Fuel Type: Vollhybrid (HEV)

Making the CASE for advanced commercial vehicles

Advanced automotive systems including connected cars, autonomous driving, shared vehicles, and electromobility (CASE), are experiencing exponential development as OEMs undergo digitalisation. While many of these technologies might be associated with high-end luxury passenger cars, manufacturers are also exploring commercial vehicle applications.

Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) recently announced it would combine its CASE technologies with the commercial vehicle foundations cultivated by Isuzu Motors (Isuzu) and Hino Motors (Hino) as part of a new collaborative effort. Meanwhile, Renault’s light commercial vehicle (LCV) offering is undergoing its own energy transition, emphasising electric and hydrogen drivetrains for its upcoming models.

A commercial CASE

Through their new partnership, Toyota, Isuzu and Hino hope to accelerate the adoption and implementation of CASE technologies. As well as addressing various difficulties facing the transport industry, the three companies hope their collaboration will help the progression towards a carbon-neutral society.

In a press conference, the manufacturers explained small commercial-purpose trucks would be used to help develop battery electric vehicles (BEVs), electric platforms, and fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Given the expensive developmental costs of BEVs and FCEVs, this collective approach makes sense. Toyota, Isuzu and Hino are also planning to advance the implementation of infrastructure. This will include introducing FCEV trucks to hydrogen-based society demonstrations in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture.

The partnership will also look to accelerate the development of autonomous and other advanced systems. By building a connected technology platform for commercial vehicles, they hope to provide logistical solutions to improve transport efficiency as well as reducing CO2 emissions.

‘CASE technologies can only contribute to society once they become widespread,’ the companies explained. ‘Commercial vehicles can play important roles in dissemination, as they travel long distances for extended periods of time to support the economy and society and can be easily linked with infrastructure development. And from the standpoint of carbon neutrality, commercial vehicles can especially fulfil a key function.’

Forming new ties

To promote the partnership, the manufacturers will form a new business called Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corporation. This new company will be focused on mapping out CASE technologies and services for commercial vehicles. Moving forward, the collaboration will not only deepen, but open up to other like-minded partners.

Isuzu and Toyota have also agreed on a capital partnership to advance their collaborative efforts. Through a cancelation of treasury stock through a third-party allotment, Toyota is scheduled to acquire 39 million shares of its common stock worth a total of ¥42.8 billion (€332 million).

This will leave Toyota with 4.6% ownership of Isuzu in terms of total issued shares as of the end of September 2020 and a post-allotment voting rights ratio at Isuzu of 5.02%. Isuzu also plans to acquire Toyota shares of the same value through a market purchase.

Renault’s zero-emission solutions

Meanwhile, Renault is renewing and expanding its LCV range, with new versions of the Kangoo, the Express, the Trafic Combi and the SpaceClass. The manufacturer is also developing its Renault Pro+ services, offering turnkey digital and connectivity solutions.

Through this work Renault is looking to support the transmission to zero-emissions. The new Kangoo Van E-TECH Electric is expected by the end of 2021, picking up where the Kangoo ZE left off. It will be equipped with a 44kWh battery, offering a range of 265km. The OEM also offers fleet charging solutions with its subsidiary, Elexent. 

Before the end of the year, Renault will unveil the Master ZE Hydrogen, an alternative to the diesel Master. With its hydrogen partner Plug Power, the manufacturer is looking to capture 30% of the European hydrogen LCV market by 2030.

Smart zero-emission vans promise greater development of green and connected technology for the wider automotive sector. Commercial vehicles spend their lives on the road, meaning any new drivetrain and technology must be well-designed and long-lasting. This know-how can then be utilised by the passenger-car segment, as these systems are stress-tested.

However, these technologies must first be adopted. As demonstrated by the European Automobile Manufacturer Association’s (ACEA’s) latest figures, diesel still reigned supreme last year in the new-LCV segment. Accounting for 92.4% of the van market, the fuel type was leagues ahead of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) which garnered a 2% share. In reality, the adoption of these new drive trains will likely be mandated by zero-emissions policies created at national and international levels.

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

The remarketing risk of EVs

The remarketing of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) is examined by Autovista Group experts in our latest webinar. The mixed approach across Europe to provide stimuli for EV sales is paying off, with forecasters predicting a 40% market share for the technology by 2030. Does the increase in registrations trigger new remarketing risks? The panel considers whether the increasing sales of EVs will impact RV performance over the next three years. It also looks at potential differences in risk between BEV and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

You can view the entire webinar below, or download the slide deck here.

Autovista Group will be running a number of webinars looking at automotive trends this year. To be notified of upcoming events, subscribe to the Autovista Group Daily Brief.

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

Daimler to become Mercedes-Benz as it spins off truck business

Daimler is to undergo a fundamental change in its structure, spinning off its trucks business and renaming itself Mercedes-Benz. The move is intended to help the company unlock the full potential of its business in a zero-emission future.

Daimler Truck will become a listed company with a majority stake distributed to Daimler shareholders. Mercedes-Benz will continue to develop models for both the passenger car and van markets. Diverging the business will allow each unit to focus on new technologies that are impacting their respective sectors.

Signs of a shift in policy emerged last year when Daimler announced it was developing hydrogen systems for its trucks business while cancelling plans for fuel-cell-powered cars. As the commercial and car markets are likely to take different paths towards zero-emissions, each company will now be able to put funding and resources into its own development rather than share the pot and restrict development as a result. The split is expected to occur at the end of this year, with an extra-ordinary shareholder meeting in Q3 to discuss the final plans and obtain approval.

Corporate structure

‘This is a historic moment for Daimler. It represents the start of a profound reshaping of the company. Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans and Daimler Trucks & Buses are different businesses with specific customer groups, technology paths and capital needs.’ said Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of management of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz.

‘Both companies operate in industries that are facing major technological and structural changes. Given this context, we believe they will be able to operate most effectively as independent entities, equipped with strong net liquidity and free from the constraints of a conglomerate structure,’ he added.

As part of a more focused corporate structure, both Mercedes-Benz and Daimler Truck will be supported by dedicated captive financial and mobility service entities. The company plans to assign resources and teams from its current Daimler Mobility business to both brands.

‘We have confidence in the financial and operational strength of our two vehicle divisions. And we are convinced that independent management and governance will allow them to operate even faster, invest more ambitiously, target growth and cooperation, and thus be significantly more agile and competitive,’ commented Källenius.

Sustainability needs

Daimler had been struggling in recent years, announcing a series of profit warnings and initially struggling with its CO2 targets following the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light-Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). Last year, the company managed to turn things around, tripling sales of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery-electric (BEV) vehicles, and forecasting that it met its emissions figures to avoid any EU-sanctioned penalties.

‘We will continue to push forward with our ’Electric first’ strategy and the further expansion of our electric model initiative. Based on our current knowledge, we expect to meet the CO2 targets in Europe again in 2021,’ said Källenius.

With separate CO2 targets for passenger cars and trucks, Daimler will be keen to keep up this momentum, especially with stricter EU regulations for 2025 and 2030. Therefore, separating its trucks business will give Mercedes-Benz more focus on ensuring it meets guidelines by focusing on its electrification plans.

Further strategy

In October, Daimler unveiled a raft of plans that would see Mercedes-Benz focus on the luxury market with a shift to electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs). The company plans for the number of internal combustion engine (ICE) models it offers to drop 70% by 2030. Part of this plan could see its range of compact models decrease as it focuses its product portfolio on the most profitable parts of the market.

‘We intend to build the world’s most desirable cars,’ said Källenius at the time. ‘It is about leveraging our strengths as a luxury brand to grow economic value and enhancing the mix and positioning of our product portfolio. We will unlock the full potential of our unique sub-brands – AMG, Maybach, G and EQ. Our strategy is designed to avoid non-core activities to focus on winning where it matters: dedicated electric vehicles and proprietary car software. We will take action on structural costs, target strong and sustained profitability.’

By divesting itself of Daimler Trucks, the carmaker can now focus on expanding new technologies in the passenger car market, including expanding its EQ line-up of BEVs. It plans to increase its range in the shortest space of time, meaning product development resources and expertise will be shifted to electric-drive projects.

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.

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%.

Alternative drives made up a quarter of German registrations in 2020

Alternative drives, consisting of hybrid, fuel-cell, gas, hydrogen, and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), claimed approximately a quarter of all new-car registrations in Germany in 2020. This result came in a year defined by COVID-19, when registrations in the country declined by roughly 20%.

The country’s government sought to use the pandemic as a springboard for a greener economy, with a greater emphasis on electromobility. In November last year, it committed a €4 billion stimulus package to the automotive sector, with funds being channelled into the adaptation of production lines and incentivising the purchase of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs).

An electric transformation

With the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA) reporting the number of newly-registered BEVs increased by 206% in 2020, compared with 2019, the German automotive market does look to be on track for an electric transformation. Some 13.5% of all newly-registered passenger cars in the country now sport an electrified drivetrain, from BEVs to plug-in electric hybrids (PHEVs) and fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The federal states of Schleswig-Holstein, Berlin and Baden-Württemberg played host to a high share of these new EV registrations last year, at over 16%.

‘E-mobility is now at the heart of mobile society. Positive user experiences, reliable technologies and a growing range of products facilitate the switch to e-mobility. With a sustained trend for registrations of vehicles with electric powertrains, around 22% in the last quarter of 2020, the government target of seven to 10 million electric vehicles registered in Germany by the year 2030 can be achieved,’ said KBA President Damm.

Segments and brands

The small-car segment was the strongest, accounting for 29.9% of registrations of new BEVs in 2020. Meanwhile, SUVs made up just under a fifth of the registration volume of new BEVs. The compact segment also reached a high share of this type, with 19.6%.

For BEVs, private registrations made up almost half of all registrations, at 48.8%. For all alternative powertrains, two-thirds were commercial (63.5%), and one third (35.4%) were private. Overall, some 63% of all new-car registrations, including petrol and diesel, were registered for commercial use in 2020. 

A total of 394,940 new EVs were registered last year. VW passenger cars claimed the highest market share at 17.4%, up 608.6% compared with 2019. Meanwhile, Mercedes enjoyed a 14.9% share, up 499.8%, and Audi took 9%, up 607.9%. A total of 194,163 new BEVs were registered in the country in 2020. The VW brand claimed a 23.8% share of this volume, representing a 463.3% increase on the previous year. Renault then followed with a share of 16.2%, up 233.8%, and Tesla captured 8.6%, up 55.9%.

VW achieved the largest share of the EV parc, with 16%, pulling ahead of BMW at 12.3%, and Mercedes at 12.1%. For BEVs, VW claimed a 20.2% share, this time ahead of Renault at 18.1%, Smart at 11.6% and Tesla at 11.1%.

Around 70% of the battery-electric car parc was allocated to the small-car (33%), compact (19.6%) and mini (17.3%) segments. The stock of battery-electric passenger cars in the SUV segment, which has a high number of registrations, reached a share of 14.4%.

While the KBA has yet to confirm the total number of new-car registrations in 2020, at the end of last year Autovista Group’s Schwacke projected a recovery to just under 3.1 million in 2021. This would follow an expected registration volume of 2.9 million new cars in Germany in 2020.

European Commission’s sustainable mobility strategy far from reality, says ACEA

The European Commission has drawn back the curtain on its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, with an action plan of 82 initiatives that will direct transport policy in Europe. It sets out how the EU’s transportation network can achieve its green and digital transformation, resulting in a 90% cut in emissions within the next 30 years. These new initiatives will set the standard over the next four years, with additional industry targets set for 2030, 2035 and 2050.

While the automotive sector has recognised the need to boost the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has warned that some of the Commission’s ambitions could be a stretch. It explains the industry already dedicates much of its yearly €60.9 billion research and development budget to decarbonisation, as electromobility and digitisation shape a cleaner future.

Sustainable milestones

By providing clear milestones, the European Commission hopes to keep the transport system’s journey towards a smart and sustainable future on track. This includes ensuring there are at least 30 million zero-emission cars in operation by 2030, as well as the large-scale deployment of automated mobility, and climate neutrality in 100 European cities.

By 2050, the Commission wants nearly all cars, vans, busses and new heavy goods vehicles to be zero emission. It also expects there to be a fully-operational, multimodal Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) for sustainable and smart transport with high-speed connectivity.

‘To reach our climate targets, emissions from the transport sector must get on a clear downward trend,’ said Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president for the European Green Deal. ‘Today’s strategy will shift the way people and goods move across Europe and make it easy to combine different modes of transport in a single journey. We’ve set ambitious targets for the entire transport system to ensure a sustainable, smart, and resilient return from the COVID-19 crisis.’

82 initiatives

To achieve these goals, the Commission’s strategy outlines 82 initiatives within 10 key areas for action. So, for transport to become more sustainable, practical measures will need to be taken. This includes boosting the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, which can be targeted by installing three million public charging points and 1,000 hydrogen filling stations by 2030. The strategy also outlines the need to make urban mobility healthy and sustainable, for instance, by doubling high-speed rail traffic and developing extra cycling infrastructure over the next decade.

In terms of smart innovations, the Commission wants to see more connected and automated mobility, like allowing freight to seamlessly switch between transport modes. The strategy also plans on boosting the use of data and artificial intelligence, which could include supporting the deployment of drones and unmanned aircraft.

Reality check

Taking note of the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, ACEA acknowledged the objective of boosting the uptake of zero-emission cars. However, it warned the ambition to have 30 million of them across European roads by 2030 could be unrealistic. ‘Unfortunately, this vision is far removed from today’s reality,’ cautioned ACEA director-general, Eric-Mark Huitema.

New research by the association points out that of the 243 million passenger cars on the road in Europe last year, less than 615,000 fell into the zero-emission category, making up less than 0.25% of the whole car fleet. ‘To meet the Commission’s objective, we would need to see an almost 50-fold increase in zero-emission cars in circulation on our roads in just 10 years,’ Huitema explained.

He went on to say that despite industry investment and a growing market share, not all the right conditions were in place yet to take such a massive leap, such as the availability of charging points. ‘The European Commission should match its level of ambition for rolling out infrastructure across the EU with its ambition for reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles. It is quite simple: the higher the climate targets become, the higher targets for charging points and refuelling stations should be. Unfortunately, we still see a mismatch between these two elements at EU level,’ he warned.

recent report by ACEA identifies the need for the deployment of 15 times more infrastructure over the next 11 years to meet the Commission’s target of three million public charging points, up from 200,000 last year. The association is therefore calling again for an urgent review of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive, to push national governments to invest.

‘Experience has shown us that a voluntary approach to these infrastructure targets does not work,’ stated Huitema. ‘While some EU countries have been very active, others have done little or nothing. The AFID review really must include binding infrastructure targets for member states.’

Apart from infrastructure, ACEA also identified other necessary measures to encourage consumers to make the switch to zero-emission mobility. This included the need for more aggressive carbon pricing, the continuation of fleet renewal schemes, as well as the re-training of sector workers.

Launch Report: Hyundai i20 – sportier and more attractive

The third-generation Hyundai i20 has a stronger, sportier, and more attractive design, with tight lines and a prominent rear-quarter window, reveals the latest model launch report from Autovista Group. The model is longer and wider, which translates into more interior roominess and a 352-litre boot, which is among the largest in the B-segment.

The level of standard equipment is high and so the i20 has a very limited number of individual options available. This makes it easy for customers to configure vehicles and leads to many well-equipped used cars. The digital instrument cluster and central touchscreen in particular support the attractiveness of the interior, and strike a good balance between too many buttons and too few.

The report notes that the engine offer is rather limited, with only two petrol engines and no diesel, electric or full-hybrid versions. There is a mild-hybrid (MHEV) version but this has a battery in the spare-wheel well, reducing the boot volume to 262 litres.

The B-segment is very competitive and the i20 faces strong rivals, such as the Opel/Vauxhall CorsaRenault Clio, SEAT Ibiza and VW Polo. Given that the segment is mainly driven by price considerations, the list prices of the i20 are rather high. In Spain for example, the price of the i20 version under review is in line with the Corsa and Polo, but it is more expensive than the best-selling SEAT Ibiza.

Nevertheless, in Germany, the i20 has recently won AutoBild magazine’s ‘Goldenes Lenkrad 2020’ – a popular reader’s choice award – in the category for cars with a list price below €25,000.

Click here or on the image below to read Autovista Group’s benchmarking of the Hyundai i20 in France, Germany and Spain. The interactive launch report presents new prices, forecast residual values and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

Launch Report: Hyundai i20

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

As coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns are left behind, thoughts turn to economic recovery. However, as the latest update to the Autovista Group whitepaper ‘How will COVID-19 shape used car markets’ explains, in the last month, the situation has taken a gloomier turn.

Since the production of the previous report, the view of the crisis and its economic impact has darkened. Forecasts have been declining since the pandemic struck Europe, but they seem to not have fully bottomed out, yet.

In our July update of this whitepaper, 10 out of 18 markets assigned the highest risk to scenario three, ‘medium risk: slow u-shaped recovery.’ In this August update, 12 out of 18 markets have moved into this scenario.

Residual value impact

The whitepaper also highlights the impact on residual values (RVs) depending on the most probable scenario and country-specific circumstances.

The majority of countries assign a higher probability to the medium risk scenario 3, which describes a drop in RVs that is more substantial and drags on longer than scenario 2 countries. Towards the end of 2022, used cars will – on average – still trade around 3% lower than in March 2020. But there are substantial country differences in this scenario cluster.

Looking at the data presented, it becomes apparent that Southern Europe may be impacted worst, and will also suffer the longest. The Nordic region has received the most extensive adjustments in this whitepaper update. In Sweden and Finland, there are no government incentives directly supporting the automotive industry.

Three-speed RVs

Autovista Group has developed a COVID-19 tracker, which follows recent RV developments in 12 European markets. The indexed tracker starts in February, with a value of 100. In the UK and France, the tracker shows that the index of RVs has risen since mid-May and peaked at 103.7 (a 3.7% rise) in the UK and 101.8 (a 1.8% rise) in France in the week to 2 August.

Autovista Group anticipates a slowdown in the RV development in France and our latest residual-value outlook calls for prices of used cars to be 0.3% lower in France at the end of 2020 than when the Covid-19 crisis erupted in Europe, in March. Nevertheless, this is the most resilient expectation for all the European markets, according to the whitepaper.

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

A golden age for used-car markets?

As the automotive industry starts its recovery following the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns, there is a notion of unexpected recovery visible in some markets. Is this pointing towards a golden age for used-car markets? Christof Engelskirchen, Autovista Group’s chief economist, talks with Anne Lange, head of data science, and Markus Halonen, head of research, statistics & data analysis at Autovista Group, about signs of recovery and the root causes for different market reactions in the used-car market at this time.

Christof: Are we in a phase of the market, where the trends that we see can already be safely interpreted or is it is more affected by external events? I am referring to the massive incentive scheme in France, also for used-car buying, which has pushed RVs up. I am also referring to the weak-British-pound- and supply-shortage-induced lack of new and used cars on the market that meets pent-up demand and lifts prices?

Anne: There are certainly some anomalies affecting current used-car price trends. For example, the French incentive scheme, that subsidises used-car buying and drives RVs up and the UK’s shortage of supply of new and used cars, that also drives RVs up.

There is one emerging trend that may last longer: people may exhibit a financial cautiousness and rather turn to a used-car than a new-car. The lack of available new cars further compounds this. In addition, those that used to rely on public transport may opt for some budget alternatives, thus driving up demand for older used-cars.

Markus: The reason for the decreasing active stock (number of active adverts) is simply that dealers are selling more cars than they are buying in. For example, in Finland and Sweden, the used-car selling volume has been at a high level lately. In June this year, used-car retail sales volumes were higher than in June 2019. High sales but lower than normal inflow of used cars keeps the stock falling. We have some anomalies, like the French used-car incentive scheme, pushing RVs up. Still, even in those countries where schemes are different or non-existent, there are commonalities: used-car sales volume is at a good level, stock is decreasing and prices are increasing. On top of what Anne said, a reason for the currently good demand for used cars is that people are spending less money on vacation and spent less during the lockdown. Patterns of consumption have changed, at least temporarily. Used-car markets are seeing the benefits.

Christof: People ask you many questions around our methodology for publishing used-car price development. How sensitive is our methodology to outliers? How do we control for irregular market conditions? What is the lag in our published values, i.e. how quickly are we capturing trends that may emerge?

Markus: Our methodology is based on market observation data that we source from various portals all across Europe on a daily basis. We control for outliers, data errors and non-actively managed cars. This works reliably.

I am not sure what the background is on the question of controlling irregular market conditions. Irregular market conditions like the COVID-19 pandemic affect used-car prices and that is what we are capturing with our data models. For measurement accuracy, we have implemented rolling values, where past days’ trends are captured as well as the current day’s realities. We put more weight on recent values in the statistical models. There is only a very small lag in how fast we see emerging trends, much smaller than for any economic modelling.

The full interview can be read here. In it, Lange and Halonen discuss the trends emerging for old and young used-cars across Europe, and whether dealer activity has picked up following COVID-19 lockdowns. Their answers are backed up by data showing the emerging patterns of used-car prices and stock levels in the market.

German new-car registrations fell 5.4% in July and Spain

German new-car registrations dropped by 5.4% in July, compared with the same month in 2019. A total of 314,938 new cars were registered, according to the latest figures from the automotive authority Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA).

This is the greatest performance of the German market since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic put sales on lockdown. The government announced a COVID-19 economic recovery package at the start of June. It looks to boost the sales of low- and zero-emission cars while investing in green transport infrastructure. Conversely, petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles did not feature in the package. Incentives were extended since 1 July, supporting registrations.

The country endured declines of 32.2% in June, 49.5% in May and 61.1% in April. However, Germany now lags behind France, Spain and the UK, which saw 3.9%, 1.1%, and 11.3% year-on-year rises respectively in July. Overall, the number of private registrations in Germany rose last month by 7.1% to a share of 41%.

How brands fared

There was a mixed performance among German brands. Double-digit growth was recorded for the likes of Mini at 35.7%, followed by BMW with 17.4%, and Mercedes at 10.7%. Porsche saw single-digit growth of 2.4%. For other brands, however, there were significant decreases in new-car registrations compared with the same month last year. Smart was down 51.6%, Opel dropped by 45.2%, Ford by 22.5%, Audi by 20.8% and VW by 3.3%. At 19%, the VW brand accounted for the largest brand share of new registrations.

Among the imported brands, increases were recorded among Subaru, up 63.9%, Jeep, up 42.2%, and Mitsubishi, up 33.4%. In contrast, declines were recorded for Tesla at 66.6%, Land Rover 39.9%, Jaguar 38.9%, Alfa Romeo 33.6% and Dacia 32.1%. With a new-car registration share of 7% (up 8.3%), Skoda was once again the largest import brand in the monthly balance.

How types fared

Year-on-year registration increases were recorded for motorhomes (94.7%), small cars (9.5%), SUVs (3.1%) and the luxury class (2.7%). The remaining segments recorded declines. Compact MPVs dropped by 49.5%, full-size MPVs were down 39.8%. The segment with the highest share was SUVs with 21.8%, closely followed by the compact class with 21.1%.

Registrations of petrol-powered vehicles fell by 20.3%, with a share of 49% at 154,352 new vehicles. Some 89,543 cars were equipped with diesel-powered engines. After a decline of 18.6%, their market share was 28.4%.

Compared with July 2019, alternative drivetrains showed growth, in some cases in the three-digit range. The number of electric vehicles (EVs) grew by 181.7% to 16,798 new vehicles, bringing their new-car registration share to 5.3%. A total of 52,488 hybrids generated growth of 143.5%, equalling a share of 16.7%. This included 19,119 plug-in hybrids (PHEV), up 484.7% with a share of 6.1%. With 933 new cars and a registration increase of 13.8%, natural gas-powered vehicles achieved a share of 0.3%. By contrast, 784 liquid gas-powered passenger cars recorded a decline of 4.2% with a share of 0.2%. Average CO2 emissions fell by 8.7% to 144.5 g/km.

Business expectations rise

These latest figures support a rise in business expectations by German automotive companies, as revealed by the Ifo Institute’s latest survey. Outlooks improved considerably for the second consecutive month in July, with carmakers also expecting exports to grow. Demand expectations also strengthened somewhat compared to the previous month, alongside production outlook.

However, the institute’s business situation indicator remained negative in July. ‘Headcount developments remain worrying,’ said Klaus Wohlrabe, head of surveys at Ifo. Outlook on personnel planning rose weakly but remained worse than during the 2009 financial crisis.

Incentives generate growth in July new-car registrations in France and Spain

The automotive trade associations in France and Spain report that new-car registrations grew by 3.9% and 1.1% year-on-year respectively in July. Both markets are being stimulated by government-backed incentives, although the scrappage scheme for older cars has already been exhausted in France. Autovista Group senior data journalist Neil King discusses the latest developments.

As Europe continues its emergence from coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns, Autovista Group expected that new-car registration figures would continue to improve in July. Thanks to incentive schemes offered by their respective governments to help the automotive market in the wake of the disruption, both France and Spain even recorded positive growth compared to the same month last year.

New-car registrations were 3.9% higher in France in July 2020 than in July 2019, according to the latest data released by the CCFA, the French automotive industry association. This is an improvement on the 1.2% year-on-year growth in new-car registrations in the country in June and the tally of 178,982 registrations is even more impressive as there was one less working day in July 2020 than in July 2019 (22 versus 23). Based on a comparable number of working days, the CCFA reports that the market expanded by 8.6% in the month.

Whereas the incentives introduced on 1 June for new battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) remain, the additional bonus for trading in older cars for cleaner new and used cars was exhausted before the end of July. The scrappage scheme reached its 200,000-vehicle cap after just two months, but the Ministry of Ecological Transition announced it would be replacing the recovery scheme with a conversion bonus. Applicable from 3 August, it will closely resemble one that had been in place several years before coronavirus (COVID-19) struck Europe.

In Spain, 117,929 new cars were registered in July, 1.1% more than in July 2019, according to ANFAC, the Spanish vehicle manufacturers’ association. ‘This boost to sales is having very positive consequences for the recovery of employment throughout the value chain. Dealers already have 90% of their workforce working, around 150,000 employees, and in factories, recovery rates exceed 85%. The Spanish market is especially important for Spanish factories because one in four vehicles manufactured in the country is sold within our borders,’ ANFAC commented.

New-car registrations, France and Spain, year-on-year percentage change, July and year-to-date 2020

Pkw-Neuzulassungen, Frankreich und Spanien, Veränderung gegenüber dem Vorjahr in Prozent, Juli und seit Jahresbeginn 2020


Late reopening, MOVES II and RENOVE schemes boost Spain

There was a phased approach to relaxing the lockdown measures in Spain, which largely explains why the new-car market was still weak, even in June. However, dealers can now fully reopen, and the introduction of the MOVES II incentive scheme for new BEVs and PHEVs and the RENOVE scrappage scheme have further stimulated the Spanish market since their introduction in early July.

Under the MOVES II scheme, buyers of new BEVs and PHEVs costing less than €45,000 are entitled to a total subsidy of €5,000 (€4,000 from the government and €1,000 from the manufacturer). Buyers can also receive an additional bonus of €500 if they trade in a car to be scrapped that is over seven years of age.

Cars with other fuel types are not eligible for the MOVES II new-car incentive but can still benefit from the RENOVE scrappage scheme. When scrapping a car over ten years of age, buyers of hybrids, mild-hybrids and CNG or LPG cars costing less than €35,000 receive a bonus up to €2,000 – half provided by the government and half by the manufacturer. For cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) costing less than €35,000 and with CO2 emissions lower than 120g per kilometre, the maximum bonus is €1,600.

Both the MOVES II and RENOVE schemes have been applied retroactively to 1 January 2020, and so both new and young used cars are eligible for the subsidies in order to avoid potential stock problems.

‘The positive registrations of passenger cars in the month of July reflect the significant boost given to the market by the RENOVE 2020 plan, a boost that allows economic activity and employment to be recovered and advances the decarbonisation of the parc by compulsory scrapping,’ commented Noemi Navas, director of communications for ANFAC.

Maintaining mobilisation

The end of the scrappage scheme in France, in conjunction with dissipating pent-up demand, means new-car registrations are unlikely to maintain their positive growth in the coming months. Spain invariably faces the same challenges.

Raúl Morales, communications director of Faconauto, said: ‘From now on, the challenge is to maintain this mobilisation of the market to strengthen the recovery. And the good news is that the RENOVE has room to be more decisive since approximately 20% of registrations have utilised it since it has been operational.’

‘Although with these figures we are seeing a V-shaped recovery, we must be very cautious, and the key will be in September, which is when the impact of the coronavirus crisis will be seen in business. The key to recovery, in a black year also for tourism, will be to get the pact to approve the budgets and to articulate as soon as possible the arrival of the aid approved by Europe,’ cautioned Tania Puche, director of communications of the Spanish trade association Ganvam.

As it stands, Ana Azofra, valuations and insights manager at Autovista Group in Spain, said that the forecast for Spain is still for a 40-45% decline for new cars in 2020 and 20-25% for used cars. How the new plans develop and European funds are allocated will largely dictate the outlook going forward.