EU new-car registrations down in February

18 March 2020

18 March 2020

Passenger-car registrations in the EU fell by 7.4% in February and in the first two months of 2020, according to the latest figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

This decline to 957,052 registered units last month came as the result of a multitude of factors. ACEA is pointing to changes in vehicle taxation in several EU states (which brought registrations forward to December 2019), weakening global economic conditions and consumer uncertainty.

Market results

Germany recorded one of the most significant drops of 10.8%, from 268,867 registrations in February 2019 to 239,943 in February 2020. Italy saw a decrease of 8.8% from 178,493 to 162,793. Spain went from 100,693 registrations in February 2019 to 94,620 in the same period this year, a fall of 6%. France experienced a drop of 2.7%, from 172,438 (February 2019) to 167,782 (February 2020). The largest decline was seen in Bulgaria, 29.2%, from 2,809 registrations in the second month of 2019 to 1,988 in February 2020. Meanwhile, the biggest increase took place in Lithuania, up 36.9% to 4,254 in February 2020 compared with 3,107 in the same month of 2019.

From January to February 2020, total new-car registrations in the EU were 7.4% lower than in the same period in 2019. So far this year, each of the four major EU markets has experienced falling demand. Germany went from 534,569 vehicle registrations in the first two months of 2019 to 486,24, a 9.0% decline. France was down 7.8%, registering 327,517 new cars in January to February 2019 and 302,011 in the same period in 2020. Italy went from 343,764 registrations in 2019 to 318,545, a drop of 7.3%. Spain's registrations fell by 6.8%, 194,231 in 2019 to 181,063 in 2020.

Manufacturer numbers

Mazda recorded the greatest drop in demand, down 30.2% from 14,590 units in February 2019 to 10,180 in the same month of this year. Their market share went from 1.4% in February 2019 to 1.1% in February 2020. Ford also suffered with 19.8% fewer registrations in the month, going from a market share of 5.6% in February last year to 4.9% this year.

Toyota Group was able to buck the downward trend by growing their market share from 4.7% in February 2019 to 5.6% this year. Recording an increase of 11.5%, the Japanese carmaker moved 53,850 units in February 2020, compared with 48,277 in the same period last year.

Further factors

The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the first few months of this year is not to be understated, given its impact on consumer confidence and the global economy. The credit rating agency Moody's' slashed its global vehicle sales forecast in its February update ′due to the coronavirus outbreak reducing demand and disrupting automotive supply chains.'

The ongoing impact of Brexit is also worth bearing in mind. ACEA now excludes the UK from EU registration figures and retrospectively applied this change to ensure like-for-like comparisons. ′Although the UK was still part of the EU in January 2020, ACEA has decided to base the entire 2020 cycle of press releases – including the month of January – on the new EU27 aggregate (excluding the United Kingdom). This will improve clarity in reporting data and will result in one full-year total for 2020 based on a single perimeter, i.e. the EU27,' ACEA said in a statement issued last month.