In March 2020, the EU passenger car market recorded a significant drop (-55.1%) in registrations of new vehicles as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak according to the latest figures from ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

With containment / lockdown measures taking hold in most markets from around the middle of the month, the vast majority of European dealerships were closed during the second half of March. Consequently, demand across the region fell by more than half last month, dropping from 1,264,569 units registered in March 2019 to 567,308 units, ACEA says.

All 27 EU markets contracted in March, but Italy took the biggest hit, with registrations falling by 85.4% to 28,326 new cars (compared to 194,302 units in March 2019). Likewise, demand also collapsed in France (-72.2%) and Spain (-69.3%) last month. Germany recorded a less extreme drop than the other key markets, but registrations fell by 37.7% nevertheless. During the same period, the UK new car market experienced a similar decline, down by -44.4%.

From January to March 2020, demand for new cars in the European Union declined by 25.6%, with the impact of the corona crisis on March figures weighing heavily on the total. Each of the major EU markets posted significant losses so far in 2020: Italy -35.5%, France -34.1%, Spain -31% and Germany -20.3%.