As Europe’s auto industry re-opens for business, May markets exceed expectations

For the three national markets of France, Italy and Spain, combined new light vehicle sales fell by 55% on last year to 268,000 in May, which compares with a 75% drop in March and a staggering 93% decline in April;

Calum MacRae, Automotive Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“After the seized up and locked down markets of March and April, this is a welcome sign of life in markets that were the first in Europe to be engulfed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Individually, France’s market performed the best, with a 47.3% year-on-year fall for light vehicle sales, with Italy falling just under 53% and Spain by 70.6%. Of the three markets, Spain performed closest to GlobalData’s expectations for May with 3,000 more units sold than forecast. France’s sales nearly doubled expectations, while Italy registered 40,000 more.

“It’s early days, but May’s performance could see GlobalData’s forecast for the market revised upwards. The reporting markets accounted for 36.5% of European light vehicle sales in 2019, so it would be brave to make too many inferences from the sample, but it’s a broadly encouraging set of results. Currently, we forecast a 25.1% fall in European light vehicle sales in 2020 to 15.4 million.

“Much depends on how markets settle down in the coming weeks as the initial wave of pent-up demand is met and we start to get a feel for how economies are really performing in the wake of this unprecedented crisis. We are still a long way off pre-crisis norms, but the automotive market is at least getting up off the floor.”

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