In 2020, new passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union, UK, and EFTA were down 25% with car sales weak in all countries. Germany and France were the largest single country markets in Europe.
In full calendar year 2020, new passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union, UK, and EFTA countries contracted by 24.3% — the strongest annual decline on record. Germany remained by far the largest new car market in Europe and performed the best of the large countries. France passed Britain as the second largest country market in Europe in 2020. Car sales in Spain fell to below a million cars in 2020. Volkswagen remained the best-selling car brand in Europe in 2020.
European New Car Market in 2020 (Full Year)
In 2020, new passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union (EU) decreased by 23.7% to 9,942,509 cars — 3 million cars fewer than in 2019 (UK excluded). In EFTA, new car sales were down 16.7% to 387,609 cars. In the UK, new car sales dropped by 29.4% to 1,631,064 cars.
In the EU, UK, and EFTA countries combined, new passenger vehicle registrations decreased by 24.3%% to 11,961,182 cars. In 2019, the market of 15,805,752 cars was at its largest since 2007, and 3.5 million cars bigger than the low reached in 2013.
The drop in car sales in Europe in 2020 was the strongest in history. The 24.3% contraction in 2020 was similar to the contraction following the global financial crisis in 2007 but spread over five years. The last time the European new car market was smaller than 12 million units were in 1993 when only 11.82 million cars were sold in Europe.
Most of the loss in car sales in Europe in 2020 was during the second quarter and the first series of Coronavirus lockdown measures. During later months in the year, the contraction was less severe as businesses, governments, and consumers adapted to the restrictions.
The outlook for the European new car market in 2020 is positive, as there is clearly demand in the market. However, sales are unlikely to recover to anything near the 15 million vehicle market of recent years.
New Car Sales in Europe by Year (2007-2020)
In recent years, annual new passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union, UK, and EFTA countries were as follows according to sales data released by the ACEA:
Note: All figures in this article exclude Malta.
New Car Sales by European Union, UK, and EFTA Country in 2020 (Full Year)
New passenger vehicle registrations per country in the European Union, UK, and EFTA were as follows in 2020:
|EUROPEAN UNION (EU)||9,942,509||13,028,948||-23.7|
|TOTAL (EU + EFTA + UK)||11,961,182||15,805,752||-24.3|
Car Sales by Country in Europe in 2020 (Full Year)
In 2020, Germany remained the largest single-country market in Europe with sales down by only a fifth. The German new car market contracted to its lowest level since 2010 and avoided some of the policy failures of the past. In response to the global financial crisis, the German government offered incentives to replace old cars, which led to record sales in 2009 but a slump the following year. In 2020, the German government shocked the automobile industry by refusing incentives for regular cars but only increased already generous incentives for electric cars, which led to high electric car sales (and electric car shortages in the market).
France became the second largest new car market in the European Union in 2020 not only by default but also by outselling the British market for the first time in years. New car sales in France were down by a quarter while the British new car market contracted by 29.4%. The UK market was not only hit by uncertainty over Brexit but also by severe effects and an unorganized response to the Coronavirus. After years as the second-largest European new car market behind Germany, Britain slipped to third.
Car sales in Italy were down by 28% while the Spanish new car market contracted by nearly a third — the worst performance of the top-ten market. Belgium passed Poland again but the rest of the ten largest markets remained unaltered.
The best performing new car market in Europe in 2020 was Norway that had sales down by only 0.7%. Denmark was the best-performing EU country. Croatia, Bulgaria, and Portugal contracted the most.
European Car Sales Statistics for 2020 (Full Year)
- 2020 — Car Sales per EU, UK and EFTA Country (including market overview)
- 2020 — Europe: Best-Selling Car Manufacturers and Brands
- 2020 — Europe: Car Market by Fuel Type
- 2020 — Europe: Car Sales per Country for Electric and Plug-In Hybrid Cars
- 2019 Full Year: by Country, by Brands, by Model
European New Car Market in 2020
Sales and Market Analysis: