Western Europe’s car market looking up

GlobalData forecasts the Western European light vehicle market at 15 million in 2021, 20.3% ahead of 2020 but still over 1.3 million units short of 2019’s market level.

Calum MacRae, Automotive Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The year was off to a tough start with vehicle sales in January across Europe heavily impacted by pandemic-related population restrictions.”

GlobalData’s analysis shows that total light vehicle sales in Western Europe in January were just under 896,000 units, a decline of some 24% on last year. However, the comparison with last year is with a base before the pandemic hit. Year-on-year percentage changes for Europe’s car market are set to show very strong gains in the coming spring months.

MacRae continues: “Countries with lockdowns fared the worst in January. Of the major markets, worst hit was Spain, with light vehicle sales down by almost 50%, while the UK and Germany showed declines of 34% and 30%, respectively.

“However, the car market in Europe is looking up, although it’s a gain from a low base and the industry will continue to be under pressure with demand below normal levels. On the upside, vaccine rollout offers the hope of a relaxation of restrictions as we go through the year, and that should bring more buyers to market.

“Western Europe’s underlying fortunes will continue to be tied to the pandemic’s progress, lockdown status and the success and speed of vaccine rollouts. Thereafter the market could develop in one of two ways. Economic reality will kick in as government support is gradually tapered. Or there’s a resurgence in consumer confidence in a euphoric response to a return to a semblance of normality – the so-called ‘Roaring Twenties Mk II’.”

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