2020 (May) Europe: Car Sales and Market Analysis

In May 2020, new passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union, UK, and EFTA were down 57%. The Renault Clio outsold the VW Golf.

Renault Clio was the top-selling car model in Europe in May 2020.

New car sales in the EU, UK, and EFTA were 43% lower during the first five months of 2020, although the contraction of 57% in May 2020 was an improvement on the decline of 78% in April. SUVs took 40% of the European new car market. Electrified car sales were only down 8% for a new record market share of 15% in May 2020.

European Car Market Statistics 2020: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

European New Car Market Analysis in May 2020

According to JATO, the evolution of the European automotive industry has continued as the global pandemic has continued to loom large over the sector but the short-term market direction remains unclear.

In May 2020, new car registrations fell by 57% in May down to 622,067 units across 27 markets – taking the cumulative results for 2020 to 3.95 million units, down by 43% year on year. Although this seems like a significant decrease, May’s results mark a positive turning point, up from the decrease registered in April, when the volume fell by 78%.

As markets across Europe started to ease lockdown restrictions, registrations started to show small signs of recovery. Felipe Munoz, global analyst at JATO Dynamics, explained: “Registrations volumes more than doubled in May, compared to the figures achieved in April. Despite the positive signs of recovery, a proportion of these registrations could correspond to sales that occurred prior to lockdown; therefore, we still do not have enough information to predict whether Europe will experience a “V” or a “U” shaped recovery”.

Nonetheless, there were a number of positive factors for the automotive industry in May. Private registrations gained significant traction, demonstrating that the decrease seen in April was mostly driven by lockdown and fewer consumers acquiring new cars. Munoz commented: “It is not unusual to see larger drops in business and fleet registrations than private registrations.

Although both have been severely affected by the outbreak, private registrations are often more profitable for OEMs, and are thus a more realistic indicator of the economic temperature.”

See also: 2020 (May) Europe: Car Sales Per EU Country

Electrified Cars Sales Gained Market Share in Europe in May 2020

Car sold in Europe in May 2020 by Fuel Type

While gasoline and diesel new car registrations decreased by 62% and 59% respectively in May, electrified vehicles posted a moderate decline of just 8%. In fact, their volume fell from 103,400 units in May 2019 to 95,300 units last month. This small decline allowed electrified vehicles to increase their market share from 7.2% in May 2019 to 15.3% in May 2020, taking the year-to-date volume to 600,500 units. This is almost half the total recorded by diesel cars, at 1.17 million units.

Growth was driven by PHEV, as the models offer a viable alternative for those hoping to buy more affordable cars than pure electric vehicles. These cars also receive huge subsidies from the German government. Munoz stated: “The crisis has shown us that hybrid demand and growth fluctuates, while plug-in cars gain traction due to lower prices. Nevertheless, we suspect that mild-hybrids will soon boost hybrid sales.”

Best-Selling Electrified Car Models in Europe in May 2020

Best Selling electric and hybrid car models in Europe in May 2020 According to JATO
Best-Sellers May 2020 According to JATO

The Renault Zoe led the ranking among the electric vehicles, but the Volkswagen e-Golf was the true driver of growth in May. The Ford Puma also outsold the Toyota Yaris, and the Fiat 500 secured sixth position among hybrids – both mild hybrids. The PHEVs were led by the new Ford Kuga, clearly impacting the popularity of the Mitsubishi Outlander.

Supply of battery electric vehicles remains a major problem — in Germany, where the government announced huge incentives for BEVs, very few cars will actually be available during the remainder of 2020.

Renault Clio Top-Selling Car in Europe in May 2020

For the second time this year, the Renault Clio led the European ranking by models, outselling the popular Volkswagen Golf. Both models recorded double-digit declines, but its availability supported its success. Its model switch is a significant contributing factor as the latest generation is now fully available in many markets. In fact, the 5th generation contributed to 80% of its registrations in May.

In contrast, the Volkswagen Golf 8, which also faced model changeovers at the same time, did not benefit from their latest generation as the company had to interrupt deliveries due to a software error in mid-May. The lack of availability of the new Golf – which accounted for 17% of its registrations during the month – explains the bigger decrease. Year-to-date 2020, the VW Golf remains in the lead.

Europe May 2020 Car Registration by segment

The Clio was not the only French model to occupy an important position. Thanks to a new generation, the Peugeot 208 ranked third with almost 11,000 units.

Four SUVs also hit the top 10, meaning these vehicles continued to dominate European roads. Last month, 4 out of 10 new cars registered were SUVs, with their volume decreased by 53% to 250,000 units in May 2020. This segment was led by the Renault Captur, Volkswagen T-Roc, Dacia Duster, Volkswagen Tiguan, and Peugeot 2008.

Other SUVs that performed well in May, were the Ford Puma with 5,523 units, Skoda Kamiq with 4,036 units, Mazda CX-30 with 2,936 units, Mercedes GLE up by 116% to 2,919 units, and Audi Q3 Sportback with 2,825 units.

The worst performing segments were the MPVs, city-cars, luxury sedans, compact cars and executive sedans. In fact, the MPVs registrations fell so heavily that they were outsold by the Vans (LCV-derived), now more popular among European consumers.

European New Car Market in 2020

Sales and Market Analysis:

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in online writing. His best-selling cars website has been reporting car sales statistics since 2008 with classic car auction prices focusing on the most expensive automobiles sold at public auctions in the past decade. He also owns the travel websites European-Traveler.com and Lake Geneva Switzerland. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Finance from the University of London.