German new-car registrations fell 5.4% in July

05 August 2020

5 August 2020

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.