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FRANKFURT: Car sales in Germany tumbled to their lowest level since reunification in 2021, official figures published Wednesday showed, following a significant pandemic-related fall in 2020.

A total of 2.62 million vehicles were registered in Europe’s largest economy in 2021, according to the federal transport authority (KBA), 10.1 percent fewer than in the previous year at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The car market surprised everyone in 2021. Sadly, not in the positive sense,” the president of the VDIK car importers’ federation, Reinhard Zirpel, said in a statement.

Sales in the auto nation had already taken a significant knock in 2020, falling by 19 percent and at their lowest ebb since reunification in 1990, as the coronavirus forced large parts of the economy to go into hibernation.

The impact of health restrictions was felt into 2021, with the disruptions caused to global supply chain having a particularly swingeing impact on Germany’s flagship auto industry. Shortages of semiconductors, a key component in both conventional and electric vehicles, forced intermittent stops to production and meant the industry was “running with the handbrake on”, Zirpel said.

December provided no relief for the industry, with figures from the KBA showing year-on-year sales down by 26.9 percent, the sixth month in a row in which they fell. The mood in the industry continued to worsen, according to a survey by the Ifo institute think tank, as manufacturers faced up to continuing difficulties in the new year. “Expectations are also no longer so rosy,” Oliver Falck of the Ifo said, with carmakers increasingly looking abroad to boost production.

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