Weak summer sales slow European car market down
According to the European car manufacturers association, ACEA car sales figures for July and August are almost one-fifth lower than last year. But thanks to a very positive first half of the year, the total European market still went up by 11,2%.
One also has to consider that comparisons are made with 2020, the year of the pandemic outbreak.
July and August
In July 2021, the European passenger car market suffered a significant setback after four months of accelerated growth, with new registrations down 23,2% to 823 949 units. The EU’s four major markets showed similar trends, all posting strong losses. France saw the steepest decrease (-35,3%) in July, followed by Spain (-28,9%), Germany (-24.9%) and Italy (-19,2%).
During August, car registrations across the European Union decreased by 19,1% compared to last year’s same month, reaching 622 993 units. For the second month in a row, the largest car markets posted double-digit declines: Spain (-28,9%), Italy (-27,3%), Germany (-23,0%) and France (-15,0%).
The sales of this summer month in Europe have been declining since 2018, the record year with sales of more than one million cars in August alone.
First eight months
Over the first eight months of 2021, sales volume saw a year-on-year increase of 11.2%, counting 6,8 million new passenger cars in total. Despite the weak performance of EU markets during the summer months, substantial gains earlier in the year kept cumulative growth in positive territory.
As a result, each of the four major markets posted growth so far this year: Italy (+30,9%), France (+12,8%), Spain (+12,1%), and Germany (+2,5%). When we go further in detail for the different countries, we see that most are in the positive, with outliers like Croatia (+36,7%) and Greece (+41,9%), but also two negative results: Belgium (-3,5%) and the Netherlands (-3,4%).
Looking at the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland), we see a healthy rise in general (+22,7% or 279 878 cars sold) and even more so in the two northern countries, Iceland (+36,9%) and Norway (+38,9%). The Swiss market grew by 12,9%.
August wasn’t a good month in the UK either (-22,0%), but for the first eight months of this year, we saw a sales growth of 20,3%.
Volkswagen still going strong
When one looks at the brands, we see that the Volkswagen Group is still number one in the EU (plus EFTA and UK), with a growth of 14,5% for the first eight months (2 158 679 cars sold) and a market share of 26,4% (up 0,5%).
In the second place, we find the Stellantis Group, which sold 1 684 112 cars (+ 14,8%), taking the market share from 20,2 to 20,6%. Third place for the Renault Group, selling 711 552 cars or 5,3% less than last year, 8,7% market share.
The gap with number four is narrowing: Hyundai Group sold 662 894 cars, a stunning 28,3% increase, resulting in a market share of 8,1%. The fifth place is for the BMW Group, which also increased its sales by 15,8% up to 592 854 cars (7,0% market share).
Other significant increases are those of Toyota Group (+26,5%, 6,5% market share), occupying sixth place in the ranking. Volvo (+18,4%) and Jaguar Land Rover (+20,2%) did also perform well, just like Mazda (+25,2%).
The most significant losers were all Japanese: Mitsubishi sold 31,7% less, Honda 8,9%, and Nissan limited the damage to 5,2%. Ford of Europe also sold 4,5% fewer cars in the first eight months.