European Auto Sales Down by 55% in March, 25% for Q1

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) reported that new registrations (a proxy for sales) in March fell by 55.1% year over year. The January and February declines were 7.5% and 7.4%, respectively.

Containment and lockdown measures related to the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in the European Union in the second half of March, resulting in the closure of “the vast majority” of European dealerships, according to the ACEA.

For the first quarter of the year, EU sales were down 25.6%. Major market sales fell sharply, with Italy down 35.5%, France down 34.1%, Spain down 31.0%, and Germany 20.3% lower. Sales in the United Kingdom were down 31%, but the ACEA no longer includes the country in its EU statistics. Including U.K. sales, unit sales for the first quarter fell from 4.15 million a year ago to 3.05 million, a drop of 26.3%.

Of the two Detroit automakers that still sell vehicles in Europe, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) saw its March market share in the EU slip from 7.4% in 2019 to 3.9%. Unit sales totaled 22,070, down by 76.6% year over year. Sales of the Fiat brand tumbled by 75.1%, while Jeep sales fell by 76.1%. For the year to date, FCA held EU market share of 6.4%, down from 7.2% in 2019, on sales of 158,528 units, a 34.1% year-over-year decline.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) sold 24,572 units in March, a year-over-year decrease of 95.1% for the month. The company’s March market share rang in at 4.3%, down from 6.1% a year ago. For the first quarter, Ford sales fell by 37.9% to 117,571 units and its market share shrank from 5.7% to 4.7%.

The top-selling automaker in the EU (excluding the United Kingdom) is Volkswagen, which sold 164,653 vehicles in March, down 46.2% year over year for the month, while market share improved from 24.2% a year ago to 29.0%. For the quarter, VW sold 660,009 million vehicles in the EU, a decrease of 19.1% in volume. Market share for the quarter rose from 24.5% in 2019 to 26.6%.

PSA Group, makers of Peugeot and Citroen, among other brands, posted a March sales decrease of 68.1% to 68,816 units. The company’s market share dropped from 17.1% to 12.1% for the month and from 17.5% to 16.0% for the year. PSA sold 396,301 vehicles in the first quarter, a year-over-year decline of 32.1%.

Renault Group posted a volume decrease of 64.7% to 55,663 units in March, and its year-over-year share slipped from 12.5% to 9.8%. For the first quarter, volume fell by 35.5%, while the company’s market share dropped from 11.5% to 10.0%.

BMW Group’s market share increased year over year from 5.8% to 7.6%. The company sold 43,423 units last month, down by 40.7% compared with year-ago March sales of 94,291. For the quarter, BMW’s share rose from 5.6% to 6.5% and unit sales fell by 13.5% to 160,327.

Daimler posted a market share increase last month, rising from 5.1% in March 2019 to 6.8%, with sales totaling 38,792 units. On a volume basis, sales rose 39.4% year over year. For the quarter, volume decreased by 21.3% and the company’s market share increased from 5.5% in 2019 to 5.8%.

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) posted market share of 5.8% in March, up from 4.5% a year ago. Sales volume tumbled by 41.2% to 33,159 units. For the quarter, Toyota sales fell 6.8% and its market share rose from 4.7% to 5.9%.

The EU country with the most sales in 2019 was Germany, where 3.61 million new vehicles were sold, an increase of 5% compared to 2018 sales. The United Kingdom posted 2019 sales of 2.37 million units, a year-over-year decline of 2.4%, and sales in France improved by 1.9% to 2.21 million units in 2019. Sales in Spain dropped 2.4% to 2.31 million units, and Italian sales rose 0.3% to 1.92 million. No other EU nation topped a million units.