Sales of New Cars in Europe fell 56.8% in May 2020

Jiří Staník
June 17, 2020

Sales of new cars decreased by 820 thousand in May compared to last year

In the first five months of the year, the decline reached 42.7% yoy

The smallest decline was seen in Slovenia (-29.3%) while sales in the United Kingdom dropped the most (-89.0%)

Sales of new passenger cars reached 624 thousand in May 2020 in the enlarged Europe (EU plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), according to ACEA. This is 56.8%, or 820 thousand less than in the previous year. In the first five months of 2020, some 3,971 thousand cars were sold in Europe, down 42.7% yoy.

In May 2020, the European passenger car market suffered another sharp drop. Although COVID-19 lockdown measures were eased in many countries last month, the number of new cars sold across the European Union (excluding UK) fell from 1,217,259 units in May 2019 to 581,161 passenger cars in May of this year.

Historically, between 1990 and 2020, sales of passenger cars in Europe reached a high of 1,937 thousand in March 2017 and a low of 292 thousand in April 2020.

Sales by Country

In May, most vehicles (168 thousand) were sold in Germany (down 49.5% yoy), followed by Italy (99.7 thousand, down 49.5%), France with 96.3 thousand cars (down 50.3%), 34.8 thousand new vehicles were registered in Belgium (down 32.0%) and 34.3 thousand in Spain (down 72.7%). The five largest countries accounted for 63.9% of total new vehicles registered in May 2020.

In absolute terms, the smallest decrease in sales of new cars has was seen in Cyprus (-0.329 thousand cars) and Latvia (-1.02 thousand cars). At the other end of the scale, Germany and the United Kingdom showed the biggest drop in registration of new cars in May when compared to last year (down 165 thousand and 163 thousand cars, respectively).

In relative terms, sales in Slovenia (-29.3%) and Cyprus (-29.4%) declined the least compared to a year ago, whereas registration in the United Kingdom and Croatia dropped the most (-89.0% and -76.2% yoy), in May 2020, according to ACEA:

In the first five months of the year, some 3,971 thousand cars were sold in Europe, down 42.7% yoy. The table below shows details of the sales for each of the European countries:

Sales of new passenger cars in Europe (thousands of vehicles)

Country May 2020 May 2019 YOY Change % 1-5/2020 1-5/2019 YOY Change %
Austria 20.2 30.6 -33.9 86.1 143 -39.9
Belgium 34.8 51.1 -32.0 167 260 -35.7
Bulgaria 1.13 3.64 -69.0 7.90 15.1 -47.6
Croatia 2.18 9.16 -76.2 13.3 30.0 -55.8
Cyprus 0.791 1.12 -29.4 3.97 5.40 -26.5
Czech Republic 13.4 24.1 -44.4 74.3 107 -30.3
Denmark 11.4 19.2 -40.4 70.5 102 -30.7
Estonia 1.06 2.80 -62.2 7.53 11.5 -34.6
Finland 5.11 10.9 -53.1 39.4 49.7 -20.9
France 96.3 194 -50.3 482 935 -48.5
Germany 168 333 -49.5 990 1,524 -35.0
Greece 4.50 13.8 -67.5 28.3 52.4 -46.0
Hungary 6.47 14.2 -54.4 45.3 61.0 -25.7
Iceland 0.516 2.01 -74.4 3.37 5.94 -43.2
Ireland 1.75 6.32 -72.4 53.3 79.4 -32.8
Italy 99.7 197 -49.5 451 908 -50.4
Latvia 0.744 1.77 -57.9 5.30 7.87 -32.7
Lithuania 2.04 4.25 -51.9 14.1 18.9 -25.3
Luxembourg 3.04 5.42 -43.8 16.1 25.9 -37.7
Netherlands 14.9 36.8 -59.5 134 187 -28.3
Norway 8.00 13.1 -39.0 47.8 62.9 -24.0
Poland 21.1 47.1 -55.1 144 233 -38.3
Portugal 5.74 22.7 -74.7 53.8 103 -47.9
Romania 7.16 13.0 -45.0 39.5 57.5 -31.4
Slovakia 4.12 9.89 -58.3 26.5 35.6 -25.5
Slovenia 5.09 7.20 -29.3 21.2 33.1 -35.7
Spain 34.3 126 -72.7 257 562 -54.2
Sweden 15.9 31.9 -50.2 101 136 -25.8
Switzerland 13.9 28.1 -50.5 78.7 129 -38.9
United Kingdom 20.2 184 -89.0 508 1,046 -51.4
EU + EFTA 624 1,444 -56.8 3,971 6,935 -42.7
Source: ACEA, Helgi Library

Sales by Manufacturers

Volkswagen Group sold the most cars in May 2020 in Europe, some 156 thousand vehicles representing 25.0% of the European market. Sales of PSA Group amounted to 95.4 thousand vehicles (or 15.3% of the market) while Renault Group and FCA Group held 11.4% and 7.10% of the European market in May. Overall, the five largest manufacturers sold 65.6% of all new cars in May:

Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group sold 156 thousand new passenger cars representing a 25.0% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in May 2020. This is 55.5% fewer vehicles and a 0.723 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. Looking back three years, VW's market share was 23.9%.

The Group sold 68.9 thousand of Volkswagen brand cars in May, followed by 33.1 thousand of Audis and 32.3 thousand of Skodas. Seat sold 17.1 thousand vehicles and Porsche some 4.20 thousand cars in May 2020:

PSA Group

PSA Group sold 95.4 thousand new passenger cars representing a 15.3% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in May 2020. This is 59.7% fewer vehicles and a 1.12 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, the market share three years ago stood at 16.1% and is down by 0.774 pp now.

The Group sold 40.7 thousand of Peugeots cars, followed by 27.3 thousand of Citroens and 24.9 thousand of Opels in May 2020:

BMW Group

BMW Group sold 39.6 thousand new passenger cars representing a 6.35% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in May 2020. This is 56.9% fewer vehicles but a 0.019 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. Compared to three years ago, BMW Group's market share is now 0.039 pp higher.

The group sold 31.9 thousand of BMW brand cars, followed by 7.73 thousand of Minis in May 2020:

Hyundai Group

Hyundai Group sold 42.5 thousand new passenger cars representing a 6.81% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in May 2020. This is 53.6% fewer vehicles and a 0.463 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. Compared to three years ago, Hyundai Group's market share is now 0.582 pp higher.

The group sold 21.4 thousand of Hyundai brand cars, followed by 21.1 thousand of Kias in May 2020:

Renault Group

Renault Group sold 71.4 thousand new passenger cars representing a 11.4% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in May 2020. This is 53.5% fewer vehicles and a 0.807 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, three years ago, Renault Group's market share was 10.6%.

The group sold 45.8 thousand of Renault brand cars in May, followed by 25.3 thousand of Dacias and 0.128 of Ladas:

FCA Group

FCA Group sold 44.1 thousand new passenger cars representing a 7.07% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in May 2020. This is 56.7% fewer vehicles and a 0.012 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, three years ago FCA Group's market share stood at 7.71%.

The group sold 32.1 thousand of Fiat brand cars in May, followed by 7.36 thousand of Jeeps and 2.09 thousand of Alfa-Romeos:

Toyota Group

Toyota Group sold 33.7 thousand new passenger cars representing a 5.40% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in May 2020. This is 54.3% fewer vehicles and a 0.292 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. Toyota Group's market share three years ago, by comparison, stood at 4.45%.

The group sold 31.7 thousand of Toyota brand cars in May, with Lexus following at 1.97 thousand cars:

Jaguar Land Rover Group

Jaguar Land Rover Group sold 5.46 thousand new passenger cars representing a 0.874% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in May 2020. This is 70.4% fewer vehicles and a 0.401 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. Three years ago however, the market share of Jaguar Land Rover Group was 1.35%.

The group sold 3.89 of Land Rovers in May, followed by 1.57 thousand of Jaguars:

Daimler Group

Daimler Group sold 39.0 thousand new passenger cars representing a 6.26% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in May 2020. This is 56.9% fewer vehicles and a 0.010 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, three years ago, Daimler Group's market share was 6.54%.

The group sold 38.1 thousand of Mercedes in May, followed by 0.928 thousand of Smart cars:

Overview of the Automotive Market

Based on a comparison of 138 countries, China ranked the highest with 21,444 thousand passenger cars sold in 2019 followed by the USA and Japan. Total sales of passenger cars reached 64,342 thousand in 2019 in the world, according to ACEA. This is 6.33% less than in the previous year and 29.6% more than 10 years ago. Historically, total sales of passenger cars reached an all time high of 70,695 thousand in 2017 and an all time low of 11,000 thousand in 1961. The average annual growth stands at 2.75% since 1960.

The top ranked country, China, accounted for 33.3% of all passenger cars sold in the world. The top 3 countries held a 47.3% share while the ten largest countries some 73.5% in 2019.

China was the largest car producer in 2019 with 21,360 thousand followed by Japan and Germany. Total production of passenger cars reached 67,149 thousand in 2019 in the world, according to ACEA. China accounted for 31.8% of the world's production, while the top 3 countries held a 51.2% share and the ten largest countries some 77.4% in 2019:

Based on a comparison of 27 countries, China ranked the highest in sales of electric cars with 528 thousand followed by Norway and Germany in 2017. When looking at the ratio of electric to total new cars sold, Norway ranked the highest with 39.3% followed by Switzerland and Netherlands:

By contrast, Netherlands ranked the highest in the number of petrol-fuelled as a proportion of new cars sold with 79.6%, followed by Estonia and Malta. In terms of diesel-fuelled vehicles, Croatia ranked the highest with 77.2% followed by Lithuania and Ireland:

In 2016, Switzerland ranked the highest in 4x4 drive cars as a share of new cars sold with 42.1% followed by Norway and Sweden. Switzerland ranked the highest in the average power of new cars sold with 122 kW followed by Luxembourg and Sweden:

Based on the latest available data, Lithuania, Estonia and Romania were the countries with the oldest average age of passenger cars. The average age was an ancient 16.9 years in Lithuania, 16.7 years years for Estonia and 16.3 years years in Romania. On the other end of the scale was Austria with 8.20 years years, the United Kingdom with 8.20 years years and Luxembourg with 6.40 years years.

Overview of Car Manufacturers

Based on a comparison of 27 firms among Global Car Producers, Toyota Motor Corporation generated the highest sales in 2017 followed by Volkswagen Group and Daimler Group. At the same time, Toyota Motor Corporation had the highest market value followed by Tata Motors and Volkswagen Group:

Volkswagen Group generated the highest earnings before interest costs, taxes and depreciation (so called EBITDA) in 2017 followed by Toyota Motor Corporation and Daimler Group. At the same time, Toyota Motor Corporation generated the highest EBITDA Margin followed by Tata Motors and Volkswagen Group.

Ferrari produced the highest net profit per car sold in 2017 followed by Porsche AG and Tata Motors. Ferrari made a net profit of EUR 1,683,561 for each car sold, up 25.1% compared to the previous year.

Jiří Staník
Jiří Staník
CEO & Founder
He spent nearly two decades analysing companies in the region of Central and Eastern Europe, primarily in the area of financial services. Jiri built and headed Equity Research at Wood & Company, a Central European brokerage firm, and got several awards (such as The Best Equity Research or The Best Analyst by Euromoney).