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European auto market plunged more than 75 percent in April amid coronavirus pandemic

Workers wear protective masks at the Volkswagen assembly line after VW re-starts Europe's largest car factory following the coronavirus shutdown, in Wolfsburg, Germany, April 27, 2020.
Workers wear protective masks at the Volkswagen assembly line after VW re-starts Europe's largest car factory following the coronavirus shutdown, in Wolfsburg, Germany, April 27, 2020. © Swen Pfoertner, REUTERS

Europe's auto market plunged further in April, with sales down by 76.3 percent from the same month a year earlier, figures released Tuesday by a sector federation showed.

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New car registrations had already fallen by an annualised 55.1 percent in March, owing to the impact of the coronavirus, according to the European Automobile Manufacturer's Association (ACEA).

The numbers for April represented the first full month that restrictions to stem the spread of Covid-19 were in place, and saw "the strongest monthly drop since records began", an ACEA statement said.

Every EU nation suffered double-digit losses, but Italy and Spain were hit the hardest and posted drops of 97.6 percent and 96.5 percent respectively, it added.

Denmark and Sweden fared the best, but their markets were nonetheless off by more than a third, the data showed.

In terms of manufacturers, the FCA group that includes Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep and Alfa Romeo suffered the most, with sales that were 87.7 percent lower in April at 10,419 vehicles, ACEA said.

BMW, Mitsubishi and Volvo posted the smallest drops, but they were all almost two-thirds below their level of the previous year.

In France, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Monday said a package of measures is being prepared to shore up the country's automakers stung by the coronavirus crisis, including subsidies to encourage purchases of electric vehicles.

"I will announce a plan within two weeks... to relaunch car buying as well as the industry's transition to a more sustainable model," Le Maire told France Info radio.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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