Ireland's Publication for the refinishing & associated Industries

Pandemic will increase use of private vehicles in Europe, but will it increase sales?

While Covid-19 continues to greatly affect Europe and the rest of the world, a trend observed during the first few months of the pandemic is becoming more obvious: the use of private transport is increasing.

A recent study carried out in Italy by consulting firm Areté, stated that seven out of 10 Italians, once the health emergency is over, will use their car for traveling and only 10 per cent will use public transport again. Has this idea transferred to passenger car registrations? In June, sales decreased 23.13 per cent in Italy compared to June 2019, with a total of 132,457 registered units versus 172,312 from the previous year. A month earlier, 99,711 new cars were registered, 49.61 per cent less than in May 2019.

A study in one of Europe’s biggest markets, Spain, by consulting company Capgemini, points out that the current situation will have a great impact on consumer habits regarding the purchase and use of vehicles and two different trends will confront each other: the preference in the use of private automobiles and the economic situation.

This way, 43 per cent of Spanish that participated in the survey will prefer private vehicles over public transport. Likewise, 36 per cent are thinking about buying a vehicle, 25 per cent of them simply considering it and 11 per cent seriously thinking about it. The main reasons are the need for a vehicle (77%), better hygiene (76%), reducing the possibility of infections (68%), as well as concern regarding their health and their families’ (63%). And what about registrations? They dropped 36.7 per cent with 82,651 registered units, 47,862 less registrations than 130,513 from June 2019. However, these numbers improved the 34.337 registrations from May, down 72.7 per cent when compared with the same period from the previous year.

These are not the only examples. In the UK, a survey carried out by 7th Sense Research among public transit users and drivers, shows that only 25 per cent of drivers expect to use their cars less after the lockdown. In addition, 60 per cent of commuters in big cities will reconsider their public transport use. Does all this transfer to more registrations? In June 145,377 units were registered in the UK, a 34.9 per cent decrease compared to the same month in 2019 and a big improvement over May, when registrations dropped 89 per cent, with only 20,247 units sold.

Meanwhile in Ireland, only 3,090 new cars were registered between April and June this year, compared with the 16,632 registered in the same three months in 2019. Last month however, (July 2020) a total of 21,206 new cars were registered in Ireland. A sign of consumer confidence improving following the worst of the pandemic.

In general, most European markets showed improvement in their sales numbers once the worst of the pandemic passed. Two unknowns remain unsolved: will registrations recover between now and the end of the year? Will the private car increase mean an incentive for the used car market versus the new vehicle market?

In any case, the renovation of the vehicle pool is always a positive factor for the bodywork and paint garage, since the predisposition to repair dents and scratches in a car are inversely proportional to its age. The next few months will confirm, or not, the mentioned predictions.