The latest official figures show that Europe’s five largest new car markets each suffered significant drops in 2020. Sales were down 32 per cent in Spain, 29 per cent in the UK, 28 per cent in Italy, 25 per cent in France, and well as 19 per cent in Germany.
That drop in our nearest neighbouring market (the UK) is the lowest seen since 1992, 28 years. And it has had a significant impact on the UK economy – the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trader (SMMT) estimating the British exchequer lost £1.9 billion in receipts from new cars.
In contrast to Europe, US and Chinese new car sales were more resilient.
You could look at this and say that not good for Europe and as a country on the fringe of Europe, it certainly wasn’t good for Ireland short-term either, down by close to 25 per cent last year.
However, the thing about car sales is that they are usually not all lost, but rather postponed. In addition to the major health, financial, and mobility constraints associated with the Covid-19 Pandemic, we had the additional uncertainty that the Brexit cloud hanging over Europe.
The latter has now been largely resolved and while we are going through a very harsh third wave of the Pandemic, the arrival of multiple vaccines combined with strict lockdown from the start of the year, certainly gives me great optimism of a spring of hope and certainty returning to Europe. With that begins the recovery and all that comes with it.