EU Car Sales Fell in 2020


EU Car Sales Fell in 2020
Volkswagen cars, dealership sign and logo in front of a vehicle store park in Bordeaux, France. © sylv1rob1 /

Passenger car registrations in the European Union dropped by 23.7% to 9.9 million units in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to contain it, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.

“Indeed, containment measures – including full-scale lockdowns and other restrictions throughout the year – had an unprecedented impact on car sales across the European Union,” the association said in a news release yesterday. Last year represented the biggest yearly drop in car demand for the EU since records began, with new car registrations in 2020 down more than 3 million units from 13 million for 2019.

Among the four largest EU markets for last year, all posted declines from 2019, with Spain the sharpest at 32.3%. It was followed by Italy at 27.9%, France at 25.5% and Germany’s 19.1% drop.

The industry did seem to rebound as the year progressed. For December last year, demand for new passenger cars in the EU declined by 3.3% to 1 million units. Year on year, such demand declined 12% in November and 7.8% in October, following a 3.1% uptick in September.

Among the largest EU markets, demand in December for new passenger cars picked up by 9.9% in Germany and was virtually unchanged in Spain, compared to the same month in 2019. In the other two largest EU markets, registrations declined by 14.9% in Italy and by 11.8% in France.

United Kingdom new car sales are no longer included in ACEA’s EU new passenger car registrations data, but the association still tracks them. For full year 2020, U.K. sales fell 29.4% to 1.6 million new passenger car registrations. For December, registrations in the U.K. were down 10.9% at 132,682.

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