Economic and Market Report: state of the EU auto industry – First three quarters of 2020

ACEA has published the latest edition of its Economic and Market Report, covering the first three quarters of 2020. The report contains the latest figures on the registration, production and trade of passenger cars and commercial vehicles, both in Europe and around the world.

The 26-page Economic and Market Report contains a wealth of information and can be downloaded for free by clicking here.

Key takeaways

EU economic outlook

  • The COVID‐19 pandemic and related containment measures have plunged the European economy into its deepest recession since World War II.
  • EU GDP is forecast to contract by 7.4% in 2020, before recovering by 4.1% in 2021.
  • The EU unemployment rate is set to increase from 7.7% in 2020 to 8.6% next year.

Passenger car registrations

  • Over the first nine months of 2020, EU demand for cars contracted by 28.8%.
  • In the United States, passenger car sales went down 21.1% at 8 million units.
  • Japanese car sales in the first nine months contracted by 18.1%.
  • Car registrations in China are now down 13.2% to 13 million units.

Passenger car production

  • So far this year, passenger car output in Europe fell by 29.2% to under 10 million units.
  • US car production slipped by 27% to 4.1 million units over the first three quarters of 2020.
  • Brazil saw a marked decline of 39% as a result of the disruptions caused by COVID‐19.
  • Some 11.7 million cars were produced in China between January to September, down 19.1%.

Exports and imports of passenger cars

  • From January to August 2020, the EU exported €70 billion worth of passenger cars, which was more than €23 billion lower than a year ago.
  • The total export volume of EU-made cars saw a year‐to‐date drop of 27.7%.
  • With a 20% share, the United States was the leading source of EU imports (by value) in 2020 to date, three percentage points ahead of the United Kingdom (down 40.6% so far).

Commercial vehicle registrations

  • Nine months into the year, the EU market for new commercial vehicles had contracted by 24.5%, totalling 1,206,259 units registered.
  • Registrations of vans in the EU fell by 22.8% to 1 million units from January to September.
  • A total of 175,857 new trucks were registered so far this year, or 32.6% fewer than in 2019.

Commercial vehicle production

  • Commercial vehicle output on the European continent is expected to decrease during 2020 by 24% to reach 2.7 million units.
  • In North America, full-year 2020 production will decline 27.5% to 3.4 million units.
  • China’s commercial vehicle output is expected to decline by 8.6% to 4.8 million units.
  • Japanese and South Korean production is forecast to reach 1.2 million units, down 18.5%.

Exports and imports of commercial vehicles

  • Between January and August 2020, both imports and exports of commercial vehicles fell significantly (34.0% and 30.5% respectively).
  • Nevertheless, commercial vehicles provided the EU with a trade surplus of approximately €4 billion so far this year, although this was €1.5 billion less than in 2019.

Should you have any additional questions about this Economic and Market Report, please contact the ACEA Statistics department.


Reproduction of the content of this document is not permitted without the prior written consent of ACEA. Whenever reproduction is permitted, ACEA shall be referred to as source of the information. Quoting or referring to this document is permitted provided ACEA is referred to as the source of the information. 


This information was presumed to be correct at the time of publication. However, ACEA is not responsible for any inconsistencies or errors in the data.

Content type Publication
Vehicle types All vehicles
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