European car sales pick up speed but still in slow lane
European car sales climbed in June from May as consumers emerged from coronavirus lockdowns, but were still down by 22.3 percent from last year, an industry trade group said Thursday.
Sales hit their nadir in April, falling by 76 percent to just over 270,000 units sold as non-essential businesses in many European countries were shut to slow the spread of the virus. Unit sales began to recover in May as many nations started to lift lockdown orders, but they were still down by over 50 percent from 2019.
Sales in June came in just short of 950,000 vehicles, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). "Although dealerships opened for business again after lockdown measures were lifted, consumer demand did not fully recover last month," it said in a statement.
France was the only EU country to post an increase in sales over June 2019, with a 1.2 percent rise. That "can be explained by the new incentives to stimulate sales of low‐emission vehicles that were introduced by the French government at the beginning of June," the ACEA said.
Sales in Germany were down by a third while declining by 37 percent in Spain and 23 percent in Italy. Among the major European manufacturers, Fiat-Chrysler and France's PSA, which are in the process of merging, both suffered 28 percent drops, well above the 22.3 percent average drop for June. The only manufacturer to show an increase in sales was Volvo, which posted a 1.6 percent gain.