Europe 2020 auto sales post record fall as virus hits

PARIS (AFP) – New car sales in Europe last year suffered a record fall of nearly 24 per cent due to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said yesterday.

“The European Union (EU) passenger car market contracted by 23.7 per cent to 9.9 million vehicles as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ACEA said in a statement.

“Containment measures – including full scale lockdowns and other restrictions throughout the year – had an unprecedented impact on car sales across the EU,” it said.

“2020 saw the biggest yearly drop in car demand since records began (in 1990)… all 27 EU markets recorded double-digit declines,” it added.

The ACEA said that among the biggest auto markets, Spain recorded the sharpest fall at 32.3 per cent for the year, with Italy down 27.9 per cent and France 25.5 per cent.

Germany, the bloc’s strongest economy, dropped 19.1 per cent.

For the month of December alone, EU car sales were down 3.3 per cent at just over one million vehicles.

New cars are stored in front of containers in Duisburg, Germany. PHOTO: AP