Brussels - The EU passenger car market recorded a "dramatic drop" in registrations of new vehicles in March as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the latest data published by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).
Demand fell by more 55% to 567,308 units in March, compared to 1,264,569 units registered the year before, ACEA said 17 April.
The decline was linked to the lockdown measures introduced in most markets by mid-March, effectively closing a vast majority of European dealerships in the second half of the month.
All 27 EU markets contracted in March, but Italy took the biggest hit, with registrations falling by 85.4% to 28,326 new cars.
Demand also collapsed in France by 72.2% and Spain by 69.3% last month. Germany recorded a less extreme decrease compared to other key markets, posting a fall of 37.7% in new car registrations.
Over the first quarter, demand for new cars across the EU declined by 25.6%, with the impact of the corona crisis on March figures weighing heavily on the total.
All major EU markets posted significant losses with Italy posting the highest drop of 35.5%.
France, Spain and Germany also recorded double-digit declines of 34.1%, 31% and 20.3% respectively.