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Ecomotive

13/11/2019
Automotive, a struggling market

However, positive signals are coming from “eco-friendly” vehicles and alternative fuels

Paolo Castiglia

The current industrial scenario is far from ideal, but perhaps not so dramatic: in July 2019, motor vehicles witnessed their index fall by 5.6% compared to the previous month, while bodies, trailers and semi-trailers grew by 4.2%. On the other hand, motor vehicles parts and accessories fell by 1%.

However, these Anfia data are not all depressing, in fact, positive vibes are coming from alternative fuels: still according to Anfia, gas powered trucks recorded, during the January-August 2019 period, a share of 6.6%. Going into more details, natural gas powered trucks grew by 64.1% and LNG powered trucks by 41.4%. Nevertheless, the total number of orders in the automotive sector did show a downward trend in June 2019, a -16%, mostly on the domestic market, which fell by 18.4%, while orders from foreign markets fell by 12.4%.

The greatest cause of concern relate to the most recent figures, August for example: the trend in sales, both for trucks, trailers and semi-trailers, continues to be negatively affected by delays in the long-awaited 2019-2020 investment policies and incentives, and in August 2019 only 1.165 new truck registration documents were released (-22.4% compared to August 2018) and 691 new trailer and semi-trailer registration documents, over 3,500 kg (-10.7%), divided into 67 trailers (-19.3%) and 624 semi-trailers (-9.7%).

A negative trend was therefore confirmed in the first eight months of 2019: 16,813 new truck registration documents, 4.8% less than in the same period in 2018, and 10,508 new heavy trailers and semi-trailers (-6.2% compared to January-August 2018), broken down as follows: 1,003 trailers (-2.1%) and 9,505 semi-trailers (-6.7%). The problem is that current uncertainties, not linked to political changes, is prompting companies to postpone investments, with the consequent stagnation of an already declining market.

On the other hand, looking at vehicles with a mass of 3.5 tonnes, the market proved quite positive. Unrae, in fact, confirms the vitality of the commercial vehicle market. In July and August, according to estimates published by the Study and Statistics Centre of the European Manufacturers' Association, registrations were up by 3.9% with 15,267 units (compared to 14,689) and 6.7% with 9,458 vehicles (compared to 8,864), respectively. The first 8 months of the year recorded a total of 121,165 registrations, a 6.5% increase compared to the 113,800 units sold during the January-August period last year.

"Starting September 1 - says Michele Crisci, president of Unrae - the new European standards for vehicles registration based on real emissions tests, until now mandatory only for cars, came into force, even for commercial vehicles. The market does not seem to have been altered by a surge of Euro 6-D vehicles in stock, as almost all car manufacturers disposed of older models as usual during the previous months”. "The positive performance - continues the President of Unrae - is due mainly to the benefits of the 'super-amortization', in a framework that requires structural interventions aimed at speeding up the replacement of older vehicles. According to the latest estimates of our Research Centre, in fact, as of 30 June 2019, half of the National fleet still consisted of pre-Euro 4 vehicles, i.e. those over 14 years of age".

The passenger transport market is still going through some ups and downs: in August, the bus market, especially those weighing over 3,500 kg recorded 534 units sold, reporting a slight decrease of (-0.2%). In the same month, only minibuses showed a strong negative sign (-30.4%), while all other sectors grew: +2.4% for buses used on Public Passenger Transport, +1.5% for tourist buses and minibuses and +45.5% for school buses. In the first eight months of 2019, 2,836 new bus registrations were issued, compared to 3,041 in January-August 2018, with a downward trend of 6.7%. Only school buses maintained a positive trend (+10.1%).

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