COVID: stakes are high for European automotive recovery, new facts and figures show

Brussels, 30 July 2020 – The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has published its annual Pocket Guide that provides an overview of the EU auto industry, including the latest sector-specific data on employment, vehicle production and sales, road safety, R&D, the environment and trade flows.

New data in this flagship publication confirm that the automobile industry is a key pillar of the European economy, and as such, is vital to the wider post-COVID-19 recovery of the continent. Indeed, the turnover generated by the auto industry represents over 7% of total EU GDP.

“Automobile manufacturers are unfortunately now facing very strong headwinds in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, which has hit our sector with an unprecedented force,” stated Eric-Mark Huitema, ACEA Director General.

“In the interest of the economic health of the continent, we are calling on EU and national policy makers to urgently step up their political, economic and practical support to our industry,” Huitema said. “It is time to turn words into actions, and to find pragmatic solutions that will help us weather the storm.”

According to the 2020-2021 edition of the Automotive Industry Pocket Guide:

  • The automotive ecosystem provides work to 14.6 million Europeans, representing 6.7% of total employment in the European Union.
  • With 2.7 million people working on the manufacturing of vehicles at 226 factories in the EU, the auto industry accounts for 8.5% of total manufacturing jobs in the region.
  • Almost 18 million vehicles were ‘made in Europe’ in 2019, representing 20% of global vehicle production.
  • 5.6 million of these vehicles were exported around the world, generating a trade surplus of €74 billion for the EU last year.
  • The auto industry is by far the biggest spender on R&D in the EU, investing an impressive €60.9 billion annually (+6.1% on the previous year), or 29% of the region’s total spending.
  • Europe also leads the world when it comes to self-driving vehicles, responsible for a third of all global patent applications.
  • There are 313 million vehicles in circulation on Europe’s roads today. Apart from ensuring that people and goods can move freely across the continent, these vehicles are a major source of government revenue, bringing in over €440.4 billion in taxes each year.

Today, however, the European automobile industry finds itself in an extremely difficult situation. Indeed, vehicle manufacturers had to shutter their development centres and production sites in the EU for an average of 30 working days during the lockdown period, leading to production losses of more than 2.4 million motor vehicles so far. And looking ahead, car sales are expected to contract by a record-breaking 25% in 2020.

Huitema: “We stand committed to work with policy makers in Brussels and the EU member states to ensure that our sector can survive and recover – thereby protecting jobs, production and future investments.”

We stand committed to work with policy makers in Brussels and the EU member states to ensure that our sector can survive and recover – thereby protecting jobs, production and future investments.

Notes for editors

  • The 2020-2021 edition of ACEA’s Automotive Industry Pocket Guide can be downloaded here:

About ACEA

  • The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) represents the 15 major Europe-based car, van, truck and bus makers: BMW Group, DAF Trucks, Daimler Truck, Ferrari, Ford of Europe, Honda Motor Europe, Hyundai Motor Europe, Iveco Group, JLR, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Renault Group, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen Group, and Volvo Group
  • Visit for more information about ACEA, and follow us on or


  • Ben Kennard, Senior Communications Manager,, +32 485 88 66 44

About the EU automobile industry

  • 12.9 million Europeans work in the automotive sector
  • 8.3% of all manufacturing jobs in the EU
  • €392.2 billion in tax revenue for European governments
  • €101.9 billion trade surplus for the European Union
  • Over 7% of EU GDP generated by the auto industry
  • €59.1 billion in R&D spending annually, 31% of EU total
Content type Press release
Vehicle types All vehicles
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