EU new car sales down 22% in June as demand remains weak

15 May 2020, Lower Saxony, Lehrte: New Volkswagen vehicles are parked in a parking lot

15 May 2020, Lower Saxony, Lehrte: New Volkswagen vehicles are parked in a parking lot of a logistics company. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images
15 May 2020, Lower Saxony, Lehrte: New Volkswagen vehicles are parked in a parking lot of a logistics company. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images

New car registrations ticked up a little in June in the European Union as coronavirus restrictions lifted, but were still 22.3% lower than the same month a year ago.

Statistics from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) today said that across the EU, just 949,722 vehicles were sold last month.

While that is a slight improvement from May, when sales were down 52%, June’s numbers highlight just how slowly demand is picking up despite dealerships reopening as job insecurity and fears of further waves of the pandemic put people off big-ticket purchases.

Over the first half of the year, registrations were down more than 38% compared to the first six months of 2019.

Chart: European Automobile Manufacturers Association
Chart: European Automobile Manufacturers Association

All EU markets saw sales declines, with the exception of France, which posted a 1% uptick, thanks to the government’s stimulus in the form of big subsidies on low-emission cars.

New car sales in Spain slumped nearly 37%, Italy by 23%, and Germany, the EU’s automotive powerhouse, recorded a drop of over 32%.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Tentative restart to UK car market in June

The UK is no longer counted in the ACEA’s statistics. Figures released early this months by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed a slight uptick in new car registrations in June, though still 35% down on June last year.

“While it’s welcome to see demand rise above the rock-bottom levels we saw during lockdown, this is not a recovery and barely a restart,” SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said.

The SMMT has warned that one in six jobs in the British automotive sector could be lost in the wake of the pandemic.

In Germany, where the automotive industry is one of the country’s biggest employers, carmakers and suppliers will be forced to make job cuts, in the face of ongoing collapse in demand.  

“The slump in the market is unprecedented in its scale and global scope,” Hildegard Müller, president of the German Automotive Industry Association (VDA) said recently.