(Bloomberg) -- Europe’s auto market shrank for a fifth consecutive month, with record low registrations for November reflecting how slowly the industry is coming back from the depths of a supply crisis.
New-vehicle sales fell 17% to 864,119, the worst showing for the month since the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association started tracking figures in 1993. Registrations are now up just 0.8% from the first 11 months of last year.
Deliveries did improve in November from October, and the year-over-year decline was less severe than any of the prior four months. That corroborates the view of carmakers including Volkswagen AG that have predicted some improvement in semiconductor supplies during the fourth quarter.
“Given a potential recovery is still in early innings and we could have more Covid-related impacts associated with the new Omicron variant, we remain cautious,” Tom Narayan, an autos analyst at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a report earlier this month.
Registrations should improve in the first quarter as supply constraints diminish, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean said in a note. Battery-electric vehicle sales have continued to accelerate as carmakers pursue lower carbon-dioxide emissions targets, he wrote.
This applied to Germany, Europe’s biggest vehicle market, which saw a 32% drop in total sales but a 25% jump in EV deliveries. Market share for EVs in Germany and the U.K. soared to 20% and 19%, respectively.
After warning the semiconductor shortage could last for years, automakers have started to shake up their procurement strategies.
Stellantis NV signed a deal earlier this month with Foxconn owner Hon Hai Technology Group to cover more than 80% of its chip needs. Carmakers still have only a hazy view of supplies for the coming two years, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares said.
The same week, BMW AG agreed to a long-term deal to secure “several million” semiconductors a year for in-car lighting systems.
The industry should brace for the shortage to last beyond 2022, as chipmakers aren’t investing in additional supply to make the older semiconductors typically used in today’s car models, consultancy Roland Berger said this week.
Automakers have been able to soften the blow by prioritizing production of their most profitable models and raising prices. Scarce inventory also has driven up values of used vehicles and helped buoy car companies’ finance units.
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