New car registrations went up by 63 per cent in Europe last month versus March 2020 when the pandemic hit, according to latest data.
Automotive data expert Jato Dynamics’s figures for 26 markets show they rose from 842,094 units to 1,374,313, taking the first-quarter volume to 3,045,703 – an increase of one per cent.
However, it was still the lowest total volume of new car registrations for a first quarter since 1986 when pandemic-hit 2020 is left out.
Registrations also fell by 22 per cent last month versus March 2019 – and excluding last year it makes it the lowest March figure since 2013, when the total was 1,337,588 because of a worldwide financial crisis.
Jato said that despite signs of recovery at the moment, the industry still had several challenges, including the economic fallout of the pandemic, ongoing lockdown restrictions and lack of consumer confidence.
Felipe Munoz, global analyst at the company, said: ‘The European car market is still a way off from reaching pre-pandemic volumes, and governments must take further action to help boost sales and restore consumer confidence.’
The Volkswagen Golf reclaimed its position from the Peugeot 208 as the most-registered car at 26,265 units – up by 12 per cent versus March 2020.
The electrified versions helped with its growth, especially in Germany, where they comprised 36 per cent of the model’s volume.
The Golf outsold the 208 by 836 units, which was the first quarter’s top seller.
The Tesla Model 3, pictured, was fourth in the model rankings, confirming its position as the top-selling model in the European BEV rankings for both March and the first quarter.
It topped the BEV rankings in the UK, France, Norway, Italy, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Poland, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia and Germany.
EVs and SUVs continued to be the main drivers of growth, with EVs posting a record market share of 16 per cent compared with 9.7 per cent in March 2020 and just 3.4 per cent in March 2019.
SUV market share, meanwhile, has grown year on year from 37 per cent in March 2019 to 40 per cent in March 2020 and 45 per cent in March 2021 – most notably in Sweden, Norway, Slovenia and Hungary.
Munoz added: ‘The success of EVs and SUVs stand as a good indicator that consumer demand will soon be focused towards upcoming electric SUV models, which will be a key driver of growth for the industry.’
Diesel cars recorded their lowest market share to date, however, at just 24 per cent, and with the European Commission continuing to bring in tougher emissions rules, Jato says the shift from diesel and other high-emissions fuel types is likely to continue.