EU Car Sales Fell Again in 2020

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Passenger car registrations in the European Union declined 2% to 9.7 million units in 2021, despite the record low base of comparison of 2020, due to impacts related to the global semiconductor shortage, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association reported today.

“This fall was the result of the semiconductor shortage that negatively impacted car production throughout the year, but especially during the second half of 2021,” ACEA said in a news release. “Indeed, last year total EU car registrations were still 3.3 million units below pre-crisis sales in 2019.” Pre-crisis refers to the time before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Among the four largest EU markets, for last year only Germany posted a decline, with a 10% drop. By contrast, Italy experience the highest increase at 6%, followed by small increases of 1% each for Spain and France.

The industry’s sales declined sharply in the second half of 2021. For December last year, demand for new passenger cars in the EU plummeted 23% to 795,295 units, which was the sixth consecutive month of decline. Sales had increased year-over-year each month from March through June, including huge increases of 87% in March and 218% in April, although these increases were skewed due to the steep drop in sales in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Last December, most of the EU’s markets experienced double-digit percentage drops, including the four major markets: by 28% in Italy, by 27% in Germany, by 19% in Spain and by 15% in France. The only EU car markets that expanded in December were the smaller markets of Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia and Slovenia.

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 2021, U.K. sales increased 1% to 1.6 million units. For December, registrations in the U.K. dropped 18% to 108,596.

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