Global and domestic car sales to drop this year from pandemic-peak 2020

2021.01.13 13:37:31 | 2021.01.13 13:38:13

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Global auto sales this year would stay subdued under 80 million units for the second straight year this year and sales in Korea will fall from pandemic-peak year as normalization will likely take more than three years, a think tank under Hyundai Motor projected.

“The recovery pace would be slower this year despite an ease in the pandemic spread. It could take three years or more to return to post-Covid level of 2019,” said Lee Dong-heon, head of regional analysis division at the Global Business Intelligence Center under South Korean auto conglomerate Hyundai Motor Group in an online seminar Tuesday.

“Car sales are expected to rise from the first half of this year in advanced nations and from the second half in developing countries,” Lee added, projecting full-year sales this year would stop at 79.1 billion units, equivalent to 91 percent of 2019 sales.

By region, China would be the only winner with sales of an estimated 21.4 million units exceeding the 2019 record of 20.8 million. Sales in the United States and the European Union are forecast to reach 15.5 million units and 15.3 million units, respectively, taking up 99 percent and 82 percent of their 2019 achievements.

Korea and emerging economies also are expected to see their vehicle sales stop at 99 percent (1.73 million units) and 82 percent (13.07 million units) of their 2019 sales each.

Global automobile market this year will likely be reorganized with expansion of sport utility vehicles and electric vehicles. SUV sales are estimated to rise further to take up 42.6 percent of total global sales in 2021, up from 41.9 percent in 2020, according to the think tank. In the U.S., the ratio would reach above 50 percent, it added.

Electric vehicles also will be gaining more ground in Europe, the U.S. and China. Various new models are scheduled to come out this year including Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.4, Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo, and Mercedes-Benz EQS. EV sales this year are expected to gain 37.5 percent on year to 6.25 million units, of which 37.6 percent or 2.35 million units are all-electric models.

“Companies will show a different pace of business recovery amid rising uncertainties (from the virus pandemic). Those who can create a virtuous circle by investing in future mobility sectors with the proceeds from their finished car business will be able to enjoy new opportunities,” said Lee.

The think tank released dismal outlook for the global economy as well. The shock from the Covid-19 pandemic will last by the end of the first half with poor corporate earnings and rising debts, leaving less room for economic stimulus to governments.

“Transition to digital, green economy will be accelerated, and the income gap between the top and bottom will be worsened,” Lee added.

By Park Yun-gu and Lee Ha-yeon

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