ACEA: ‘2020 saw biggest drop in car demand ever’
With a drop of -23,7%, passenger car registrations in the EU27 saw the biggest drop in car demand ever. 3 086 439 fewer new cars were sold, with a total of 9,9 million. December (-3,3%) couldn’t buck the trend to a positive one, except for a handful of countries. There the breakthrough of the electric car was a mere eyewash.
It’s clear, says EU car manufacturers federation ACEA, which published the latest figures, that the pandemic with the containment measures, lockdowns, and other restrictions throughout the year had an unprecedented impact. Such a dramatic drop isn’t seen since recording started in the sector.
Spain and France suffer most
In the biggest car markets, Spain saw the sharpest drop with -32,3%, followed by France with -25,5%. The United Kingdom, no longer part of the EU, would have nested between them with a -29,4% drop. Only Croatia (-42,8%), Bulgaria (-36,8%) and Portugal (-35,0%) did worse.
But not every country suffered to the same extend. For instance, Germany limited the loss to -19,9% overall, thanks to a ‘revival’ during the last months, with December showing even a +9,9% growth compared to the same month the year before. That might be attributed mostly to the ‘electric boost’ car sales got after summer with the government raising premiums for EVs.
Alternative drive systems
Alternative drive systems (battery-electric, fuel-cell, plug-in hybrids, and gas) took up a quarter of all new registrations in Germany in 2020. A total of 394 940 electric-powered cars were sold, with all-electric cars (194 163) seeing an increase of 206%.
The Netherlands saw a similar effect limiting the damage to -19,5%, selling 358 330 cars in 2020. December showed a positive trend of +2,9%. Kia was doing very well in the Netherlands, better than the year before. The Kia Niro was the bestseller of the entire market, and its electric version was completely sold out.
In 2020, only Volkswagen was selling more cars in total over there. The electric VW ID.3 was the bestseller in October and November, but it couldn’t catch up anymore for the whole year.
Norway barely affected
Beyond the EU27 but following the union’s rules, Norway demonstrated again that government incentives could boost (EV) sales even in the darkest times, seeing only a -0,7% decline in passenger car registrations. Something the others can only dream of. But with 141 412 cars sold over the whole year, it isn’t the biggest car market.
Belgium under average
Belgium (-21,5%) managed to stay under the EU’s average loss, but the stricter corona measures didn’t’ stimulate’ sales in the last weeks of the year. December was -10,1% down. In absolute figures, that translates into 431 491 cars sold, compared to 550 003 in 2019.
Luxembourg wasn’t hit that hard after all, with some 10 000 cars less sold than in 2019, dropping -17,9% to 45 189 new registrations.
Toyota, Volvo, and BMW ‘best’ in class
If you look at the car manufactures’ figures, it’s all double digits negatives with Toyota (-12,8%), Volvo (-15,9%), and BMW (-16,0%) the least affected. On the other end of the spectrum, Mazda bled the most with -42,5%, followed by Jaguar Land Rover (-33,6%), Honda (-30,8%), and Ford (-30,6%).
The French weren’t spared either, with PSA Group seeing sales drop by -29,3%, dragged down mostly by its German sibling Opel (-40,3%). Renault managed to keep to a -25,6% loss, with the budget brands Dacia (-29,7%) and Lada (-58,3%) hit most. For the latter, we’re talking about only 2 074 cars sold in the EU27, compared to 4 979 the year before.
Volkswagen remains the biggest
South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai Group was among the better ones with ‘only’ an -18,4% loss, with Kia limiting the damage most (-14,8%) of the two brands.
Volkswagen remains the most dominant player in the EU, with 2 547 519 cars sold, -21,5% less than the year before. Even Porsche had to give in: -10,3%. Daimler, which outnumbered BMW in car sales in 2019 (807 938 versus 772 214), saw a -25,5% drop.
It lost its pole position with the German premium brands again with 626 836 cars sold compared to 648 748 for its Bavarian all-time competitor. Audi remained in the third position with 467 225 cars sold, a -19,1% decline.