New car registrations in the European Union hit a record low for the month of January, according to industry data released today, as the sector continues to be hamstrung by a lack of semiconductors.

"With the ongoing semiconductor shortage still negatively affecting car sales across the region" the registration of new vehicles last month fell by 6% from January 2020, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said in a statement.

The 682,596 vehicles registered last month marks "a new historic low in EU car sales for the first month of the year" since the trade association began keeping records in 1990.

Following the strangling of sales in 2020 by pandemic restrictions closing dealerships, automakers found it hard to meet a rebound in consumer demand last year as semiconductor manufacturers could not supply enough of the chips critical to the operation of numerous systems in modern cars.

Automakers expect the shortage to continue this year.

Of the top EU markets, both Italy and France saw sales drops of nearly 20%, while Germany rose by 8.5% and Spain was broadly stable, the ACEA said.

European carmakers all suffered drops in sales, with Asian car makers all posting increases except for Japan's Nissan.