Oxford, UK – Western European car registrations were down to 760,000 units in January 2021. This represents a 26% decline compared with 1.02m in January 2020, according to data from LMC Automotive.
Coronavirus suppression squeezes western Europe vehicle demand
Demand was suppressed by national lockdowns. Several government help-to-buy schemes ended and, in several markets, taxation rules were changed. These issues also affected demand.
Looking at the largest markets, sales in Germany were down by 31% in January at 169,754 units. Sales were hit as a VAT reduction on new vehicle purchases in December 2020 ended. In the UK, sales were down 40% year on year, with a total of 90,200 cars sold in the month.
In France, registrations fell by 5.8% with a total of 126,000 units sold there. Spanish sales were down by 52% in the month, at 42,000 units. The fall in Italian sales was lower, at 14%, with a total of 134,000 vehicles sold in January.
Looking to the rest of the year, LMC Automotive said it has lowered it expectations, as lockdowns are having a bigger impact than it had previously assumed. Mass vaccination may be the light at the end of the tunnel, but this depends on how fast the vaccines can be rolled out, and what proportion of each nation’s populations are protected. There is also a shortage of silicon chips, which could also be a brake on sales in the next few months.