EU car sales: COVID recovery expected to start in 2021, auto industry says

Brussels, 3 February 2021 – After a year that saw the sharpest drop ever in EU car sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) forecasts that 2021 will mark a first step on the path to recovery, with sales rising by about 10% compared to 2020. The fallout of COVID is expected to persist into the first quarter of 2021, but the car market should pick up in the second half of the year as vaccination programmes progress.

“Now more than ever it is crucial that we work hand in hand with EU policy makers to strengthen the competitiveness of Europe’s auto industry on the global stage,” stated ACEA’s new President, Oliver Zipse, who is also CEO of BMW.

“Thanks to the global business model of European auto manufacturers and international demand for EU-made vehicles, production facilities in Europe were able to benefit from more swiftly-recovering markets last year, notably those in Asia,” noted Mr Zipse. “Nevertheless, the sustainable economic recovery of the European Union and local demand is vital for our return to pre-crisis strength.”

Boosted by increasing industry investments and national support measures to stimulate demand during the COVID crisis, the market share of electrically-chargeable cars grew strongly last year, with provisional 2020 figures showing an EU-wide market share of 10.5 % (up from 3% in 2019).

“With the right policy support, including a massive ramp-up of charging and refuelling infrastructure for alternative fuels across all EU member states, this positive trend can continue,” Zipse stressed. “Despite the economic pressures caused by the pandemic, our industry remains fully committed to its ongoing transformation to carbon neutrality.”

Decarbonisation, together with digitalisation, is also changing the nature of technologies that go into vehicles. With this in mind, ACEA is calling for a realistic European strategy on access to the supplies and raw materials which are necessary for state-of-the-art vehicles. Indeed, recent microchip shortages illustrate how disruptive a sudden interruption of crucial supplies can be to the industry, with its complex supply chains and a just-in-time business model that already is under a pressure because of Brexit.

Zipse: “Our sector is working hard to recover and rise to the challenges ahead. Because an EU auto industry that is strong – both at home and globally – will not only contribute to strengthening Europe’s economy, but also to reaching its climate ambitions.”

After a year that saw the sharpest drop ever in EU car sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ACEA forecasts that 2021 will mark a first step on the path to recovery, with sales rising by about 10% compared to 2020.


Notes for editors

About ACEA

  • The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) represents the 15 major Europe-based car, van, truck and bus makers: BMW Group, CNH Industrial, DAF Trucks, Daimler, Ferrari, Ford of Europe, Honda Motor Europe, Hyundai Motor Europe, Jaguar Land Rover, Renault Group, Stellantis, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen Group, Volvo Cars, and Volvo Group.
  • Visit www.acea.auto for more information about ACEA, and follow us on www.twitter.com/ACEA_auto or www.linkedin.com/company/ACEA/.
  • Contact: Cara McLaughlin, Communications Director, cm@acea.auto, +32 485 88 66 47.

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About the EU automobile industry

  • 12.6 million Europeans work in the auto industry (directly and indirectly), accounting for 6.6% of all EU jobs.
  • 11.6% of EU manufacturing jobs – some 3.5 million – are in the automotive sector.
  • Motor vehicles are responsible for €398.4 billion of tax revenue for governments across key European markets.
  • The automobile industry generates a trade surplus of €76.3 billion for the EU.
  • The turnover generated by the auto industry represents more than 8% of the EU’s GDP.
  • Investing €62 billion in R&D annually, the automotive sector is Europe’s largest private contributor to innovation, accounting for 33% of total EU spending.
Content type Press release
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