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Coronavirus stalls uptake of new vehicles



The COVID-19 pandemic has partially changed the behaviour of consumers in the car market. Some of them have postponed their plans to buy new cars, and their interest in engines with alternative propulsion systems is temporarily declining.

Although the trend towards electric cars seems to be consolidating on the long term, consumers tend to look for the comfort of a known, tested and accessible technology, in the current context dominated by uncertainty, according to Deloitte 2021 Global Automotive Consumer Study, conducted in 23 countries around the world.

Most consumers who have postponed their purchase intention come from Asian countries (India – 38 per cent, Korea – 32 per cent and China – 29 per cent), while most Europeans maintain their previous plans. Among the European countries participating in the study, Italy has the highest percentage of those who postponed the purchase of new cars due to the pandemic (32 per cent), followed by Spain (29 per cent), United Kingdom (20 per cent) and France (17 per cent). Among those who changed their minds about the type of car they want to buy, many turned to cheaper car – Japan (44 per cent), China (44 per cent), Germany (48 per cent), Korea (51 per cent), USA (55 per cent) and India (65 per cent).


Regarding the preferred type of engine, in Italy, a country leader in Europe last year in terms of interest in cars equipped with alternative powertrain technology (electric or hybrid), the percentage increased from 58 per cent to 61 per cent this year. Spain is in a similar situation (62 per cent prefer alternative systems and 34 per cent the classic ones). In contrast, in Germany, the interest in clean cars has fallen from 51 per cent in 2020 to 41 per cent in 2021. In other European countries, too, consumers’ preference now leans more towards cars with conventional engines – Belgium (61 per cent), Austria (58 per cent), United Kingdom (54 per cent).

Limited driving range and the lack of charging infrastructure are the main concerns of consumers in most of the countries analyzed regarding electric cars.

“Consumers prudence is natural in times of uncertainty. In this context, it is noteworthy that Europeans are more optimistic than Asians and maintain their plans to purchase a new car. The decline in electric and hybrid cars, which can be explained by the consumers’ need for stability, is expected to be temporary and, once confidence in the overall development of the economy is restored, the concern for environmental protection and, consequently, the appetite for this type of engine will return.

“In Romania, the authorities continue to stimulate the renewal of the car fleet and especially the replacement of old cars with less polluting ones, by granting higher premiums (eco-bonuses). This year, the scrapping premium granted within Rabla Clasic program increased from 6,500 lei to 7,500 lei, and the value of the eco-bonuses were also increased. In addition, the two programs, Rabla Clasic and Rabla Plus, have been made more flexible,” said Ciprian Gavriliu, Tax Partner, Deloitte Romania.


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