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Sales of New Cars in Europe grew 62.7% in March 2021

Jiří Staník
April 19, 2021

Sales of new cars increased by 535 thousand in March compared to last year

In the first three months of the year, the growth reached 0.849% yoy

Italy performed relatively the best (up 499% yoy) while sales in Netherlands showed the weakest change compared to the last year (down 18.0% yoy)

Sales of new passenger cars reached 1,388 thousand in March 2021 in the enlarged Europe (EU plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), according to ACEA. This is 62.7%, or 535 thousand more than in the previous year. In the first three months of 2021, some 3,081 thousand cars were sold in Europe, up 0.849% yoy.

The strong performance in March 2021 is a result of last year’s exceptionally low base of comparison caused by the strict COVID-19 restrictions introduced in most markets in March 2020. During the first quarter of 2021, EU demand for new cars grew by 3.2% to reach 2.6 mil units. Despite steep declines during the first two months of the year (-24.0% in January and -19.3% in February), March’s strong results managed to offset the negative trend.

Historically, between 1990 and 2021, 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 March, most vehicles (292 thousand) were sold in Germany (up 35.9% yoy), followed by the United Kingdom (284 thousand, up 11.5%), France with 183 thousand cars (up 192%), 170 thousand new vehicles were registered in Italy (up 499%) and 85.8 thousand in Spain (up 128%). The five largest countries accounted for 66.9% of total new vehicles registered in March 2021.

In absolute terms, the best performance in sales of new cars has been seen in Italy (up 141 thousand cars) and France (up 120 thousand cars). At the other end of the scale, Netherlands and Iceland showed the biggest drop in registration of new cars in March when compared to last year (down 5.31 thousand and down 0.121 thousand cars, respectively).

In relative terms, sales in Italy (+499%) and France (+192%) performed the best compared to a year ago, whereas registration in Netherlands and Iceland the worst (-18.0% and -11.2% yoy), in March 2021, according to ACEA:

In the first three months of the year, some 3,081 thousand cars were sold in Europe, up 0.849% 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 March 2021 March 2020 YOY Change % 1-3/2021 1-3/2020 YOY Change %
Austria 29.5 10.7 177 63.5 54.7 16.2
Belgium 45.0 28.8 56.1 119 127 -6.42
Bulgaria 2.16 1.61 33.9 5.58 5.94 -6.06
Croatia 4.15 2.72 52.8 10.5 10.0 4.67
Cyprus 0.964 0.742 29.9 2.70 2.94 -8.23
Czech Republic 20.1 13.7 46.5 49.5 50.2 -1.31
Denmark 23.7 15.2 56.3 43.9 48.9 -10.1
Estonia 2.12 1.69 25.6 5.73 5.65 1.43
Finland 10.4 9.19 13.4 28.0 28.3 -1.03
France 183 62.7 192 442 365 21.1
Germany 292 215 35.9 656 701 -6.40
Greece 8.98 3.74 140 23.4 21.4 9.58
Hungary 12.4 11.5 8.33 32.2 32.7 -1.46
Iceland 0.957 1.08 -11.2 2.18 2.48 -12.3
Ireland 9.23 6.15 50.0 48.2 51.2 -5.99
Italy 170 28.3 499 447 347 28.9
Latvia 1.38 1.07 28.9 3.44 3.87 -11.1
Lithuania 3.07 2.24 37.4 7.61 10.7 -29.0
Luxembourg 4.97 2.80 77.5 12.5 11.9 4.57
Netherlands 24.2 29.5 -18.0 81.2 104 -21.6
Norway 15.3 12.5 23.1 36.3 32.4 12.2
Poland 47.8 29.7 61.3 118 108 9.50
Portugal 12.7 10.6 19.8 31.0 45.3 -31.5
Romania 7.86 6.65 18.1 20.8 28.0 -25.8
Slovakia 6.54 5.01 30.5 15.4 19.0 -18.8
Slovenia 7.07 2.74 158 16.3 14.3 13.8
Spain 85.8 37.6 128 186 219 -14.9
Sweden 47.5 27.6 71.7 90.9 66.1 37.4
Switzerland 25.2 17.6 43.7 56.5 55.5 1.88
United Kingdom 284 255 11.5 426 484 -12.0
EU + EFTA 1,388 853 62.7 3,081 3,055 0.849
Source: ACEA, Helgi Library

Sales by Manufacturers

Volkswagen Group sold the most cars in March 2021 in Europe, some 341 thousand vehicles representing 24.6% of the European market. Sales of PSA Group amounted to 212 thousand vehicles (or 15.3% of the market) while Renault Group and BMW Group held 7.80% and 7.50% of the European market in March. Overall, the five largest manufacturers sold 62.3% of all new cars in March:

Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group sold 341 thousand new passenger cars representing a 24.6% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in March 2021. This is 46.4% more vehicles and a 2.74 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. Looking back three years, VW's market share was 22.1%.

The Group sold 147 thousand of Volkswagen brand cars in March, followed by 72.5 thousand of Audis and 67.7 thousand of Skodas. Porsche sold 8.35 thousand vehicles and some cars in March 2021:

PSA Group

PSA Group sold 212 thousand new passenger cars representing a 15.3% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in March 2021. This is 125% more vehicles and a 4.25 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, the market share three years ago stood at 15.8% and is down by 0.479 pp now.

The Group sold 88.5 thousand of Peugeots cars, followed by 63.0 thousand of Opels and 56.4 thousand of Citroens in March 2021:

BMW Group

BMW Group sold 104 thousand new passenger cars representing a 7.47% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in March 2021. This is 42.9% more vehicles and a 1.03 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. Compared to three years ago, BMW Group's market share is now 0.772 pp higher.

The group sold 80.7 thousand of BMW brand cars, followed by 22.9 thousand of Minis in March 2021:

Hyundai Group

Hyundai Group sold 98.6 thousand new passenger cars representing a 7.10% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in March 2021. This is 46.8% more vehicles and a 0.770 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. Compared to three years ago, Hyundai Group's market share is now 0.588 pp higher.

The group sold 48.5 thousand of Kia brand cars, followed by of s in March 2021:

Renault Group

Renault Group sold 108 thousand new passenger cars representing a 7.81% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in March 2021. This is 64.6% more vehicles and a 0.090 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, three years ago, Renault Group's market share was 9.51%.

The group sold 73.8 thousand of Renault brand cars in March, followed by 34.2 thousand of Dacias and 0.166 thousand of Ladas:

FCA Group

FCA Group sold 80.0 thousand new passenger cars representing a 5.76% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in March 2021. This is 193% more vehicles and a 2.56 pp increase in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, three years ago FCA Group's market share stood at 6.60%.

The group sold 56.4 thousand of Fiat brand cars in March, followed by 15.2 thousand of Jeeps and 2.80 thousand of Alfa-Romeos:

Toyota Group

Toyota Group sold 82.4 thousand new passenger cars representing a 5.93% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in March 2021. This is 56.1% more vehicles and a 0.251 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. Toyota Group's market share three years ago, by comparison, stood at 4.66%.

The group sold 76.7 thousand of Toyota brand cars in March, with Lexus following at 5.68 thousand cars:

Jaguar Land Rover Group

Jaguar Land Rover Group sold 29.5 thousand new passenger cars representing a 2.12% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in March 2021. This is 25.8% more vehicles and a 0.622 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. Three years ago however, the market share of Jaguar Land Rover Group was 2.04%.

The group sold 23.0 thousand of Land Rovers in March, followed by 6.49 thousand of Jaguars:

Daimler Group

Daimler Group sold 89.5 thousand new passenger cars representing a 6.45% share of all new passenger cars sold in Europe in March 2021. This is 58.0% more vehicles and a 0.191 pp decrease in market share when compared to last year. By comparison, three years ago, Daimler Group's market share was 6.11%.

The group sold 85.5 thousand of Mercedes in March, followed by 3.99 thousand of Smart cars:

Overview of the Automotive Market

Based on a comparison of 64 countries, China ranked the highest with 20,178 thousand passenger cars sold in 2020 followed by Japan and the USA. Total sales of passenger cars reached 53,599 thousand in 2020 in the world, according to ACEA. This is 15.9% less than in the previous year and 3.98% less 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 2.39% since 1960.

The top ranked country, China, accounted for 37.6% of all passenger cars sold in the world. The top 3 countries held a 51.1% share while the ten largest countries some 75.9% in 2020.

China was the largest car producer in 2020 with 19,994 thousand followed by Japan and Germany. Total production of passenger cars reached 55,834 thousand in 2020 in the world, according to ACEA. China accounted for 35.8% of the world's production, while the top 3 countries held a 54.6% share and the ten largest countries some 79.3% in 2020:

Based on a comparison of 29 countries, Germany ranked the highest in sales of electric cars with 395 thousand followed by France and United Kingdom in 2020. When looking at the ratio of electric to total new cars sold, Norway ranked the highest with 74.8% followed by Iceland and Sweden:

By contrast, the Czech Republic ranked the highest in the number of petrol-fuelled as a proportion of new cars sold with 64.6%, followed by Poland and Slovakia. In terms of diesel-fuelled vehicles, Estonia ranked the highest with 44.8% followed by Ireland and Luxembourg:

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 16.8 years in Lithuania, 16.7 years years for Estonia and 16.5 years years in Romania. On the other end of the scale was Austria with 8.30 years years, the United Kingdom with 8.00 years years and Luxembourg with 6.50 years years.

Overview of Car Manufacturers

Based on a comparison of 27 firms among Global Car Producers, Volkswagen Group generated the highest sales in 2019 followed by Toyota Motor Corporation and Daimler Group. At the same time, Toyota Motor Corporation had the highest market value followed by Volkswagen Group and Tesla Inc.:

Volkswagen Group generated the highest earnings before interest costs, taxes and depreciation (so called EBITDA) in 2019 followed by Toyota Motor Corporation and General Motors. 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).

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