Geely's Volvo Cars announced record second half 2020 sales as fast-growing demand for electrified cars boosted the company's recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said it had "acted decisively" to mitigate the effect of the pandemic during the first half of the year, allowing it to quickly restart its operations after a brief shutdown and embark on a strong recovery, helped by fast-growing demand for its Recharge line.

The share of those models, fully electric or plug-in hybrids, more than doubled in 2020 compared with 2019. In Europe, their share was 29%, making Volvo the claimed leading brand in the region for chargeable cars. It was a claimed leading plug-in hybrid brand in the US.

In China and the US, its two largest individual markets, the company reported growing sales for the full year as it managed to more than recover a pandemic related sales drop in the first half during the second half of the year.

"We had a great second half of the year after a tough start, gaining market share in all our main sales regions," said Lex Kerssemakers, head of global commercial operations. "We aim to build on this positive trend in 2021 as we continue to roll out new electrified models and expand our online business."

While sales dropped by 21% in the first half of the year, the company resumed growth of recent years in the second half of 2020, reporting solid month on month growth from June. Sales rose by 7.4% to 391,751 cars in the second half of the year compared with the same period in 2019.

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Globally, Volvo Cars sold 661,713 cars in 2020, a decline of 6.2% compared to 2019. Although final numbers for the full year are yet to be confirmed, the company claimed to have outperformed its competitors and gained market share in all its main sales regions during the first 11 months of the year.

Sales rose by 7.5% in China in 2020 compared with 2019, to 166,617 cars. In the US, the company sold 110,129 cars, a 1.8% increase compared with the year before. In both markets, strong demand for the SUV line was responsible for the majority of sales volume.

In Europe, Volvo Cars saw strong demand for its Recharge cars in many key markets. A sluggish overall market, held down by pandemic related restrictions, meant that overall sales fell by 15.5% for the whole year.

The pandemic also accelerated the company's move towards online sales, which will continue to be a focus area in 2021. In 2020, Volvo Cars more than doubled its number of subscriptions sold online versus 2019. Conquest rates via this channel continued to be high, supporting the increase in market share.

During the year, the XC60 was the top-selling model, with total sales of 191,696 cars (2019: 204,965), followed by the XC40 with 185,406 (2019: 139,847) and the XC90 with 92,458 (2019: 100,729).