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Car sales in Europe fall to record lows

European car sales fell to a record low in 2020.

Sales across the European Union fell 23.7%. Just 9.9m new vehicles were registered, which is down from the 13m new cars that were registered in 2019.

The biggest fall was in Spain, where sales dropped by 32.3%. In Italy, sales fell ‐27.9% whilst in France they were down by 25%.

Sales remained weak over the whole pandemic, however, were lowest in March and April amid the initial lockdowns.

“Containment measures – including full‐ scale lockdowns and other restrictions throughout the year – had an unprecedented impact on car sales across the European Union. 2020 saw the biggest yearly drop in car demand, said industry body ACEA.

In the UK, car sales slumped by over 29% last year to 1.63m, from 2.3m a year.

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of SMMT, said: “2020 will be seen as a ‘lost year’ for Automotive, with the sector under pandemic-enforced shutdown for much of the year and uncertainty over future trading conditions taking their toll.

“However, with the rollout of vaccines and clarity over our new relationship with the EU, we must make 2021 a year of recovery. With manufacturers bringing record numbers of electrified vehicles to market over the coming months, we will work with government to encourage drivers to make the switch, while promoting investment in our globally-renowned manufacturing base – recharging the market, industry and economy.”

Sales in electric cars almost trebled this year whilst sales of petrol and diesel cars have plunged. 

The SMMT commented on the continuing demand for battery and hybrid vehicles: “Market share for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) continued to grow significantly, up 122.4% and 76.9% respectively.

“BEVs recorded their third highest ever monthly share of registrations at 9.1%, while PHEV share increased to 6.8% – a combined total of more than 18,000 new zero-emission capable cars joining Britain’s roads.”

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