International vehicle markets: February brings renewed fall in sales

    Berlin, March 17, 2020

    China suffering badly from Corona pandemic – Europe, Japan and India also down on last year – US and Brazil increase sales – More falls are expected

    Sales on the international automotive markets decreased again in February. Passenger car sales in China collapsed under the impact of the Corona pandemic and the measures taken to contain the virus. Results from the European passenger car market (EU-28 and EFTA) were also down on last year. Japan and India recorded contraction on their markets. However, the falls there and on other markets this month are, unlike the situation in China, not yet connected with the ongoing corona pandemic. In contrast, the US sales figures showed a year-on-year rise in February. In the coming months, however, sharp falls in sales of passenger cars and light vehicles can be expected due to the coronavirus, and not only in China.

    In Europe a total of 1.1 million passenger cars were newly registered in February, 7 percent less than last year. Among the five largest national markets, the shrinkage was largest in Germany (-11 percent), followed by Italy with a loss of 9 percent. In Spain the market volume shed 6 percent. France and the United Kingdom both recorded falls of 3 percent. In the first two months of this year, 2.2 million passenger cars were newly registered across Europe, which was 7 percent less than in 2019.

    In the US, by contrast, the February sales volume added 8 percent to reach 1.4 million light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks). Sales of cars fell by 5 percent, while the light truck segment expanded by 14 percent. The statistics were bolstered by two additional working days in February 2020. The US has recorded rising figures since the beginning of this year. The year-to-date total of 2.5 million light vehicles sold equates to growth of 4 percent.

    In China, the corona crisis was already having a severe impact last month. The passenger car market collapsed by 82 percent, falling to 224,000 units. After the Chinese New Year festival, far-reaching measures for containing the corona pandemic came into force. This had massive effects on the sales of passenger cars. In the first two months of the year 1.8 million new vehicles were sold in China, i.e. 44 percent less than in the same period a year ago.

    In India 251,500 passenger cars were sold last month. That was around 8 percent less than in February 2019 and shows that customers are still reluctant to buy new cars. Since the beginning of the year, 514,200 cars have been sold in India –7 percent down on the first two months of last year.

    In February the Japanese passenger car market lost 10 percent and totaled 362,100 units. The sales figures in Japan have decreased markedly since the increase in value-added tax in October 2019. This year 663,200 passenger cars have been sold so far, which represents a year-to-date fall of 11 percent.

    Sales of light vehicles in Brazil rose by 2 percent in February to 193,300 new vehicles. This year’s accumulated total is currently on 378,000 newly registered light vehicles, i.e. 1 percent less than in the first two months of 2019.

      February 2020 January-February 2020
      Units Change
    20/19 in %
    Units Change
    20/19 in %
    Europe (EU28+EFTA)*1) 1,066,800 -7.2 2,202,000 -7.3
    European Union (EU-28)*1) 1,036,600 -7.1 2,142,800 -7.3
    Western Europe (EU15+EFTA) 1) 964,400 -6.9 1,990,200 -7.3
    New EU Countries (EU13)*1) 102,400 -9.7 211,800 -7.8
    USA* 3) 1,356,300 8.4 2,492,000 4.5
    Japan 4) 362,100 -9.8 663,200 -10.8
    Brazil* 5) 193,300 1.6 378,000 -0.9
    India 6) 251,500 -7.6 514,200 -6.9
    China 7) 224,000 -81.7 1,810,000 -43.8

    Sources: 1) National Associatons 2) AEB 3) WardsAuto 4) JAMA 5) ANFAVEA
    6) SIAM 7) CAAM

    *without Malta

    *Light Vehicles