Economic and Market Report: state of the EU auto industry – Full-year 2020

ACEA has published the full-year 2020 edition of its Economic and Market Report with the latest figures on the registration, production and trade of passenger cars and commercial vehicles, showing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the auto industry in Europe and around the world.

The full-year 2020 Economic and Market Report counts 26 pages and contains a wealth of information, it can be downloaded for free by clicking here.

Key takeaways

EU economic outlook

  • The EU economy ended 2020 in the grip of the deepest recession since World War II, with GDP contracting by a record 6.3% last year.
  • Forecasts now predict GDP growth in the EU of 3.7% in 2021 and 3.9% in 2022.

Passenger car registrations

  • The number of passenger cars sold worldwide fell by 15.3% to 63.4 million last year.
  • Throughout 2020, the European car market posted a significant decline (-20.6%).
  • In the United States, results went down 16.6% to 11.2 million units sold last year.  
  • Chinese car sales reached 19.7 million units in 2020, a retreat of 6.8% on the 2019 total.

Passenger car production

  • Passenger car production in Europe contracted by 22.3% to 14.1 million units. 
  • The United States closed the year with car output dropping 17.6% compared with 2019.
  • Brazil saw production thumble by 34.3% to 1.6 million units manufactured last year.
  • More than 19.3 million cars were built in China overall last year, a drop of 6.4%.

Exports and imports of passenger cars

  • The European Union exported €110 billion worth of passenger cars between January and November last year, some €21 billion less than the year before.
  • With a 20% share, the United States accounted for the highest value of EU-imported cars, up 13.0% compared with January to November 2019.

Commercial vehicle registrations

  • The number of vans, trucks and buses registered throughout the EU region contracted by 18.9% last year to 1.7 million units overall.
  • The medium and heavy commercial vehicle category ended 2020 in negative territory, with registrations plummeting by 25.7% to 247,499 units for the full year.
  • New bus and coach registrations throughout the European Union contracted by 20.3% in 2020, reaching 29,147 new registrations in total.

Commercial vehicle production

  • Overall in 2020, European commercial vehicle and bus output decreased by 17.7% to around 3.0 million vehicles.
  • South American commercial vehicle production ended 2020 at 0.6 million units, a contraction of 20.0% compared with 2019.
  • Greater China recorded a significant increase in 2020, up 14.6% to 6 million units.
  • Production in Japan and South Korea contracted by 16.3% to 1.2 million vehicles. 

Exports and imports of commercial vehicles

  • Between January and November 2020, both imports and exports of commercial vehicles fell significantly (24.4% and 22.7% respectively) in terms of value.
  • International trade in commercial vehicles provided the EU with a trade surplus of €6 billion in the first 11 months of 2020, €1.5 billion lower than the year before. 

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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