With a 61% share of consolidated sales, the automotive industry – with the exception of the replacement business – was Continental’s most important customer group in fiscal 2021. Automotive Technologies accounted for the lion’s share, but the Tires and ContiTech business areas also generated significant sales figures in this market segment.
The second-biggest market segment for Continental was the global replacement-tire business for passenger cars and commercial vehicles, with 28% of total sales in fiscal 2021. Because passenger cars and light commercial vehicles make up a considerably higher share of the replacement-tire business, their development is particularly important to our economic success.
The third-biggest market segment for Continental was the global business with industrial customers and spare parts from the ContiTech business area, with around 9% of total sales.
Continental’s biggest sales region in the reporting year was still Europe, which accounted for 49% of sales, followed by North America at 25% and Asia-Pacific at 22%.
Development of new passenger-car registrations
2021 saw high demand for passenger cars in the world’s automotive markets, including as a result of catch-up effects from the previous year, during which passenger car production was temporarily suspended due to the spread of the coronavirus. However, various events in the year under review led to an increasing shortage of semiconductors and ongoing production limitations among car manufacturers, particularly in the second and third quarters, resulting in limited availability of many car models in individual regions. In the European car market (EU27, EFTA and the United Kingdom), there were around 2% fewer new-car registrations in 2021 than in the previous year according to preliminary data from the German Association of the Automotive Industry (Verband der Automobilindustrie, VDA). According to the VDA, passenger car sales fell in Japan by around 4%.
In other countries, however, registration figures improved in 2021. According to the VDA, passenger car sales rose in the major car markets of China and the USA by just under 7% and by 3%, respectively. Russia and Brazil recorded growth of 4% and 1%, respectively. After the sharp decline in the previous year, India recorded very strong growth of 27%. According to preliminary data from car manufacturer Renault, new-car registrations rose by 5% globally in 2021.
Development of production of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles
In the year under review, semiconductor supply shortages limited the recovery of global production of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles weighing less than 6 metric tons after the previous year’s pandemic-related decline. According to preliminary figures, global production for 2021 rose by around 3% to 77.1 million units.
European automotive plants were hit particularly hard by the semiconductor shortages in the year under review. As a result, the production volumes for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in Europe decreased by 4% year-on-year. North American manufacturers were also forced to temporarily shut down several plants in 2021 as a result of the semiconductor shortages, with production stagnating at the low level seen in the previous year as a result. In China, on the other hand, preliminary data indicates that manufacturers were able to increase production by 5% year-on-year.
Development of production of medium and heavy commercial vehicles
Following the pandemic-related decline in the previous year, the production of medium and heavy commercial vehicles weighing more than 6 metric tons stabilized worldwide in 2021 according to preliminary figures, and was almost on a par with the previous year with a decline of 1%.
In Europe and North America, the semiconductor shortages limited the recovery of truck production. According to preliminary figures, however, production in Europe and North America rose by 13% and 21%, respectively, compared with the very weak prior-year figures.
China recorded high demand for commercial vehicles in the first half of 2021 due to new emission standards coming into effect around the middle of the year. In the second half of the year, demand and production then fell considerably short of the very high prior-year figures. Overall, production of medium and heavy commercial vehicles in China in 2021 was down 20% compared to the record high seen in the previous year.
Development of replacement-tire markets for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles
Following the market decline in the previous year in the wake of the measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for tires recovered in 2021. According to preliminary data, global sales volumes of replacement tires for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles weighing less than 6 metric tons rose by 11% in the reporting year.
On the basis of preliminary data, sales volumes of replacement tires for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles rose by 11% in Europe and by 14% in North America in 2021. In China, preliminary data indicates a rise in sales volumes of replacement tires of 5%.
Development of replacement-tire markets for medium and heavy commercial vehicles
In our core markets of Europe and North America, preliminary data indicates that year-on-year demand for replacement tires for medium and heavy commercial vehicles weighing more than 6 metric tons rose by 10% and 20%, respectively, in 2021.
|Changes to vehicle production and sales volumes in the tire-replacement business in 2021 (compared to 2020)|
|Vehicle production||Replacement sales of tires|
|of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles||of medium and heavy commercial vehicles||for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles||for medium and heavy commercial vehicles|