Vehicle sales fell by 6.8 percent worldwide in July, as the world's auto markets show signs of a broad-based, but fragile recovery from coronavirus lockdowns, according to a new report from analyst firm LMC Automotive.
The global selling rate for the month rose to 86 million vehicles, continuing an increase that started in mid-April as some countries eased restrictions on movement and commerce. But sales were still down by 25 percent through July; most analysts are predicting an annual decline of no less than 20 percent for total sales of around 70 million.
At the end of June, LMC was expecting a 20 percent decline in global sales, to 70 million, and production, to about 71 million units.
LMC said, however, that it was difficult to assess the real state of the market. "One important aspect of the speed of selling rate recovery has been pent-up demand, which itself masks the current underlying level of market strength," LMC said.
Registrations in western Europe fell by 5.7 percent in the month, with incentives and scrapping plans helping the market return to pre-pandemic selling rates. At the same time, sales in eastern Europe rose by 17 percent for the month. Western Europe showed the largest loss for the year of all markets tracked by LMC, with a decline of 36 percent.
LMC forecasts that sales in western Europe will fall by 24 percent this year to 10.85 million vehicles. In contrast, sales in western Europe have been stable since 2016, fluctuating between 13.95 million and 14.3 million. That is a slight improvement from the end of June, when LMC forecasted a 26 percent drop.
Another analyst, French-based Inovev, said last week that sales in all of Europe would fall from 25 percent to 35 percent this year, with key factors including the extent of government subsidies and the progression of COVID-19.