Automotive Industry in 2021 – Recovery or still in crisis mode?

Earlier, there was speculation that the automotive industry in 2021 would find it hard to recover from the effects of the pandemic. The entire world was feeling the heat, and we saw a blatant fall in the volume of sales as factories closed down, and businesses came to a halt. On the other hand, buyers were more concerned about their health and their loved ones. So, they saved money and decided not to spend it on luxury items such as vehicles. The downward spiral meant that almost all the car marques posted a low profit or, in some cases, a loss.

By the start of 2021, it was thought that we would be in the recovery phase. Even after being hit by wave after wave of the virus. Recent figures have suggested that the pandemic might not have had as high a negative impact as we thought.  The first half of 2021 is looking good, with the demand for cars increasing by 25.2% in Europe alone. The rest of the year promises to bring glad tidings.

The factories have now opened with precautions, and the workers are busy doing what they do best – produce cars. Let’s look at some of the players:

Performance of some Major Brands


The German marque, Porsche, has performed admirably in the first half of 2021. They sold 153,656 vehicles in the first six months, which is a 31% increase compared to the same period last year. What’s more impressive is that Porsche managed to outperform itself in 2021 by achieving more sales than it did in 2019.

Two years ago, the German automaker sold 133,484 vehicles, and they are in a much better position now, even while we are in a pandemic.


Although the sports-car brand is quite small with regard to sales volumes, let’s have a look who this niche is different: Lamborghini had a surprisingly successful 2020 season, with the company posting impressive figures in the second half of the year. Not only that, but 2020 turned out to be the company’s second-best year ever, in terms of sales. They intend to carry on the momentum into 2021, and it shows. So far, Lamborghini is having its best year in the history of the brand. They sold 4,852 cars between January and June, beating the previously held record of 4,553 units. Lamborghini might just smash their 2019 record and sell the highest number of cars in a calendar year in 2021.


Mercedes-Benz is doing quite well in 2021. The brand posted a 25.1% increase in sales worldwide compared to the same period last year. Currently, Mercedes’ hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are in high demand. With figures suggesting that the demand for such cars has increased four times.

Last year and in 2019, Mercedes-Benz sold a similar number of vehicles in the first half of the year. The performance in 2021 is better than it was in 2020 but still not on par with 2019. However, it’s expected that with a successful second half, the German company will post impressive sales figures, and they might surpass that of 2020 and perhaps that of 2019.


The French marque posted an 18.5% rise in sales figures from the same period last year. However, the performance isn’t impressive enough since the total sales were down by 24.2% compared to 2019. It would take some extra effort on the part of Renault to achieve something better next year. At least they are on the right path to success.

The Rest of the Pack

BMW posted an astounding 39.1% increase in sales year-on-year, and they nearly doubled their hybrid sales in Q2. The same can be said about General Motors (GM), which had an incredible Q2 of 2021 where they achieved a 40% increase in sales. Toyota did better as well, but not as much as it did in 2019.

Volkswagen, on the other hand, could not impress with its EV line-up, especially when the likes of Tesla got an amazing outcome in 2021. The American EV marque broke all previous records and delivered the highest number of vehicles in 2021. The sales in the first half are enough to come on par with the entire 2019 sales volume!

In the EV market, things are looking particularly good. The likes of Xpeng have posted record sales figures in Q1 and Q2. Nio, on the other hand, achieved more than a 100% increase in its year-on-year sales figures. So, the future is looking good.

The Rise of the EV Market

The electric and hybrid vehicle segment has been on the rise. There has been an uptick in activity, despite the pandemic, which has taken the global EV volume to an all-time high. We saw a nearly 40% increase in EV volume between 2019 and 2020. By the first half of 2021, it seems that the numbers will keep on increasing.

The Nordic countries of Sweden, Iceland, and Norway are leading the revolution, with other European countries trailing behind. The Chinese market isn’t too far, with over 1.2 million units in circulation. And the U.S is pretty stagnant with its approach.

All in all, it seems that with the pandemic subsiding, the factories opening, the labour work, and the global chip shortage diminishing, the automotive industry is well on its way to recovery. It won’t be too long before we see more cars on the road, and it certainly won’t be long before EVs have a larger market share.


Stefan is working in the Automotive Industry for 16 years now, currently as a Senior Manager at BearingPoint Management and Technology Consulting. He is experienced across different functions and processes and knows the OEMs' as well as the suppliers' business. Driving his first PHEV, he recently became an e-mobility enthusiast.

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