LMC Automotive European Passenger Car Sales Update (February 2021)

2021/03/08

Summary

  • The West European selling rate edged up slightly in February, to 10.3 mn units/year, a negligible improvement on a poor start to the year that affirms the fact that the region is still amid a crisis. Most markets remain marred by pandemic-induced restrictions, though some progress on vaccine roll-out, albeit gradual, means there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • In Germany the selling rate remained low, at 2.7 mn units/year, as the VAT distortion hangover damaged a market already restrained by lockdown measures. For the UK, the selling rate improved slightly on January, but was still weak, at 1.6 mn units/year. Spanish registrations remained low as the selling rate came in at just 660k units/year. In France, the selling rate fell further, to 1.6 mn units/year in February, while Italy’s selling rate remained flat at 1.5 mn units/year.

  • Our outlook for 2021 has been lowered by circa 100k units since last month’s report. This is based on ongoing lockdown measures seen across the region suppressing demand well below pre-crisis levels, as well as the region’s relatively slow roll out of vaccines that will inevitably draw out selling rate recovery. Even so, we maintain our expectation of a marked improvement in sales for full-year 2021, particularly in H2 2021 as restrictions should be lifted and consumer confidence could gain some much-needed momentum.