European used car sales fall by just 0.4% in 2020 after healthy December sales reports INDICATA

Written by Autorola in category 
January 24, 2021

The latest report highlights how despite the ‘havoc’ Coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns caused for the used car market throughout 2020 sales ended the year down just 0.4% compared to 2019.

Unseasonal December sales
December saw significant unseasonal increases in sales rising by 26.4% in Italy, 24.2% in Sweden and 21.2% in Portugal year-on-year (YOY). Spain too saw used car sales rise 13.7% in December (YoY) as did the UK with a 4.9% uplift (YoY).

The turnaround in fortunes for the used car market in December was driven by the popularity of the ‘typical’ franchise dealer used car stock of six-year-old cars and younger. This included a 172% rise in sales year-on-year for BEVs and a 111% increase in hybrid sales, while sales for petrol and diesel cars remained relatively flat YoY across Europe. Overall, this is a remarkable performance and shows just how resilient the used car market is.

Turkey and The Netherlands report December sales fall
Meanwhile, Turkey experienced the most significant reduction in used sales volumes for December, down 25.7% against the previous year. The Netherlands was the only other region to experience a decrease in sales during December with a 4.7% fall in sales (YoY) – the third consecutive month of decline following a 3.5% and 1.4% YoY fall in November and October.

Despite the December reductions, both Turkey (17.5%) and The Netherlands (1.5%) sales volumes for the year were up compared to 2019. Across the year, 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.

Typical dealer stock fuels strong December
Andy Shields, INDICATA’s global business unit director, said: “The November fall in used car sales impacted all ages of vehicles but the December rally was clearly around cars six years of age and younger, i.e typical dealer stock.

“Whilst young used car sales were down two per cent in December year-on-year this is much lower than we have seen for most of the year which would indicate some manufacturers were supporting some tactical sales in the last month of 2020.”

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 also remained strong for diesel and petrol vehicles than alternative powertrains.

Andy continued: “Some dealers are starting to take pricing action as Coronavirus is still with us. Dealers are having to rethink their operating model by carefully watching the market days’ supply (stock turn) for various ages and powertrains to avoid being stuck with aging and over-priced stock.”

To download the December Market Watch report, go to

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