| 2:31 PM EST

Car Sales Plunge 52% Across Europe

Coronavirus lockdowns keep buyers away.
#Hyundai #Land Rover #Audi

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Most major carmakers don’t report sales by month in the U.S. anymore. But in Europe, where they still do, the picture for March wasn’t pretty.

Figures from trade group ACEA show that last month’s registrations of new passenger vehicles fell 52% to 853,100 units across Europe, including a 55% drop within the European Union.

For the first quarter, sales for eastern and western Europe fell 26%.

March Pileup

ACEA notes that the slump came almost entirely in the second half of March as countries imposed stay-at-home measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic. In general, the earlier they did so, the steeper their sales decline for the month.

That’s why sales in Italy, the earliest in the region to see a sharp upswing in infections, plummeted 85% in March.

But the numbers were grim for Europe’s other four largest markets too. Sales last month skidded 38% in Germany, 44% in the U.K., 69% in Spain and 72% in France.

Pain for All

With consumers unable to get out and buy, the sales crash hit all carmakers and every market segment.

Year-on-year volumes fell sharply across Europe for the region’s top three producers: Volkswagen Group (-44% to 233,200 vehicles), PSA (-67% to 94,200) and Renault (-64% to 65,800).

FCA’s deliveries in Europe by 74% to a paltry 27,300 vehicles. Ford sales plummeted 61% to 43,800 cars.

Even Hyundai-Kia and Toyota, the region’s two best-selling foreign carmakers, reported drops of 42% and 36%, respectively.

Lockdown orders meant that luxury marques weren’t spared either. Volumes plunged for Audi (-44%), BMW (-41%), Jaguar (54%), Land Rover (-39%) and Mercedes-Benz (-37%).

What’s Next?

As in the U.S., sales for April are likely to get worse in Europe. But some of the region’s largest markets are already studying ways to reopen at least part of their economies.

In Germany, nonessential businesses have been shut down since March 16. But earlier this week the central government cleared dealerships, whose repair operations have been open all along, to resume sales as soon April 20.

As in the U.S., it will be up to state-level government to decide the timing.

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