The Global Bus and Coach Market 2019 Summary (GVW >6t)
The Global bus market (GVW >6t) contracted by 2.8% in Q4’19 YoY, resulting in annual sales falling for the third consecutive year, down 1%. The decline in Q4’19 largely stemmed from double-digit declines in China (-12.5%) - due to hangover and base effects from the continued NEV subsidy adjustment. For growth we look to India, which witnessed sales surge 27.6% in Q4’19 as demand ramped up ahead of the BS-VI emissions upgrade in April 2020.
Pan-Europe: Bus sales on the continent witnessed declines of 5.5% in the final quarter of 2019, but recorded FY growth of 0.6%. Across the Big 5, results were mixed – Both Italy and UK registered double-digit declines of 14%, whilst sales in Spain and Germany were flat, at 0% and 1% respectively. The biggest gainer was France, where sales were up 10% YoY. The market in France has been spurred on by increasing demand for electric buses, liberalisation of some key routes - particularly in the Île-de-France (Paris) region and the suspension of the fuel duty rise boosted business confidence.
Asia-Pacific: Regionally, bus sales fell by 3.4% in the last quarter of 2019, resulting in annual sales depressing by the same token (-3%). In China, FY sales fell by 6%, which marked the third consecutive year of decline. The market has faced a number of headwinds: a fall in highway passenger traffic, gradual reduction in NEV subsidies, the increased investment into high-speed railway, as well as the rise in private car ownership, to name a few.
In India, bus sales grew by 1% last year. Even though the market expanded for the second consecutive year, it is worth bearing in mind sales were still only around 90% of 2016 levels. Whilst continued investment into improving public transport and BS-VI pre-buying activity boosted demand, the market experienced turbulent conditions, brought on by a cooling economy, weak sentiment, tighter financial conditions and rising operational costs.
In South America, Brazil recorded eye-catching growth of 39% YoY, registering a third consecutive year of growth. Considering base effects sales remained some way off levels seen before Brazil fell into a two year recession in 2015. Nonetheless, since then pent-up demand, average fleet age requirements, favourable financing initiatives and the school bus renewal program have continued to boost domestic demand.
Looking forward, the outlook has changed considerably since January, with the rapid spread of COVID-19 and related containment measures globally the virus has crippled the industry, with ridership levels at an all-time low. Consequently the bus forecast has been slashed and sales are anticipated to fall to their lowest level since 2008. Due to the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus the risks remain skewed to the downside.
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