European car sales suffer worst plunge ever in pandemic

Marco Green
January 19, 2021

European vehicle sales plunged by almost a quarter a year ago as the pandemic provoked the worst crisis ever to hit the capital-intensive industry.

In December, new auto registrations dropped by 3.7% year-on-year to 1.215 million vehicles in the European Union, Britain and the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) showed.

In a statement, the organisation said: 'Containment measures - including full‐scale lockdowns and other restrictions throughout the year - had an unprecedented impact on auto sales across the European Union'.

"2020 saw the biggest yearly drop in auto demand since records began (in 1990) ... all 27 European Union markets recorded double-digit declines", it added.

All major European vehicle markets recorded double-digit declines, with Spain down 32.3%, Italy down 28%, France 25% lower and Germany, the bloc's strongest economy, reporting a 19% drop in sales.

Spain posted the biggest drops among Europe's largest markets with sales falling 32.3% and while Germany reported a narrower fall of 19.1%.

December sales were just 3.3% lower than the previous year, but performance varied drastically between markets.

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