, Exeter and Nijmegen showed that in 95% of the world, an electric car has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than one powered by fossil fuels. Dr Florian Knobloch, University of Cambridge fellow, German Federal Ministry policy advisor, and the paper’s lead author, spoke with Autovista Group’s Daily Brief about the findings.

The academic team carried out extensive life-cycle assessments of emissions produced through vehicle use, as well as production and waste processing. ‘When you look at the production stage, it takes significantly more energy and material input due to the battery,’ Dr Knobloch said. But the EV then makes up for this larger burden across its entire lifetime thanks to far lower running emissions.

‘It is a myth that electric cars do increase emissions, even on a lifetime basis,’ he said. ‘In most parts of the world already, today EVs will decrease emissions, even if you factor in everything from production to recycling.’

‘A snowball effect’

When dividing the world into 59 regions, the research revealed that in 53, electric cars are already less emissions-intensive than one powered by petrol or diesel. These regions include Europe, the US and China. In fact, lifetime emissions from EVs were found to be 70% lower than petrol cars in countries like France and Sweden, where large amounts of electricity are generated through renewable and nuclear sources. However, the same cannot be said for counties like Poland, where dependence on coal-fuelled power stations lingers.

But as grids worldwide are rewired with decarbonisation in mind, even these regions will see more reason to go electric. So, as EVs become increasingly efficient, they will outstrip ICEs which have already reached near-peak efficiency. Dr Knobloch points out that even with the inclusion of greener technology like biofuels, there is little chance for the carbon footprint of ICE vehilces to greatly improve.

This transition to electromobility does take time. Confidence in EVs still needs to build up: from the early adopters to the mainstream. ‘Every EV you buy now increases the chance of more EVs being bought in the future,’ Dr Knobloch explained. As consumers are exposed to an increasing number of EVs, a snowball effect will take place with confidence growing alongside adoption, encouraging more people to take the electric leap. The study projects that globally, half of cars on average could be electric by 2050. This would lower global CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 gigatons annually.

A comparative tool

In Europe, clean-transport campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E), found that electric cars emit on average almost three times less CO2 than their ICE equivalent. Again, this figure considers wider impact, including the sourcing of battery materials, electricity production, and even power-plant construction. To illustrate the difference between the lifetime emissions of EVs and ICEs, T&E created a tool to compare drive types, considering the year of purchase, vehicle type and location, as well as electricity used for battery production.

Lucien Mathieu, manager overseeing road vehicles and e-mobility analysis at T&E, spoke with Autovista Group’s Daily Brief. As the tool’s creator, he explained it aims to combat other bias analysis of electric-car emissions, that might rely on outdated data, particularly given the rapid advance of EV technology. Using the most up-to-date information, T&E’s tool reveals CO2 emissions per kilometre, as well as in tonnes over lifetime.

For example, comparing two medium-sized cars bought in 2020, T&E’s tool reveals the electric car, on average, is responsible for 90 grammes of CO2 per kilometre versus petrol with 253 grammes. Considering tonnes of CO2 over distance driven, the EV’s ‘carbon debt’ from production is paid off quite quickly thanks to its low-usage emissions. This compares starkly to an ICE car, which is far less efficient when converting its fuel into movement.

This canyon between EV and ICE only looks set to grow as battery technology continues to advance, while fossil-fuel cars have already achieved close to their peak efficiency. A T&E study recently calculated that an EV battery uses 30 kilograms of raw materials with recycling, compared to the 17,000 litres of petrol burned by the average car.

‘The valuable minerals mined to make electric-car batteries will be used and reused unlike those of oil,’ said Greg Archer, UK director of T&E. ‘Over its lifetime, an average-engined car would burn through a stack of oil barrels, 25 storeys high, creating about 40 tonnes of CO2 and worsening global warming. In comparison, only 30 kilograms of metals would be lost each time an electric-car battery is recycled – roughly the size of a football.’

This gap will increase as advancements drive down how much lithium is needed to make a battery by half over the next decade. Cobalt will drop by over three-quarters and nickel by around a fifth. So, as EVs develop, T&E plans to keep their tool updated with the latest available evidence, as well as expanding its scope to include plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). But of course, EVs also benefit from technologies developing outside of their own powertrains.

Powering vehicles

At the end of last year, more than 3,500 European power companies, represented through the federation for the European electricity industry, Eurelectric, came out in support of a minimum 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. As more electricity generators and distributors throw their weight behind cleaner-energy solutions, including the use of more renewables, EVs can be expected to become greener.

Speaking with Autovista Group’s Daily Brief, Petar Georgiev, climate and E-mobility lead at Eurelectric, pointed to a larger picture when considering the energy behind EVs. ‘You do have to keep in mind what the actual carbon footprint is in different countries, at different times, and also how it is changing, because for us in the power sector, we clearly see that the grid is becoming cleaner and cleaner,’ he said. ‘But if we have to wait to have a fully renewable grid, and then only start to integrate renewables, that would probably be a very big mistake.’

Because an EV’s CO2 levels can be lowered long before its first charge, it makes sense to take a holistic approach to EV emissions and electricity usage. For example, manufacturers can opt for more efficient production methods, even incorporating renewables into the process. Furthermore, which cars plug into electromobility will be hugely important.

Eurelectric recently identified the electrification of Europe’s vehicle fleets as a ‘catalyst for clean mobility throughout the 2020s.’ The continent’s fleet is made up of 63 million cars, vans, buses, and trucks, operated by private companies or public authorities. The federation explained, however,  that despite only making up 20% of the parc, these vehicles account for 40% of all kilometres travelled. They also account for 50% of CO2 emissions from transport. ‘Electrification of car fleets can be a real game-changer,’ Kristian Ruby, secretary-general of Eurelectric said. ‘It comes with tangible reductions of total costs of ownership and CO2 emissions. So, it is a good deal both for fleet owners and society at large.’

While the electrification of vehicles contains the potential to reduce CO2 emissions dramatically, it is enormously dependent upon usage. So, when asked, ‘are EVs as green as they seem?’ the answer is yes, but adoption rates will determine their success.

Launch Report: BMW iX3 – conventional and balanced electrification

The iX3 is BMW’s first pure-electric X model and is the most conventional, being effectively a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) version of the best-selling X3.

The iX3 offers good performance, with strong linear acceleration – as usual for a battery-electric vehicle (BEV). The model also strikes a good balance between power and battery capacity, with competitive electricity consumption. In terms of agility and dynamics, the iX3 is slightly better than its direct rivals overall. As the battery is located under the car, this also explains the good roadholding.

Standard equipment is comprehensive, including three-zone climate control, heated and powered front seats (with memory function on the driver’s side), BMW Teleservices and wireless phone charging. Safety features include emergency-assist and rear cross-traffic alert. The 458km range of the iX3 is second only to the Jaguar I-Pace’s 470km range, and it has the fastest charging time when connected to an 11kw AC wallbox, of 7.5 hours.

In addition to BMW’s strong brand image, the iX3 is supported by the company’s longer expertise in electrification. This started with the i3, which has been on the market since 2013, and was followed by plug-in hybrid (PHEV) engines offered on different models in the range, including one for the brand’s X family.

As the first conventional BEV from BMW, the iX3 compares well against key competitors. It is offered at an attractive entry price point and the popularity of both the brand and the X3 range should ensure plenty of demand. Given that the iX3 is very close to the X3, BMW’s D-SUV range is now available in diesel, petrol, PHEV and BEV versions.

Click here or on the image below to read Autovista Group’s benchmarking of the BMW iX3 in France, Spain and the UK. The interactive launch report presents new prices, forecast RVs and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

Dieses Bild hat ein leeres Alt-Attribut. Der Dateiname ist BMW-1024x652.jpg

German registrations start slow recovery in March

New-car registrations in Germany increased 35.9% in March, according to the latest figures from the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA).

The figure was inflated due to the country’s first COVID-19 lockdown closing dealerships from mid-March in the previous year. However, at that time, registrations performed well compared to other countries. While Spain, France and Italy posted losses of 69.3%, 72.2% and 85.4%, respectively, Germany only saw a decline of 37.7%.

At the end of the first quarter, new registrations totalled 656,452 units, down 6.4% compared to the first three months of last year. This is despite dealerships being closed. The country’s market also suffered due to a VAT increase, with taxes rising from 16% to 19% at the beginning of the year. Autovista Group estimates that around 40,000 registrations were pulled forward into December last year as a result.


Brand increases

All domestic brands showed positive growth in March 2021, the strongest being Smart with a 304.4% increase. Double-digit increases were recorded by Opel (75.1%), Mini (58%), Porsche (55%), Volkswagen Passenger Cars (VW) (39.1%), Mercedes (36.7%), Audi (17.6%) and BMW (17%). VW claimed the largest share of new registrations, taking 19.3% of the market.

Alfa Romeo showed the most significant increase among the imported brands, up by 114.6%. Fellow Stellantis stablemate Peugeot saw sales grow 78.4% while Tesla enjoyed a 63.6% boost. However, Honda (-33.3%), Mitsubishi (-30%) and Jaguar (-10%) were among those to see sales decline in the month.

Electric closes the gap

In terms of fuel type, the market for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) achieved a significant increase of 191.4%, with a market share of 10.3%. With German car brands such as VW and BMW increasing their focus on electrification, there now seems to be an appetite for the technology amongst buyers. Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models achieved a 12.2% market share, with sales increasing 277.5% in the month.

The swing to electric drives is more evident when internal combustion engines (ICE) sales are considered. New registrations of passenger cars with petrol engines increased by 7.1%. However, the market share was just 39.4%. The sale of diesel models continued to decline, with 5% fewer in March 2021 for a 22.1% market share. For the second successive month, diesel sales were outpaced by those of hybrids. When including standard and PHEV models, this powertrain type took 27.8% of the market.

The figures, therefore, show that 38.1% of registrations in Germany during the last month were non-ICE models. This is just 1.3% below the market share of petrol in March. It may not be long until sales of these vehicles outpace those of more traditional powertrains.

Germany extended its lockdown period to 18 April following a spike in infection cases. However, the Federation of Motor Trades and Repairs (ZDK) argued that vehicle dealers should be allowed to reopen fully. The group’s main argument is that while a hairdresser, with a floor space of 10m2, is allowed to have one customer, car showrooms with a floor space of 500m2 cannot open.

Launch Report: Volkswagen Caddy – improved engines and specifications

The Volkswagen (VW) Caddy has been redesigned from the ground up, with improved safety, space, engines, and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). The fit and finish, digital cockpit, and general specification improvements make the model feel more like a VW passenger car. The driving dynamics are very good too, with outstanding roadholding and vehicle stability, as well as a good level of comfort.

Both the Caddy and the Caddy Maxi have grown in length and wheelbase, providing more cargo space. As the model is bigger, the maximum payload is slightly lower, but is the highest among key competitors. However, the loading volume of the Caddy is slightly below average, with the cargo space allowing for just one Euro pallet (only the long-wheelbase Maxi version accommodates two), while most competitors take two in standard form.

The new model hosts a comprehensive offer of assistance systems, including trailer-assist, which is a unique selling point in the segment. The modern interior and digital cockpit are advantageous for dual-use customers, i.e. drivers that use the vehicle for both commercial and private purposes.

The latest Euro 6 diesel engines benefit from huge emissions reductions and better fuel economy, supported by the new double SCR (selective catalytic-reduction) system. The 102-horsepower 2.0TDI has the lowest fuel consumption and CO2 emissions among its key rivals. There is not a fully-electric version of the new Caddy available, unlike small PSA Group and Renault vans. However, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version is planned for 2022. A compressed natural gas (CNG) version is already available in France, and will be available to order in Spain from December 2021.

The Caddy has a lower entry list price than its predecessor, but pricing is generally higher than those of other mainstream competitors. However, the fuel savings and reduced CO2 emissions will improve running costs and should entice new buyers. Furthermore, the development of working-from-home, and closures of non-essential retail, have led to an increase in home deliveries, benefiting demand for vans, and their residual values (RVs).

Click here or on the image below to read Autovista Group’s benchmarking of the VW Caddy in France, Germany, Spain and the UK. The interactive launch report presents new prices, forecast RVs and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

Launch Report: VW Caddy

Video: Europe’s registrations struggle in February but improvements to come

Autovista Group Daily Brief editor Phil Curry discusses the registration figures from Europe’s big five automotive markets. While numbers may be down, the outlook for the whole year is more positive…

To get notifications for all the latest videos, you can subscribe for free to the Autovista Group Daily Brief YouTube channel.

Show notes

Lockdown drives German new-car registrations down by 19% in February

February UK new-car registrations plunge to level of 1959

Significant downturns in European registrations in February

Conditional reopening of German car showrooms

England’s car showrooms to remain closed until 12 April

Podcast: How is European automotive adapting to pandemic and climate-change fallout?

Daily Brief editor Phil Curry and journalist Tom Geggus discuss key activities and developments in the European automotive sector from the past fortnight. These include COVID-19’s effect on the uptake of mobility-as-a-service (MAAS), different fuel types, and autonomous technology.

Show notes

Cazoo buys Cluno as CaaS options increase

Significant downturns in European registrations in February

Lockdown drives German new-car registrations down by 19% in February

February UK new-car registrations plunge to level of 1959

VW accelerates towards electric and digital future

VW aims for commercialised autonomous systems in 2025

Is it too early to go ‘EV-only’?

Ford to be zero-emission capable in Europe by 2026

Jaguar makes BEV and hydrogen changes on path to net zero

Volvo to go all electric and online by 2030

E-fuels gain awareness as Mazda joins alliance

Launch Report: Hyundai Tucson – bolder and roomier

The new Hyundai Tucson has an assertive and bold design, with its front face combining the headlights and grille. The 3D rear-light signature echoes the progressive triangular headlight design and two-tone colour personalisation is now possible. As the new Tucson is longer and wider, it is roomier and more practical than its predecessor and has a large boot.

The modern and refined digital cockpit, featuring a flush-fitting 10-inch screen, is standard across the range and there is also a digital TFT screen directly in front of the driver. The materials, trim and build quality are all good and there are numerous ADAS and safety features, including a central airbag between the two front seats. A neat touch is the blind-spot monitoring system, which shows a digital feed from the left or right side of the car, depending on which direction is indicated.

The Tucson is offered with mild-hybrid (MHEV) petrol and diesel engines or as a full hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV), and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version will be available too. The trim lines are well composed and there are relatively few options, leading to well-equipped used cars.

With the leap forward in quality and roominess compared to its predecessor, the Tucson has the potential to attract a wider selection of consumers. The HEV version may present an attractive business proposition for buyers who are not yet ready to plug in.

Click here or on the image below to read Autovista Group’s benchmarking of the Hyundai Tucson in France, Germany and the UK. The interactive launch report presents new prices, forecast residual values and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

Launch Report: Hyundai Tucson

Germany: new-car registrations down 31% in January

New-car registrations fell by 31.1% in Germany during January compared with the same month in 2020. A total of 169,754 passenger cars were registered according to the latest figures from the country’s automotive authority, the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA).

This aligns with the Autovista Group expectation of a return to year-on-year declines of about 30% in countries where dealers were closed for physical sales. Germany is the largest European market affected in January, with the restrictions currently in place until 14 February.

The German market was also hampered by the return to a 19% VAT rate since 1 January 2021, which had been reduced to 16% from 1 July to 31 December 2020. Autovista Group estimates that this change advanced about 40,000 new-car registrations into December 2020, when the market rose 9.9% compared to the previous reporting period. Furthermore, the shortage of semiconductors will have invariably disrupted some new cars’ deliveries in the country last month.

New-car registrations, Germany, y-o-y % change, January 2020 to January 2021

Pkw-Neuzulassungen, Deutschland, Veränderung in % gegenüber dem Vorjahr, Januar 2020 bis Januar 2021

Source: KBA

There were two fewer working days in January 2021 than in January last year. On a comparable working-day basis, Autovista Group estimates that registrations fell by about 23% in the last month, and annualised new-car demand was at 2.94 million units. As in France, Spain and Italy, the start to 2021 of Germany’s new-car market has been deceptively shaky.

Given the mitigating factors in January, this bodes relatively well for the German market, which Autovista Group currently forecasts will recover to 3.15 million units in 2021, 8% up on 2020. This is at the same level as the German automotive industry association VDA forecasts. However, the VDA rightly highlighted that 2021 will still be ‘significantly lower than the approximately 3.5 million new registrations of the years 2017 to 2019.’

‘We assume that the second half of 2021 will bring an improvement, if the progress in vaccination is so great that the pandemic can be noticeably contained in everyday life,’ commented VDA president Hildegard Müller. This echoes the EU-wide sentiment expressed by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). ‘The year 2021 will decide the future of the industry in Germany and Europe. We are at a turning point that will set the direction for the following decades,’ Müller added.

Brands and segments

German brands reflected January’s negative performance. Audi (down 47.4%), Mini (down 41.5%), and Ford (down 41.1%) saw the most significant declines. Meanwhile, Porsche posted the smallest losses, with a drop of 3.9%. Volkswagen maintained the largest market share, of 20.1%.

Among the imported brands, Tesla and Volvo exceeded their registration results for the same reporting period in 2020, up 23.4% and 9.4% respectively. In contrast, declines of more than 70% were seen at Jaguar and Honda (down 77.9% and 70.1% respectively), while Fiat recorded the smallest decrease of 14.8%. Skoda was the strongest imported brand for market share, with 6.7% of registrations.

Motorhomes were the only segment to achieve growth, of 5%, to capture a market share of 1.9%. Meanwhile, small MPVs saw the most severe decline at 63.6%, and full-size MPVs fell 55.3%, sports cars slumped by 43.2% and utility vehicles dropped by 42%. SUVs were the strongest segment with 21.9% of the market, despite a decrease of 26.4%, followed by the compact segment with a 19.1% share, down 32.2%.

Fuel types

Registrations of petrol-powered cars fell by half (50.3%) in January 2021 compared to the previous reporting period, taking 37.1% of the market. Diesel also dropped by 44.8%, representing just over a quarter of new cars (26.1%). In contrast, electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) saw year-on-year growth of 117.8%, with a total of 16,315 new units registered, taking their share to 9.6%.

Some 45,449 hybrids were registered in January, up 47.5%, while securing 26.8% of the market. A total of 20,588 plug-in hybrid units were registered in January, up 138.3%, with a 12.1% share. Natural gas (259) and liquefied gas (340) only accounted for 0.2% of the market last month, recording a combined decrease of 35.5%. The average CO2 emissions of newly registered cars was 125.9 g/km, representing a decrease of 16.9%.

The tipping balance towards EVs, and away from internal combustion engines (ICE), follows on from a trend recorded last year. In 2020, alternative drives made up of hybrid, fuel-cell, gas, hydrogen, and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), claimed approximately a quarter of all new-car registrations. The German government set out COVID-19 recovery plans as a springboard towards a greener economy, with a greater emphasis on electromobility. In November, it committed a €4 billion stimulus package to the automotive sector, with funds channelled into the adaptation of production lines and incentivising the purchase of EVs.

Used-car markets and RVs under limited pressure in 2021

Senior data journalist Neil King explains Autovista Group’s key predictions for the year ahead, focusing on used-car demand and residual values in this second part.

Europe’s big five markets all suffered double-digit declines in new-car registrations in 2020, but used-car transactions exhibited more resilience. The exception is Italy, which suffered the same year-on-year in used-car transactions in Italy as new-car registrations, 27.9%, according to industry association ANFIA.

In contrast to the dramatic 29% decline in new-car registrations, used-car transactions in Spain declined by 12.8% in 2020, to 1,963,053 transactions, according to GANVAM, the Spanish dealers’ association.

‚The used-car market in Spain is always more favoured than the new-car market in times of crisis. Sales fell by only 13% in 2020, and the age structure of these sales has changed substantially in recent months and will continue to do so throughout 2021. The most notable change is undoubtedly the lower prevalence of young used cars in the market, caused by the standstill in tourism and the lack of renewal of rental fleets. In 2021, we also expect a greater share of electric vehicles in the used-car market, which accounted for just 0.2% of total sales in 2020,’ explained Azofra.

In the UK, used-car sales data are not yet available for full-year 2020, but the country’s used-car market contracted by 17.5% year-on-year in the first three quarters. Autovista Group estimates that used-car transactions were 15% lower in the year as a whole. This is only about half the contraction suffered by the new-car market. Used-car transactions are naturally expected to improve in 2021, but with a lower growth rate than new-car registrations.

Used-car transactions in France declined by a modest 3.8% in 2020, compared to a 25.5% fall in the new-car market, according to industry association CCFA. ‘The demand for diesel cars on the used-car market is still high while the supply is lower and lower, but petrol sales, which account for about 40% of total used-car sales, reached a maximum in 2020,’ explained Yoann Taitz, Autovista Group head of valuations and insights, France and Benelux. Limited growth, if any, is therefore expected in 2021.

Slight improvement for Germany

Even in Germany, where the used-car market declined by only 2.4% in 2020, according to the KBASchwacke expects a slight improvement in used-car sales compared to 2020. ‘The used-car business was quite successful over the past 12 months under the circumstances and sold slightly more than seven million cars by the end of the year. The forecast for 2021 is the same – around seven million cars,’ commented Andreas Geilenbrügge, head of valuations and insights at Schwacke.

Europe: new-car registrations and used-car transactions, year-on-year % change, 2020

Europa: Neuzulassungen und Gebrauchtwagen-Transaktionen, Veränderung in % gegenüber dem Vorjahr, 2020


(Note: UK is estimated, based on the latest data)

RVs grow in 2020, face limited pressure in 2021

Autovista Group’s COVID-19 tracker shows that the index of residual values (RVs) finished 2020 at or above pre-crisis levels in all of Europe’s major markets. The measurements began in February, with an index value of 100.

Grafik: Restwertprognose 2021

Source: Autovista Group, Residual Value Intelligence, COVID-19 tracker

Residual values have peaked, however, and have declined in recent weeks. Looking to 2021, ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and the economic impact, as well as the aversion to public transport, will support used-car demand. Autovista Group therefore predicts that residual values will only come under limited pressure.

Spain: difficult year

The tax rise in Spain, with the introduction of WLTP-based emissions figures, and the end to the RENOVE scrappage scheme will hinder new-car demand and means RVs may increase slightly in value terms in Spain, but a 1.1% decline is forecast in terms of trade percentage, i.e. value retention, in the standard 36-month/60,000km scenario.

‘We foresee a difficult year for the sector, especially in terms of new-car sales. However, used-car sales will resist the onslaught of the crisis better and only their average residual values will be slightly affected.’ Azofra emphasised.

‘Electric vehicles will experience greater pressure on their transaction prices in the used-car market. On the one hand, their price is still very high, which is an important market barrier, even more so in crisis circumstances such as the present. On the other hand, demand is trying to be stimulated through incentive schemes, so it will be difficult to maintain their used-car price. In addition, the recharging infrastructure is still insufficient, the poorest in the big five European countries, which reduces their development space in the used-car market. With regard to the rest of the engines, we estimate small negative adjustments in petrol and diesel vehicles and greater stability for hybrid engines, which are in increasing demand.’

The end to Brexit uncertainty could serve as a positive for the UK’s new-car market, but deliveries may be affected and price rises are expected as the share of components in some engines will invariably exceed the ‘locally-sourced’ threshold. It is an incredibly difficult call but Glass’s, the UK arm of Autovista Group, forecasts a 1.4% decline in the RVs, in trade percentage terms.

Schwacke points out that fleet registrations from 2017/2018 declined somewhat in Germany and there were also almost 400,000 tactical registrations less from 2020, of which usually two thirds are sold to end customers as young used vehicles in the year after first registration.

Stable demand

‘In view of the expected stable demand, this is definitely a plus point for price development in the coming year, but supply volume will probably struggle,’ said Geilenbrügge. The return to a 19% VAT rate on new cars will also affect RVs, but a modest decline of 0.7%, in trade percentage terms, is forecast for used cars in the 36-month/60,000km scenario.

The tax changes in France, which penalise petrol cars more than diesels, and incentives for EVs present a mixed picture. ‘In 2021, there is a clear risk of having a new-car market in contradiction with the used-car market. For CO2 reasons, the fuel types that are driving the new-car market are not the most attractive ones on the used-car market. Lower supply will reduce the RV pressure on petrol cars, and the sales stop of powerful diesel engines, which are well demanded on the used-car market will especially support RVs of these specific vehicles. The high prices and bonus for EVs still impacts RVs, especially at 12 months, but the €1,000€ bonus reduction in July 2021 will support RVs more positively,’ explained Taitz. Overall, the latest RV outlook for France calls for a minimal drop of 0.4% in the prices, in trade percentage terms, of used cars.

The poorest RV outlook is in Italy, where used cars have not weathered the COVID-19 storm better than new cars and the introduction of additional incentives for new cars will apply more pressure on used-car demand and residual values. RVs of used cars in the 36-month/60,000km scenario are currently forecast to fall by 3.9% in trade percentage terms.

In a first part, King discussed Autovista Group’s predictions for new-car registrations in Europe’s major markets in 2021.

German new-car registrations down 19% in 2020

Germany saw the registration of 2.9 million new cars in 2020, down 19.1% on 2019. The latest figures from the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA) show that 62.8% of these units were registered for commercial purposes, down 22.4%, while 37.1% of the market share was private, down 13%.

Bidding farewell to a year of unprecedented challenges, the German market was able to end 2020 on a marginally positive note. A total of 311,394 passenger cars were sold in December last year, up 9.9% on the same period from 2019. Accompanied by an 8.4% rise in September, the German new-car market only saw two months of registration growth in 2020. These upticks in the second half of last year represent a move away from the 61% plunge in April and 49.5% drop in May.

New-car registrations, Germany, y-o-y % change, January to December 2020

Pkw-Neuzulassungen, Deutschland, Veränderung gegenüber dem Vorjahr in %, Januar bis Dezember 2020
Data: KBA

While Germany appears to be leading the way with a recovering automotive market, difficulties continue across Europe as member states are battered by fresh pandemic waves. In December last year, French new-car registrations dropped by 11.8% compared to the same period in 2019. Italy felt a greater decline at 14.9%, while Spain saw just 13 fewer registered units than December 2019. However, Germany does not appear to be out of the woods yet.

Climbing infection rates have triggered an extension of the country’s lockdown measures until the end of January. This makes a positive start to this year seem even less likely as dealerships must remain closed, except for the service departments. While Autovista Group’s Schwacke expects to see a recovery to just under 3.1 million new-car registrations in 2021, it predicts figures will be below those in previous years, and significantly below 2019’s peak.

New-car registrations, EU4, y-o-y % change, January to December 2020

Pkw-Neuzulassungen, EU4, Veränderung in % gegenüber dem Vorjahr, Januar bis Dezember 2020


Drives and segments

With the largest share of last year’s market at 46.7%, a total of 1,361,723 petrol-powered cars were registered, down 36.3% on 2019. Meanwhile, 819,896 diesel-driven cars took a 28.1% share, down 28.9% on the previous year.

Alternative drives, consisting of hybrids, battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), hydrogen fuel-cell and gas claimed approximately a quarter of all new-car registrations in Germany last year. Hybrids achieved a share of 18.1%, up 120.6% on the previous period with 527,864 registrations, including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) with 200,469 units, up 342.1% and with a market share of 6.9%. Electric cars represented 6.7% of the market, up 206.8% to 194,163 units. A total of 7,159 gas-powered cars were registered in 2020, down 6.1% on 2019, and LPG-driven cars saw a drop of 9.8%, to 6,543 units. CO2 emissions from cars fell by 11.0% last year, on average to 139.8g/km from 157.0g/km in the previous reporting period.

Over half of all registrations were accounted for by SUVs (21.3%), compact cars (20.5%) or small cars (15.1%). With 2.6% of the market, motorhomes saw the most significant increase, up 41.4%.

Brand performance

All German brands showed a decline last year. Smart took the hardest fall at 67.3%, followed by Opel, which dropped by 32.3%, then Ford down 30.6%. VW fell by 21.3% on the previous reporting year, Audi slumped by 19.9%, Porsche was down by 16.3%, BMW dropped by 13.7%. Negative results were also reported by Mini (down 11.7%) and Mercedes (down 10.6%). With a share of 18%, VW held the largest share of the new-car market in 2020.

For imported brands, both Tesla (up 55.9%) and Fiat (up 0.2%) reported positive results for 2020. Meanwhile, declines were recorded by Suzuki (down 44.8%), Ssangyoung (down 40.2%), Mazda (down 38.1%) and Dacia (down 36.6%). Skoda led the imported brands with a market share of 6.2%, followed by Renault with 4.3%.

Automotive relief at Brexit deal

Following a year of unprecedented difficulties, the European Union and the UK reached an agreement on Christmas Eve for a Brexit deal.

‘It was a long and winding road. But we have got a good deal to show for it,’ said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. ‘It is fair and balanced. And it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.’

Confirming the long-awaited agreement, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson estimated the free-trade deal to be worth approximately £660 billion (€735 billion). He described it as a ‘comprehensive Canada-style free-trade deal,’ which means UK goods can be sold without tariffs and quotas in the EU.

As the UK now no longer follows the EU’s rules on production standards, checks on goods have been introduced. This, in turn, creates more paperwork and red tape, which may result in delays if goods arrive at ports unprepared. However, the deal does include a 12-month grace period on some elements of the ‘rules of origin’ declarations, which require exporters to certify goods qualify as locally sourced, allowing them to avoid tariffs. Businesses will have a year to obtain supporting documents form third-party suppliers, giving some companies more time to adapt.

But how has this last minute, 1,246-page Christmas present been received by the automotive sector?

The automotive reaction

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) welcomed the deal and the relief it brought as the sector avoids the harsh consequences of a no-deal Brexit. ACEA director-general Eric-Mark Huitema explained that no other industry is more closely integrated than the European automotive sector, which depends upon complex supply chains that stretch across the region.

‘The impact of a no-deal Brexit on the EU auto industry would have been simply devastating, so we are first and foremost extremely relieved that an agreement was reached before the transition period expired,’ Huitema said. ‘Nonetheless, major challenges still lie ahead, as trade in goods will be heavily impacted by barriers to trade in the form of new customs procedures that will be introduced on 1 January 2021.’

ACEA pointed out that compared to when the UK was aligned with the EU, the deal struck by negotiators has introduced much more red tape and regulatory burden. According to ACEA, before Brexit, almost 3 million vehicles worth €54 billion were traded annually between the EU and the UK, and cross-Channel trade in automotive parts accounted for nearly €14 billion.

Phase-in period

In the UK, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) also welcomed news of the agreement as a platform for a future relationship between the EU and UK. It also identified the need for a ‘phase-in period,’ which it stated would be critical to help business on both sides adapt.

‘The tariff-free, quota-free trade industry has called for has been secured in principle. However, the six-year phase-in period and special provisions for electrified vehicles and batteries now make it imperative that the UK secures at pace investment in battery gigafactories and electrified supply chains to create the world-leading battery production infrastructure to maintain our international competitiveness,’ said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

The SMMT went on to call for the immediate ratification and implementation of the agreement. Members of Parliament in the UK did go on to vote overwhelmingly to back the deal, with the House of Lords also passing the bill off for Royal Assent.

The EU has also identified the need to get the agreement ratified as a matter of ‘special urgency,’ even though it was unable to do so before the UK left the single market. Given the late hour, the Commission proposed to apply the details on a provisional basis for a limited time period until 28 February 2021. The deal was also given unanimous backing by ambassadors from the 27 nations, with written approval from member states.

Now the UK can look to future partnerships with countries like Turkey, with which it recently signed a deal for preferential trading terms. New relationships like these will be essential as the country’s partnership with the EU trading bloc becomes more complex, and it navigates the terms of the deal.

‘Further ahead, we must pursue the wider trade opportunities that Brexit is supposed to deliver while accelerating the UK’s transition to electrified-vehicle manufacturing. With the deal in place, government must double down on its commitment to a green industrial revolution, create an investment climate that delivers battery-gigafactory capacity in the UK, supports supply-chain transition and maintains free-flowing trade – all essential to the UK Automotive sector’s future success,’ said Hawes.

Monthly Market Dashboard: RVs start to fall in Europe

Autovista Group’s interactive monthly market dashboard (MMD) suggests that pressure is increasing on residual values. Senior data journalist Neil King explores this month’s analytics.

This month’s MMD reveals that the average residual value (RV) of cars aged 36 months and with 60,000km grew year on year in all the Big 5 European markets in December. However, there are early indications that RVs are coming under pressure, with values lower than reported for November in Italy and the UK, and essentially stable in Germany in Spain. France bucked the trend, albeit with month-on-month pricing growth of just 1.3%. The downward trend looks set to continue in 2021.

RV retention, represented as RV%, grew year on year in all markets except Germany. The highest growth in RV% terms was in the UK, where the average RV% was 46%, equating to a 9.2% change compared to December 2019. Nevertheless, even RVs in the UK were lower than in November in terms of both value and retention.

Monatsupdate Dezember 2020

The UK enjoyed the strongest rally in used-car prices after Europe emerged from lockdowns. This was driven by the release of pent-up demand, and a starker vehicle-supply challenge than any other market, which translated into higher RVs as used-car demand outstripped supply.

However, as reported in our latest coverage of the ‘three-speed’ development of RVs across Europe, RVs in the UK have been descending from their great height since late October as pent-up demand is broadly satisfied and new-car supply has improved. With the UK under restrictions as it seeks to stem the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, like most of Europe, and the Brexit transition period ending on 31 December, a further descent is expected going into 2021.

Lockdown slowdown in France and the UK

Despite the pressure on RVs, three-year-old cars are selling quicker than a year ago in all the major European markets, except the UK. However, the average number of stock days over the last month, compared to the November MMD snapshot, rose by 14.9% in France and 16.6% in the UK as both countries have been in strict lockdowns, including the closure of dealerships. Nevertheless, three-year-old cars are still selling the quickest in the UK, moving on after an average of less than 40 days.

The greatest reduction in the average number of days for 36-month-old cars to sell, compared to the December 2019 snapshot, was in Italy. These vehicles now have to wait on average only 45 days to find a new buyer, sitting idle for 13% fewer days than in November 2019.

Two of the three fastest-selling cars in the major markets in December 2020 are Audi models in France. The A6 is taking less than 16 days to find a new home and the A4 sells after about 18 days on average. In second place is the Volvo XC90 in Italy, which needs just under 18 days to be rehomed.

Negative RV outlook

The new MMD also features the latest Autovista Group RV outlook for the major European markets. The new downward trend for RVs is unfortunately forecast to continue in 2021, with prices of used cars in the 36 month/60,000km scenario declining in all the Big 5 European markets.

In the December update, the RV outlook has improved slightly in France and the UK but values are still forecast to decline in 2021, by 0.4% and 1.4% respectively. Used-car prices are forecast to decline by 0.7% in Germany and 1.1% in Spain. The weakest outlook is for Italy, where RVs are forecast to be 3.9% lower than their current level at the end of 2021.

Click here or on the screenshot above to view the monthly market dashboard for December 2020.

Launch Report: Citroën C4 – a crossover pioneer

With the new C4, Citroën has mixed a crossover with a hatchback to deliver a C-segment car with DNA from both camps. It has more of a hatchback silhouette than an SUV, but it still offers high ground clearance and an elevated seating position, as well as an airy internal feel due to the raised roofline.

The new Citroën is equipped with progressive hydraulic shock absorbers, comfortable seats, 18-inch wheels, a digital cockpit, and offers good space between the two seat rows. It also has more than 20 advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), a head-up display and a 10-inch central console. Citroën has removed the need to use the touchscreen to access the climate controls, with a row of controls in the lower central dashboard.

The C4 is available with petrol and diesel engines, as well as a fully-electric version, the e-C4, on PSA’s modular, ‘multi-energy’ CMP platform. It is one of the hatchback/crossover pioneers in the C-segment and is offered at a reasonable price point, especially with the good level of equipment. However, some manufacturers are launching similar offerings in the coming months, increasing competition for the model.

Click here or on the image below to read Autovista Group’s benchmarking of the Citroën C4 in France, Germany, Spain and the UK. The interactive launch report presents new prices, forecast residual values and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

Launch Report Citroën C4

UK registrations stall in November as second lockdown takes effect

UK new-car registrations fell by 27.4% year-on-year in November, as a second lockdown came into effect, closing dealerships and hampering sales. New data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals that 42,840 fewer cars joined British roads, resulting in a £1.3 billion (€1.4 billion) revenue hit for the market.

In total, the UK saw 113,781 new-car registrations last month, taking trade back to levels not seen since the 2008 recession. Private demand fell by 32.2%, while registrations by large fleets dropped by 22.1%. While this most recent decline demonstrates the continued impact of COVID-19, the drop was less severe than the one in the UK’s first lockdown which began in March, where registrations fell by 97.3% in April alone.

Fuel type divergence

Positive trends did continue for alternative-fuel cars, with battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) increasing their number of registrations, up 122.4% and 76.9% respectively. BEVs enjoyed their third-highest ever monthly market share at 9.1%, with PHEVs also building their share up to 6.8%.

Nearly 37% of the market was held by low-emission fuel types in November, resulting in a year-on-year change of 74.1%. This resulted in a combined total of 18,000 new zero-emission capable cars joining the UK’s roads during the month. Meanwhile, petrol continued to hold on to its market majority at 49.1%, with a year-on-year registrations drop of 41.9%, from 96,166 in November 2019 to 55,855 in the same period this year. Diesel sales fell by 56.2% to 15,925 in November 2020 from 36,329 units in the same period last year, holding on to 14% of the market.

Grafik: Neuwagen Anmeldungen November 2020 SMMT
Source: SMMT

Protective measures in place

November’s partial triumph is the result of manufacturers being better prepared to deal with the pandemic, having already put in place protective measures during the first wave of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns, such as click and collect ordering systems with little to no human contact.

‘Given the huge contribution that COVID-19-secure showrooms make to the economy and a national recovery, reopening dealerships across most of the UK will help protect jobs in retail and manufacturing and should help stimulate spending,’ the SMMT said.

So far, the automotive sector has been stripped of 663,761 units this year, down 30.7%. This means that some 31,000 cars would need to be registered every working day in December if the market was to climb back to the level expected at the beginning of 2020.

UK new-car registrations, January 2018 to December 2020 (forecast from December 2020)

UK new-car registrations, January 2018 to December 2020

Source: SMMT and Autovista Group

‘Compared with the spring lockdown, manufacturers, dealers and consumers were all better prepared to adjust to constrained trading conditions,’ said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. ‘But with £1.3 billion worth of new car revenue lost in November alone, the importance of showroom trading to the UK economy is evident and we must ensure they remain open in any future COVID-19 restrictions. More positively, with a vaccine now approved, the business and consumer confidence on which this sector depends can only improve, giving the industry more optimism for the turn of the year.’

Now with less than a month to go until the UK leaves the EU, talks over a trade deal look to be reaching a pinnacle moment. In the event of no free-trade agreement between the UK and EU tariffs of 10% could be added to imports and exports. Carmakers have already cautioned their inability to absorb this additional cost, meaning they could tag it onto the price of new cars imported into the country, which will only come to hurt the sector further.

New-car registrations deteriorate across Europe in November

Autovista Group senior data journalist Neil King considers the ongoing downward trend in new-car registrations in France, Italy and Spain in November.

Despite government-backed incentives in France, Italy and Spain, new-car registrations suffered significantly again in November, according to data released by the respective automotive trade associations. As countries battle the second wave of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, restrictions and/or economic repercussions are impacting registration volumes, albeit inflicting far less damage than in March to May.

Following the lifting of lockdowns earlier in the year, the countries’ automotive markets had shown signs of recovery, but, all three suffered a continuation of the downward trend that commenced in September. The 18.7% contraction in Spain was a subtle improvement on the 21.0% year-on-year decline in October, but this was only because of the extra working day in November 2020 compared to November 2019.

New-car registrations, France, Italy and Spain, year-on-year percentage change, January to November 2020

Neuzulassungen von Pkw, Frankreich, Italien und Spanien, Veränderung gegenüber dem Vorjahr in Prozent, Januar bis November 2020


New-car registrations were 27.0% lower in France in November 2020 than in the same month of 2019, even with one extra working day, according to the latest data released by the CCFA, the French automotive industry association. This is the largest year-on-year decline in a month since May, but compared to the dramatic falls in March and April, ‘the re-confinement had decidedly different consequences for the car market,’ commented the CCFA in a flash statement.

‘All the dealers were closed in France in November. They were only allowed to deliver cars that had already been ordered before the second lockdown. They have reopened since 28 November,’ clarified Yoann Taitz, Autovista Group head of valuations and insights, France and Benelux. As dealers could still honour deliveries of orders, this explains why the downturn in France was far less significant in November than during the first lockdown.

In the first 11 months of 2020, new-car registrations in France were 26.9% lower than in the same period in 2019. With dealers open again, December will invariably be a healthier month for the automotive sector, but new-car registrations will still be about 25% lower in 2020 than in 2019.

Less lockdown, more crisis in Spain

In Spain, 75,708 new cars were registered during November, 18.7% fewer than in November 2019, according to ANFAC, the Spanish vehicle manufacturers’ association. ‘The red numbers remain in all segments and vehicle-sales channels in November 2020, and therefore in the cumulative figures. The second wave of the pandemic, and the associated serious economic and social crisis, is deepening the decline in sales in all markets,’ ANFAC commented.

The MOVES II and RENOVE incentive schemes were introduced in July and the new-car market saw a 1.1% increase that month. Since then, however, the year-on-year results have deteriorated, with the November fall only improving slightly on October because of the extra working day in the month.

Ana Azofra, valuations and insights manager at Autovista Group in Spain, explained that ‘the lockdown had many different scenarios, depending on the region and city, but was less restrictive than during the first wave and dealers – at least most of them – remain open. However, the RENOVE incentives for internal combustion engines (ICE) are exhausted and, moreover, the crisis is already affecting private consumption. The unemployment rate already increased in Spain and now stands at 16.5%, maintaining the negative trend.’

Measures to deal with the second wave of COVID-19 infections and the economic repercussions of the crisis are clearly weakening consumer demand. Furthermore, the calculation of the registration tax based on WLTP emissions figures, from January 2021, will further complicate the recovery.

‘Half of the vehicles sold in 2021 will see their taxation increased at the time of purchase due to the entry into operation of the European WLTP regulation. This average price increase of 5% will mean, in such a bad environment for vehicle sales, a worsening of the sector’s situation, making it even more difficult to get out of the crisis. We need the registration tax increase to be corrected before January 1 so that the [automotive] industry and the sector can be the driver of the Spanish economy that they have always been and will be,’ the three associations, ANFAC, Faconauto and Ganvam, declared in the ANFAC release.

Second consecutive monthly decline in Italy

In Italy, the year-on-year downturn in November reported by the industry association ANFIA was 8.3%, although the result would have been worse (down about 12%) had there not been the extra working day. This is the second consecutive month that the country is back in negative territory following the 9.5% growth in new-car registrations in September due to the new government incentives that came into effect at the beginning of August as part of the Decreto Rilancio (Relaunch Decree). While the market still contracted in that month, demand improved but delivery times delayed many registrations until September.

As in Spain, there was not ‘a full lockdown in Italy like the one we experienced in March and car dealers were – and still are – open. However, depending on the zones, there is a ‘light’ lockdown, with different restrictions that put pressure on sales as a result. Furthermore, the incentive scheme for vehicles with the highest range of CO2 emissions has been exhausted,’ commented Marco Pasquetti, forecast and data specialist of Autovista Group in Italy.

‘Without a new intervention to support the car market, the new drop in sales leaves companies with the need to reactivate layoffs, which, in any case, will not be sufficient to stem the loss of turnover today, compared to 2019, at an average value of -25%. The data on the use of the redundancy fund in the period January to October 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, show an increase of 6,000%. These are striking data that induce reflection on the cost of failure to support the car,’ highlighted Adolfo De Stefani Cosentino, president of FEDERAUTO, in the ANFIA release.

The key to the recovery of new-car markets revolves around countries agreeing on budgets for 2021, and improving economic certainty and consumer confidence to boost spending. However, with COVID-19 not yet under control, and further lockdowns possible, the industry faces a difficult end to 2020 and a challenging 2021.

Podcast: Used cars and ICE bans as manufacturers get smart

The Autovista Group Daily Brief team discusses the latest used-car figures from around Europe and the implications of internal combustion engine bans, as manufacturers establish smart-city projects to develop sustainable infrastructures…

You can listen and subscribe to receive podcasts direct to your mobile device, or browse through previous episodes, on AppleSpotifyGoogle Podcasts and search for Autovista Group Podcast on Amazon Music.

Launch Report: Mazda MX-30

The new Mazda MX-30 has an innovative crossover style that is between a compact SUV and a coupe, with design elements such as rear-hinged doors, sharp-edged wheel arches, rear lights inspired by the MX-5 roadster, and a swooping roofline.

The modern, high-quality interior features a minimalist and well-finished dashboard, and standard equipment is comprehensive, including LED headlamps, satnav, and a head-up display. With a complete list of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), safety is a strength of the MX-30, which has recently been awarded five stars by Euro NCAP.

The MX-30 charges to full battery capacity in good time, but the range of about 200km (WLTP) is relatively low, even compared to other models that are not fully charged. However, the purpose of the MX-30 is to present an eco-friendly vehicle, and the battery was selected as it has a lower impact on the environment in terms of CO2 emissions during production, as well as energy consumption. There are currently no versions with extended battery capacity, but space in the engine compartment supports rumours of a range-extender variant with an additional rotary-style engine.

List prices are typically slightly lower than for C-SUV rivals but higher than for electric hatchback models. In Germany, the €9,000 incentive for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) gives an adjusted retail price from about €23,000, which is even on a par with the petrol-powered Mazda CX-30 C-SUV.

Click here or on the image below to read Autovista Group’s benchmarking of the Mazda MX-30 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

We present new prices, forecast residual values and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

Mazda MX-30 Launch Report

Used-car transactions grow in France and Germany in October

Autovista Group senior data journalist Neil King considers the latest used-car market volumes published by the respective associations in the major European markets.

The volume of used-car transactions grew year-on-year in October 2020 in France and Germany. Used-car sales increased by 11.4% and 2.6% year-on-year respectively in France and Germany in the month, and Spain and Italy only suffered modest respective declines of 1.6% and 5.7%. Through to October, the used-car markets of France and Germany had single-digit declines, of 4.1% and 3.5% respectively, whereas there were double-digit contractions in the used-car markets of Italy and Spain.

Used-car transactions, year-on-year % change, October and year-to-date

Gebrauchtwagen-Transaktionen, Veränderung gegenüber dem Vorjahr in %, Oktober und seit Jahresbeginn

Sources: Sources: CCFA, KBA, ANFIA, GANVAM/IEA

In the UK, used-car sales data are not yet available for October, but the country’s used-car market contracted by 17.5% year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2020. The volume of used-car transactions declined in all the four tracked major continental European markets too, but the downturns were significantly less dramatic than the contractions in new-car registrations.

Used-car transactions and new-car registrations, year-on-year % change, Q1-Q3

Gebrauchtwagen-Transaktionen und Neuzulassungen, Veränderung gegenüber dem Vorjahr in %, Q1-Q3


The used-car market in the UK contracted by 17.5% in the first three quarters of 2020, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) on 10 November. However, this is only about half the downturn in new-car registrations in the country in the same period.

Following a comparatively modest decline of 8.3% in the first quarter of 2020, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown from mid-March negated growth in January and February, there was a 48.9% slump in the second quarter as dealer forecourts remained closed for most of this period.

UK busiest quarter since 2016

The used-car market rebounded to increase by 4.4% in Q3 as dealers reopened and lockdown measures were relaxed. ‘During the busiest quarter since the end of 2016, some 2,168,599 transactions took place between July and September, 92,217 more than the same period in 2019, with September recording the largest growth, up 6.3%,’ the SMMT reports.

However, as England has returned to a state of lockdown and the rest of the UK wrestles with stark rises in COVID-19 cases, the final quarter of 2020 will be challenging.

‘It is encouraging to see used-car sales returned to growth but, as the pandemic continues and outlets in many areas are being made to close again, the short-term outlook is less positive. Given these premises are often proven to be COVID-secure, we need them to reopen quickly to protect vital jobs and ensure no further delay to the fleet renewal necessary to deliver environmental improvements,’ commented Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

Continental contractions

There have been similar contractions of the used-car markets in Spain and Italy. The latter has suffered the most, with 17.3% fewer changes of ownership in the first 10 months of 2020 than a year earlier, according to the latest data published by ANFIA. Nevertheless, this compares to a 30.9% contraction of the new-car market and is a significant improvement on the 31.6% decline in used-car transactions in the first half of 2020. Many buyers of both new and used cars decided to hold off until government incentives came into effect at the beginning of August as part of the Decreto Rilancio (Relaunch Decree). This new scheme came on top of the Ecobonus scheme, which incentivises cars producing less than 20g of CO2/km.

Used-car sales fell 14.2% year-on-year in Spain in the first 10 months of 2020, according to the Spanish car dealers’ association GANVAM. This compares to a 36.8% decline in new-car registrations. As in Italy, the used-car market has recovered well, given that there were 31.7% fewer used-car transactions in the first half of 2020 than a year earlier.

However, the market turned negative in October after five months of growth. ‘This change in trend is marked, to a large extent, by the impact that the coronavirus crisis is having on operations with used cars from rental fleets, known as buybacks (since after about six months the brand has an agreement to buy back that fleet to sell it on the second-hand market). As a consequence of the fall in tourism, the car-rental companies are not renewing their fleets. In fact, registrations in this channel accumulated a drop of 60% until October and, therefore, there is a large vacuum in the supply of pre-owned used vehicles, which translates into a 34% drop in sales of second-hand models aged less than a year,’ GANVAM reports.

In France, industry association CCFA reports a modest 4.1% decline in used-car sales in the first 10 months of 2020. As elsewhere, this is a significantly better performance than the 26.9% fall in new-car registrations.

However, Germany’s used-car market has weathered the COVID-19 storm better than all the other major European countries. There were only 3.5% fewer changes of ownership in the first 10 months of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to the industry association KBA. New-car registrations have also suffered less than in the other major markets, but were still down 23.4% in the year-to-date, therefore being outperformed by used-car demand here too.

Residual-value recovery

As Europe’s used-car markets have proven more resilient than new-car markets throughout 2020, the impact on residual values (RVs) has been predominantly positive. Autovista Group’s COVID-19 tracker, which tracks 12 European markets, shows that the index of RVs, compared to early February, has returned to pre-crisis levels in all countries except Portugal and Finland. The measurements began in February, with an index value of 100.

Residual-value index of used cars, 2 February to 15 November

Restwertindex für Gebrauchtwagen, 2. Februar bis 15. November

Source: Autovista Group, Residual Value Intelligence, COVID-19 tracker

However, as Europe battles a second wave of COVID-19, new lockdowns, growing stock volumes, incentives for new cars, and rising unemployment, Autovista Group expects a downward trend for the end of the year, especially for younger cars.

Further details on the Autovista Group outlook for residual values are published in the November update of the Autovista Group whitepaper; How will COVID-19 shape used-car markets?

EU new-car registrations declined 7.8% in October

Autovista Group senior data journalist Neil King explores the latest figures released by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) as second-wave lockdowns bring more downturns.

New-car registrations in the EU declined 7.8% year-on-year in October.  Volumes fell from 1,034,669 units to 953,615. This marks a return to the market contractions suffered every month in 2020, except for the modest growth in September. The decline is an improvement on the dramatic double-digit declines suffered in March to June, and again in August, but does not bode well as the region contends with a second wave of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and lockdowns.

EU new-car registrations, year-on-year % change, January to October 2020 and year-to-date (YTD)

EU-Neuzulassungen, Veränderung gegenüber dem Vorjahr in %, Januar bis Oktober 2020 und seit Jahresbeginn (YTD)

Source: ACEA

All EU new-car markets contracted last month – apart from Ireland and Romania, which enjoyed year-on-year growth of 5.4% and 17.6% respectively. This renewed EU-wide downturn was to be expected given the year-on-year declines already reported in France, Italy, Spain, and even Germany in October.

Single-digit declines were reported in France, Germany and Italy, although the decline in Italy was just 0.2% and the result would have been positive (up by about 4%) had there not been one less working day. This follows the 9.5% growth in new-car registrations in September, due to the new government incentives that came into effect at the beginning of August as part of the Decreto Rilancio (Relaunch Decree). While the market still contracted in that month, demand improved but delivery times delayed many registrations until September and October.

On a less positive note, there was a double-digit decline of new-car registrations in Spain in October. The MOVES II and RENOVE schemes were introduced in July, and the new-car market saw a 1.1% increase in the month. Since then, however, there have been respective monthly declines of 10.1% and 13.5% in August and September, and now 21.0% in October. It is therefore clear that weak underlying consumer demand is the problem in the country. Measures to deal with the second wave of COVID-19 infections, and the calculation of the registration tax based on WLTP emissions figures from January 2021, are further complicating the recovery.

New-car registrations, year-on-year % change, October 2020 and year-to-date (YTD) 2020

Pkw-Neuzulassungen, Veränderung gegenüber dem Vorjahr in %, Oktober 2020 und seit Jahresbeginn (YTD) 2020

Source: ACEA

In the smaller EU member states, year-on-year contractions of more than 20% were reported in seven markets, including Finland, Slovakia and Slovenia. However, some markets were far more resilient, with downturns of less than 5% reported in Austria and Hungary.

Lockdown negativity replaces pent-up positivity

In the first 10 months of 2020, registrations of new cars in the EU fell by 26.8%. Even the market downturn in October continued the improvement in the year-to-date contractions, which bottomed out at 41.5% in the first five months of the year. The greatest loss among the major EU markets was in Spain, which has contracted by 36.8% in the year-to-date, ahead of only Croatia (down 43.5%) and Portugal (down 37.1%).

As the positive contribution of pent-up demand is ultimately exhausted, the second wave of COVID-19 infections, the severity, duration and geographic spread of lockdowns, and the economic fallout of COVID-19, will define how new-car markets perform in the remainder of 2020 and beyond. The key to recovery revolves around countries agreeing budgets for 2021, and improving economic certainty and consumer confidence to boost spending. The allocation of aid resources provided by the European Recovery Fund, agreed on 21 July, will also play a pivotal role in shaping the forward outlook for Europe’s new-car markets.

Manufacturer performance

Among the leading European carmakers, the BWW Group, Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan all registered more than 10% fewer new cars in the EU in October 2020 than in October 2019. Mazda suffered the greatest loss, with EU registrations down 38.0% year-on-year.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the Renault Group, however, managed to register 3.9% and 0.2% more cars respectively in the EU than in October 2019. All other major manufacturers suffered single-digit declines of between 6.2% (Honda) and 9.7% (Jaguar Land Rover) in the month.

Across Europe, manufacturers with a strong electric-vehicle portfolio are expected to perform better than those without as electrically-chargeable vehicle (EV) consumers are less likely to be tempted by used cars instead of new. This is because they tend to be less price-sensitive buyers, but there is also limited availability of the latest electric models on the used-car market. In the year-to-date, Toyota is the best-performing manufacturer in the EU, albeit with registrations down 16.9%, supporting this hypothesis.

In a new video, Autovista Group Daily Brief editor Phil Curry talks through the latest registration figures in the big four EU markets and the UK.

November – Latest whitepaper update: How will COVID-19 shape used-car markets?

The latest edition of Autovista Group’s whitepaper: How will COVID-19 shape used-car markets? considers the second wave of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections across Europe. Out of the 18 markets covered, 10 have adopted a more negative view of overall economic scenario outcomes.

The latest update to the Autovista Group whitepaper covers such topics as:

  • Three-speed RVs: Europe’s used-car prices recover to pre-crisis levels
  • A golden age for used-car markets?
  • The double-edged sword of EV government incentives?
  • Coronavirus scenarios – how swiftly will economies recover?

Residual-value (RV) outlooks have changed. 10 of the countries tracked have now changed to a more favourable position for RVs in 2020 as the landscape for the year becomes clearer. Eight countries have also confirmed their RV outlooks for 2021 and 2022.

However, RVs are also under threat from government-backed incentive schemes, designed to help the automotive industry following extensive lockdowns earlier this year. Such grants favour the purchase of new vehicles, and Autovista Group has analysed the impact on the used-car market in different regions, focusing on internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric-vehicle (EV) models. The latter looks to be under more pressure, especially in two markets.

The whitepaper shows that a ‘two-speed’ market recovery continues in Europe. This year has seen most used-car markets fare particularly well, even above pre-COVID levels. However, this is largely driven by a run for cheaper, older vehicles, as many come to rely less on public transport through fear of contracting COVID-19. Young used cars, including those coming off-lease or released by rental firms, do not see such a level of recovery and are under pressure in a number of markets.

Yet some markets, such as in Southern Europe, will not be at pre-crisis levels by the end of 2022. There are already signs of the need for some downward market correction before the end of this year.

You can find more information about how different markets are shaping up, and the various economic scenarios across the region, in the latest update of the Autovista Group whitepaper – ‘How will COVID-19 shape used car markets’ – which can be viewed here.