The West European selling rate rose to 14.4 mn units/year in December, with car registrations down 3.8% year‐on‐year (YoY). Another surge in COVID‐19 cases across the region damaged any hope of December providing some meaningful improvement on the full‐year figure, which ended 2020 24.5% below 2019’s result.
The German selling rate improved last month, up to 4.2 mn units/year. In the UK, the selling rate rose slightly to 2.0 mn units/year, with sales down 10.9% YoY. In Italy, sales for December fell 14.9% YoY, while the selling rate remained broadly flat at 1.9 mn units/year. French registrations fell 11.8% YoY, a particularly poor result considering car showrooms were permitted to reopen at the start of last month. Spanish registrations remained flat in YoY terms, though the selling rate rose slightly to 1.3 mn units/year.
In one of the most challenging years for the automotive industry during the post‐war period, West European passenger car sales ended 2020 at 10.8 mn units for the full‐year. Other developments through the year have been dwarfed by the unprecedented falls in registrations seen during March, April and May, as COVID‐19 cases surged and showrooms shut down. The subsequent path to recovery has been long and uneven. Welcomed incentive support schemes could not fully offset the longer‐term challenges of the economic environment, marred by further outbreaks of the virus, which disrupted any significant recovery in consumer confidence.