Swiss new-car registrations slump as used-car market recovers

20 December 2021

Hans-Peter Annen, head of valuations and insights at Eurotax Switzerland, analyses how the Swiss automotive market is holding up.

As elsewhere in Europe, the Swiss new-car market has been in crisis as a result of COVID-19, with registrations consistently sitting below pre-pandemic levels. Despite full order books, a lack of semiconductors and other raw materials is causing delays in the delivery of new vehicles, thus preventing a swift recovery.

These predicaments are drastically reflected in the latest new-car registration figures. A total of 18,825 new passenger cars were registered in November 2021, which is down 17.6% year on year, and represents a decrease of 22.3% compared to the same month in 2019. In total, 213,958 cars were registered by the end of November 2021, an increase of only 3.2% compared with the miserable last year, but still down 22.7% compared to 2019. No significant improvement is in sight for the rest of the year and the market is not expected to recover until 2022.

New-car registrations by month: 2018-2021

Source: Eurotax/ASTRA-IVZ

Used-car bounce

The used-car market, on the other hand, has been at a high since summer 2020 and is bolstered by stable demand with low supply. Even last year, the number of used-car transactions was 830,634 (down 2.1%), sitting only slightly below the previous year’s figure of 848,100. In the first 11 months of 2021, the used-car market inched up by 1.5% to 769,052 transactions, compared to 757,767 in 2020. This means that the market has almost reached the same level as 2019, when there were 775,400 changes of ownership through to the month of November.

The volume of active offers on the used-car market is currently 32% below what it was at the beginning of February 2020, before COVID-19 hit the country. This trend is stagnating at a very low level. Prices for petrol and diesel vehicles have increased due to this shortage, whereas electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) have been affected by this to a lesser extent.

Used Car Registrations by Month: 2018 – 2021

Source: Eurotax/ASTRA-IVZ

Regarding the future development of the used-car market, the supply situation is crucial. If the number of new-car registrations continues to sit below pre-pandemic levels, the supply of used vehicles will remain scarce and prices will keep rising. Residual values are likely to climb further this year, and at the beginning of 2022, before stabilising over the course of next year – provided that the used-car supply actually increases due to a significant rise in new registrations.