Sales of New Cars in Europe fell 3.74% in December 2020

Jiří Staník
January 21, 2021

Sales of new cars decreased by 47.2 thousand in December compared to last year

This year, the decline reached 24.3% yoy

Ireland performed relatively the best (up 168% yoy) while sales in Croatia showed the weakest change compared to the last year (down 49.5% yoy)

Sales of new passenger cars reached 1,215 thousand in December 2020 in the enlarged Europe (EU plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), according to ACEA. This is 3.74%, or 47.2 thousand less than in the previous year. This year, some 11,960 thousand cars were sold in Europe, down 24.3% yoy.

In December 2020, demand for new passenger cars in the European Union declined by 3.3% yoy to 1.03 mil units. Among the largest markets, Italy and France both suffered double-digit losses, with car registrations down 14.9% and 11.8% respectively. By contrast, Germany posted a solid gain (+9.9%) and Spain’s performance remained stable.

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 December, most vehicles (311 thousand) were sold in Germany (up 9.89% yoy), followed by France (186 thousand, down 11.8%), the United Kingdom with 133 thousand cars (down 10.9%), 119 thousand new vehicles were registered in Italy (down 14.7%) and 106 thousand in Spain (down 0.011%). The five largest countries accounted for 61.7% of total new vehicles registered in December 2020.

In absolute terms, the best performance in sales of new cars has been seen in Germany (up 28.0 thousand cars) and Norway (up 9.32 thousand cars). At the other end of the scale, France and Italy showed the biggest drop in registration of new cars in December when compared to last year (down 24.9 thousand and down 20.6 thousand cars, respectively).

In relative terms, sales in Ireland (+168%) and Norway (+82.8%) performed the best compared to a year ago, whereas registration in Croatia and Slovenia the worst (-49.5% and -47.5% yoy), in December 2020, according to ACEA:

This year, some 11,960 thousand cars were sold in Europe, down 24.3% yoy. The table below shows details of the sales for each of the European country:

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

Country December 2020 December 2019 YOY Change % 1-12/2020 1-12/2019 YOY Change %
Austria 23.8 22.7 4.81 249 329 -24.5
Belgium 30.1 33.5 -10.1 431 550 -21.5
Bulgaria 1.71 2.86 -40.3 22.4 35.4 -36.7
Croatia 2.05 4.06 -49.5 36.0 63.0 -42.8
Cyprus 0.659 0.838 -21.4 10.1 12.2 -17.7
Czech Republic 20.3 18.7 8.69 203 250 -18.8
Denmark 22.7 15.5 46.8 198 226 -12.2
Estonia 1.47 1.89 -22.3 18.8 26.6 -29.5
Finland 8.13 8.21 -0.986 96.4 114 -15.6
France 186 211 -11.8 1,650 2,214 -25.5
Germany 311 283 9.89 2,918 3,607 -19.1
Greece 6.44 6.60 -2.35 80.9 114 -29.1
Hungary 12.7 16.1 -21.2 128 158 -18.9
Iceland 0.804 0.587 37.0 9.37 11.7 -20.1
Ireland 0.601 0.224 168 89.9 117 -23.3
Italy 119 140 -14.7 1,380 1,911 -27.8
Latvia 1.11 1.26 -11.9 13.9 18.2 -24.0
Lithuania 4.25 3.27 29.9 40.2 46.4 -13.4
Luxembourg 3.36 3.13 7.29 45.2 55.0 -17.9
Netherlands 42.8 42.4 0.926 358 450 -20.5
Norway 20.6 11.3 82.8 141 142 -0.685
Poland 51.5 52.5 -1.89 428 556 -22.9
Portugal 14.3 17.7 -19.6 145 224 -35.0
Romania 16.0 13.8 16.0 126 162 -21.8
Slovakia 7.08 7.71 -8.18 76.3 94.5 -19.2
Slovenia 2.35 4.48 -47.5 53.5 71.2 -24.9
Spain 106 106 -0.011 851 1,258 -32.4
Sweden 34.7 48.1 -28.0 292 356 -18.0
Switzerland 29.5 34.8 -15.4 237 311 -24.0
United Kingdom 133 149 -10.9 1,631 2,311 -29.4
EU + EFTA 1,215 1,262 -3.74 11,960 15,803 -24.3
Source: ACEA, Helgi Library

Sales by Manufacturers

Volkswagen Group sold the most cars in December 2020 in Europe, some 317 thousand vehicles representing 26.1% of the European market. Sales of PSA Group amounted to 159 thousand vehicles (or 13.1% of the market) while Renault Group and BMW Group held 10.4% and 7.30% of the European market in December. Overall, the five largest manufacturers sold 63.1% of all new cars in December:

Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group sold 317 thousand new passenger cars representing a 26.1% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in December 2020. This is 11.4% more vehicles and a 3.54 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. Looking back three years, VW's market share was 22.9%.

The Group sold 157 thousand of Volkswagen brand cars in December, followed by 61.5 thousand of Skodas and 54.4 thousand of Audis. Seat sold 35.0 thousand vehicles and Porsche some 8.44 thousand cars in December 2020:

PSA Group

PSA Group sold 159 thousand new passenger cars representing a 13.1% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in December 2020. This is 1.57% more vehicles and a 0.683 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, the market share three years ago stood at 15.0% and is down by 1.96 pp now.

The Group sold 72.1 thousand of Peugeots cars, followed by 42.3 thousand of Opels and 39.6 thousand of Citroens in December 2020:

BMW Group

BMW Group sold 88.1 thousand new passenger cars representing a 7.26% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in December 2020. This is 9.34% fewer vehicles and a 0.448 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. Compared to three years ago, BMW Group's market share is now 0.793 pp lower.

The group sold 71.3 thousand of BMW brand cars, followed by 16.8 thousand of Minis in December 2020:

Hyundai Group

Hyundai Group sold 74.4 thousand new passenger cars representing a 6.13% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in December 2020. This is 9.78% fewer vehicles and a 0.410 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. Compared to three years ago, Hyundai Group's market share is now 0.015 pp lower.

The group sold 44.2 thousand of Hyundai brand cars, followed by 30.2 thousand of Kias in December 2020:

Renault Group

Renault Group sold 126 thousand new passenger cars representing a 10.4% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in December 2020. This is 15.3% fewer vehicles and a 1.41 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, three years ago, Renault Group's market share was 12.5%.

The group sold 85.6 thousand of Renault brand cars in December, followed by 39.9 thousand of Dacias and 0.112 thousand of Ladas:

FCA Group

FCA Group sold 74.8 thousand new passenger cars representing a 6.15% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in December 2020. This is 9.52% more vehicles and a 0.745 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, three years ago FCA Group's market share stood at 5.42%.

The group sold 50.7 thousand of Fiat brand cars in December, followed by 13.9 thousand of Jeeps and 4.97 thousand of Alfa-Romeos:

Toyota Group

Toyota Group sold 67.8 thousand new passenger cars representing a 5.58% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in December 2020. This is 21.9% more vehicles and a 1.17 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. Toyota Group's market share three years ago, by comparison, stood at 4.40%.

The group sold 62.8 thousand of Toyota brand cars in December, with Lexus following at 5.04 thousand cars:

Jaguar Land Rover Group

Jaguar Land Rover Group sold 17.3 thousand new passenger cars representing a 1.42% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in December 2020. This is 20.4% more vehicles and a 0.286 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. Three years ago however, the market share of Jaguar Land Rover Group was 1.19%.

The group sold 6.72 thousand of Jaguars in December, followed by of s:

Daimler Group

Daimler Group sold 75.0 thousand new passenger cars representing a 6.17% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in December 2020. This is 17.3% fewer vehicles and a 1.01 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, three years ago, Daimler Group's market share was 6.30%.

The group sold 70.2 thousand of Mercedes in December, followed by 4.78 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 39 countries, China ranked the highest in sales of electric cars with 1,060 thousand followed by USA and Germany in 2019. When looking at the ratio of electric to total new cars sold, Norway ranked the highest with 55.9% followed by Iceland and Netherlands:

By contrast, Lithuania ranked the highest in the number of petrol-fuelled as a proportion of new cars sold with 79.9%, followed by Hungary and Poland. In terms of diesel-fuelled vehicles, Ireland ranked the highest with 46.6% followed by Bulgaria and Latvia:

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, generated the highest sales in 2019 followed by and . At the same time, Toyota Motor Corporation had the highest market value followed by Volkswagen Group and Tesla Inc.:

generated the highest earnings before interest costs, taxes and depreciation (so called EBITDA) in 2019 followed by and . At the same time, Ferrari generated the highest EBITDA Margin followed by Porsche AG and BMW Group.

Ferrari produced the highest net profit per car sold in 2019 followed by Porsche AG and Toyota Motor Corporation. Ferrari made a net profit of USD 77,831 for each car sold, down 21.7% 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).