European car giants this morning began to lay out of the full cost of the coronavirus pandemic on their performances in 2020.
Over the course of the year, vehicle sales plummeted as factories and showrooms were shuttered around the world.
French auto firm Renault said that worldwide sales fell 21.3 per cent last year as a result of shutdowns triggered by the disease.
It sold 2.9m vehicles in 2020, and was forced to cut 15,000 jobs in a bid to save around €2bn.
BMW also felt the pandemic’s sting, with sales down 8.3 per cent at the German giant. In total, the Munich-headquartered company sold 2,324,809 vehicles last year.
Despite a dire year for the industry, both firms said that the final quarter of the year had seen considerable improvement.
BMW board member Pieter Nota said: “We succeeded in concluding the year with a strong fourth quarter and once again we lead the premium segment worldwide.”
And Renault chief Luca de Meo commented: “We are starting 2021 with a higher level of orders than in 2019, a lower level of inventory and a higher price positioning across the entire range.”
The French firm is the midst of pulling back on the hugely aggressive strategy it embraced under disgraced former chief exec Carlos Ghosn.
Even before the pandemic struck the automaker was struggling, with particular questions over its alliance with Japanese firm Nissan.
The two have since reaffirmed their commitment to the partnership, which was brokered by Ghosn.
Volkswagen to recall 56,000 cars
It was also announced this morning that Volkswagen had recalled 56,000 Golf vehicles to fix software problems.
According to a spokesman, the recall applies to vehicles made up until July 2020.
The recall is not compulsory, but is a “voluntary service measure”.
Volkswagen had to postpone last year’s launch of the new Golf 8 series due to software issues.