EU passenger car sales to rise in 2022 as chip shortage eases

Optimistic year ahead for passenger car sales and electric vehicles after recent semiconductor chip shortage

Passenger car registrations in the European Union will return to growth in 2022 as the semi-conductor chip shortage eases, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has said.

According to the association, passenger car sales will receive a 7.9% boost this year, and are expected to rise to a total of 10.5 million units.

The expectations come despite a record-low base of comparison due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ACEA said and total sales forecasted for the year will still be almost 20% below the pre-crisis sales levels of 2019.

In light of the European Chips Act, which was published on February 9 and commits €43 billion in investment to develop research and production of semi-conductor chips across Europe, the ACEA said it was “urging the EU to reduce its reliance on overseas suppliers to avoid such damage to strategic European industries in the future.”

The association remained optimistic for the year ahead for electric vehicles, which experienced a strong uptick in 2021.

“However, we cannot forget that this is still quite a fragile market, which is highly reliant on support measures such as purchase incentives and, above all, the widespread availability of charging infrastructure,” ACEA president and CEO of BMW Group, Oliver Zipse said.

The pace of infrastructure roll-out continues to lag consumer demand for EVs, with the ACEA stating that sales of electric cars in the past five years have been growing four times faster than the build-up of charging points.

While the availability of semi-conductor chips is expected to ease this year, which could subsequently boost EV production, Brussels-based NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) told Fastmarkets EnergyCensus that obtaining permits for charging infrastructure remains the top challenge for the industry.

“For those actually deploying the infrastructure, [the chip shortage] has not been a major issue and I’d assume that this is, at least not at the moment, the real bottleneck,” T&E vehicles policy manager Fabian Sparka said.

“What is of real concern for many of them, are the planning and permitting procedures in many EU member states that can be quite difficult and lengthy,” he added.

Meanwhile, in the UK, an independent consultant at JouleVert Colin Matthews said that charging infrastructure in the UK could be squeezed further.

“If the growth of EV sales continues this year and cars are put on the road quicker as the chip shortage eases, then the increased number of users of those vehicles will exacerbate any short term charging/recharging infrastructure constraints,” Matthews told EnergyCensus.

A further crunch will be felt as a result of the expected demise of grants for home recharging, which will transfer those costs to the EV users themselves, Matthews said, “or if they decide not to have a home charging point, that will also put extra volume and pressure within the current recharging network.”

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