April 2020: Car sales in China largely recovered while other major international markets including Europe, USA, Japan and Brazil remained weak.
The Chinese new car market largely recovered in April 2020 but all other major car markets worldwide suffered major contractions. Car sales in Japan were down by a third, in the USA by half, and in Brazil by three quarters. New passenger vehicle registrations in Europe were 78% lower in April 2020 than a year ago with sales in Italy, Spain, and Britain down by more than 97%.
Worldwide Car Sales in 2020 (January to April)
New car sales in various major car markets monitored by the VDA were as follows in April 2020 and year-to-date 2020:
|Region||April 2020||% Change||1-4/2020||% Change|
|*Light vehicles |
China – Car Market Recovered in April 2020
The Chinese new car market largely recovered in April 2020 with sales of 1,500,000 cars only 2.3% weaker than a year ago. This performance is in sharp contrast to the 82% contraction of the Chinese new car market in February 2020 and 48% in March 2020.
The recovery in car sales in China may give some indication of how fast sales could recover after the lifting of coronavirus induced restrictions. However, it is worth bearing in mind that other markets were harder hit. Furthermore, sales in April 2020 similar to April 2019 do not make up for all the sales lost in February and March 2020.
Year-to-date 2020, new car sales in China were down by 35.1% leaving the Chinese new car market over two million cars weaker than during the first four months of 2019. However, China was again the largest car market in the world both in April 2020 and year-to-date 2020.
Japan – Weaker Car Sales in April 2020
New passenger vehicle registrations in Japan contracted by 30.2% in April 2020. Year-to-date 2020, car sales in Japan were down 14.1% making the Japanese market the best-performing major car market in the world.
USA – Weaker Car Sales in April 2020
The US new car market was the strongest in the world during the first quarter of 2020 but the coronavirus finally caught up with the US market in April 2020 leading to a 47% contraction in sales. As before, traditional passenger car sales declined more compared to SUV sales – minus 59% vs minus 42%.
New light truck sales in the USA thus far this year contracted by 21.1% or just over a million vehicles less than a year ago.
Brazil – Very Weak Car Sales in April 2020
Despite the Brazilian president continuing to underplay the significance of the coronavirus, light truck sales in Brazil contracted by 77% to only 51,500 cars — the lowest April sales in twenty years.
During the first four months of 2020, car sales in Brazil were down 27.1%.
Europe – Car Market Collapsing in April 2020
In April 2020, new passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union, UK, and EFTA countries contracted by 78.3%. Germany remained by far the largest country market in the EU with sales down by 61% while France was still the second-largest market despite sales contracting by 89%. For Europe’s other top-five car markets, sales were down by at least 97%. Sweden was the surprise third-largest car market in Europe in April 2020.
Year-to-date 2020, the European new car market contracted by 39% — over two million fewer cars than were sold during the first four months of 2019.