The auto industry suffered through a bleak 2020, with global sales falling an estimated 15 percent, but analysts say any recovery in 2021 depends on many of the same factors that have been in play since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in force last spring: successful vaccination programs and the degree of economic fallout from virus lockdowns.
Morgan Stanley analysts Harald Hendrikse and Victoria Greer said in a note to investors this week that a second wave of lockdowns continuing into 2021 would lead to 300,000 fewer auto sales in western Europe this year.
Showrooms are closed wholly or in part in Germany and the UK.
“We continue to assume a stronger [2021 fiscal year] recovery in Europe, but lockdowns are challenging that assumption,” the analysts said Wednesday.
As a result, they said, Morgan Stanley was reducing its forecast of 16 percent growth in western Europe to 14 percent for 2021, with growth prospects in eastern Europe significantly weaker, declining from 8 percent to 4 percent.
Global light vehicle sales will be up 8 percent in 2021 to 77.6 million and 4 percent in 2022 to 80.7 million, Hendrikse and Greer said.
IHS Markit is predicting that global sales will increase by 9 percent this year to 83.4 million units, as GDP grows by 4.4 percent after falling 4.5 percent in 2020.