• Lockdowns impact West European sales in November, with north-south divide apparent globally
November was a slow month for vehicle markets in Europe as new population restrictions hit sales

November was a slow month for vehicle markets in Europe as new population restrictions hit sales

As anticipated, restrictions imposed on many European countries in November to curb rising coronavirus cases in the region brought down light vehicle sales in the month.

With the majority of West European countries now having reported sales the market looks to have declined by 12.7% to 1.09m, 160,000 fewer than the same month of 2019.

The weakest performance was in France, with sales there falling 22.9%. The UK was only narrowly above France in the pecking order with sales falling 22.4%. Once again, the UK market was protected from greater ignominy with strong LCV sales – up 8.8% YoY – masking to a degree the 27.4% fall in car sales. The French market also benefited from resilient LCV sales as car sales fell by 27%. This pattern has been seen elsewhere in Europe – LCVs have generally performed more strongly as online sales and local deliveries go from strength to strength during the pandemic.

Of the other big five markets both Italy and Germany outperformed the market. Sales in Germany fell by 2.4%, while in Italy a 5.4% fall in light vehicle sales was recorded. The remaining major market – Spain – saw sales plummet by 17.1%.

Outside of Western Europe, sales look to have been weak in North America, too. Sales there fell an estimated 15.3%, with all markets in the region suffering a decline in sales. The declines were led by Mexico, where sales fell 23.5% YoY, while the US market fell by 15.2% and Canada's by just under 9%.

Of the 21 major markets we keep a close eye on for our modelling – accounting for some 90% of global sales – a few could report a positive month. Outside of Russia all the markets to have reported gains in November lie in the southern hemisphere.

Argentina and Chile in South America both posted double-digit gains. In Asia, gains were more muted. Sales in India increased by some 3%, while in Japan YoY growth of just over 5% was recorded. At the time of writing major markets that have not yet reported include China, South Korea and Brazil.

Our latest estimate for global light vehicle sales in 2020 is for the market to finish at 74.8m, some 16% down on 2019 and quite a feat given the market was down 29.2% at the half-way stage after acute falls March through to May.

For 2021, we forecast sales will recover by just under 15% for a global market just shy of 86m.