European used car sales down just 0.4% in 2020

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Used car sales in Europe ended 2020 just 0.4% after an “unseasonably healthy” performance in December helped offset the havoc of the pandemic.

An “unseasonably healthy” performance in December helped offset the havoc of the pandemic

Indicata – which supplied the figures from the 12th edition of its Market Watch report – said it was a remarkable performance.

Across the year, and out of the five largest car markets, the UK and France both saw used car sales for the year fall compared to 2019 – by 12.3% and 4.9% respectively. But this was offset by healthy rates of growth in Germany (+3.6%) Italy (+4.5%) and strong growth of +25.7% in Spain.

The 2020 performance was also largely helped by a 4.2% rise in sales across Europe in December.

December sales were up by 26.4% in Italy, 24.2% in Sweden and 21.2% in Portugal year-on-year. Spain too saw used car sales rise 13.7% YoY in December, as did the UK with a 4.9% uplift.

December’s turnaround performance was driven by the popularity of stock of six-year-old cars and younger. This included a 172% rise in sales year-on-year for battery electric vehicles and a 111% increase in hybrid sales, while sales for petrol and diesel cars remained relatively flat YoY across Europe.

However, declines were seen in December in both Turkey and the Netherlands. Turkey experienced the most significant reduction in used sales volumes for December, down 25.7% against the previous year.  Sales in the Netherlands were down 4.7% fall – the third consecutive month of decline following a 3.5% and 1.4% YoY fall in November and October. However, both Turkey (17.5%) and the Netherlands (1.5%) sales volumes for the year were up compared to 2019.

Indicata also reported that stock levels varied greatly in 2020.

Year-end stock levels were on a par with the start of 2020 despite some vast regional fluctuations, most notably Turkey (+56.1%) and Poland (-16.2%), while average stock turn for all powertrains remained higher in December 2020 compared to the same month the previous year. Stock turn remained faster for diesel and petrol vehicles than alternative powertrains.

Andy Shields, Indicata’s global business unit director, said: “Some dealers are starting to take pricing action and with coronavirus still with us dealers are having to rethink their operating model by watching the market days’ supply (stock turn) for various ages and powertrains and take decisive pricing action.”

To download the December Market Watch report, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news - or gossip.