Car sales plunge 24% in Europe, says automobile manufacturers group

New cars parked at a showroom. File photo

PARIS: New car sales in Europe plunged 24% from a year earlier to a record low in January as the coronavirus pandemic kept the market under pressure, an industry survey showed Wednesday.

In 2020, marked by strict lockdowns and economic upheaval, car sales in the 27-member European Union slumped by some 3.0 million to under 10 million, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers┬┤ Association (ACEA).

“In January 2021, the EU passenger car market posted an accelerated decline, as COVID-related restrictions continued to weigh heavily on sales across the European Union,” the ACEA said in a statement.

It said 726,491 vehicles were sold in the month, down from 956,447 in January 2020.

Spain was the worst hit, with a fall of 51.5%, followed by Germany down 31.1% and Belgium 27.2%.

France fared comparatively better, with a drop of 5.8% while Italy was down 14%.

Sweden managed an increase of 22.5%.

Outside the EU, sales in the UK plummeted 39.5%, the worst performance since 1970, the ACEA noted.

By maker, Volkswagen group sales tumbled 26.8% in January, with Stellantis — formerly Fiat-Peugeot — down 26.1% as Renault lost 21.6%.

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