To comply with European legislation on CO2 emissions, manufacturers did not hesitate to sell off their vehicles in December. At the same time, the country has never produced so few cars since 1996, explains Philippe Escande, economic columnist in the “World”.

Go down to the garage sale or settle on the Internet with cupboards, tables and sofas. Everything must disappear. It is in this spirit that the German car manufacturers engaged in an impressive clearance sale in December 2019, as if it were a question of liquidating everything before the new year. The BMWs, Mercedes, Audi or VW left like hotcakes on the eve of the Christmas holidays. Over 283,000 cars were registered in Germany in December, 20% more than in the same period in 2018. As a result, the domestic market grew by 5% in 2019. A miracle!

But alas, as often, this gift from the sky hides some tricks of conjurer. Or rather desperate commercial. To empty their house, the manufacturers of the most famous sedans in the world, who balk at the slightest promotion, did not hesitate to sell off, or even have their own cars bought by their dealers in order to resell them on a new opportunity a few months later. later.

Expensive practice, but essential to get out of their stocks and their statistics the most polluting cars, these big 4 × 4 that customers love but whose CO 2 balance causes the anger of the ecologists and, above all, of the Commission of Brussels. Because 2020 will be the first year of new European legislation which imposes heavy fines on manufacturers whose new registrations will exceed on average 95 g of CO 2 per kilometer. It was therefore necessary to get rid of it as soon as possible.

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Evil conjunction

The reality of the German automobile is less rosy than a Christmas tale. It’s been twenty-three years since this industry had produced as few cars in its factories: with 4.66 million vehicles produced in 2019, it returns to its 1996 level. Already Daimler and Audi have announced nearly 20,000 reductions jobs, and experts estimate that 50,000 other jobs would be at risk by 2020.

In question, the evil combination of the collapse of diesel, the fall of the Chinese market, Brexit and American politics. A perfect storm that shakes the foundation of the German miracle, which directly employs 830,000 people and generates a turnover of more than 400 billion euros, two thirds of which come from abroad.

The year that opens will be one of trouble for employees, especially since it is urgent to free up tens of billions of euros to invest in the electric vehicle. The energy transition is not already a path of roses, but when it mixes with the fall of international trade, it turns into a bush of thorns.