On reflection, not all of the news in the past 18 months was bad – at least not for everyone and everything. Uncovered by data-crunching by Sophus3 and IHS Automotive, here are positives that emerged.

* There’s a good chance that historians will determine the pandemic as the catalyst for the EV movement. EV sales across the EU14, EFTA and UK rose 106% year on year, while alternatively fuelled vehicles (chiefly plug-in hybrids but also those that use CNG, biogas and hydrogen) rose 60%.

* Across Europe’s five biggest markets (Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Spain), Tesla was one of just three marques to record an annual rise in sales, largely thanks to the Model 3, ending the year with registrations up 51%. Only MG (+46%) and Ferrari (+4%) also recorded uplifts.

* The old adage that the rich get richer rings true, according to data showing that the only market sector to grow in 2020 was upper-end vehicles. Registrations rose 8% across the big five European markets, albeit doing almost nothing to stem the tide of every other sector being down 17-43%.

* Maybe it’s because they remain the mainstream’s most aspirational car type, but web searches for SUVs increased in 2020, taking a staggering 45% of all model pages viewed. Views also rose for city cars (likely driven by people wanting to avoid public transport), mid-size cars and MPVs.

* Of the top 20 brands analysed, Audi alone held its nerve to eclipse its 2019 advertising spend. Across Europe, it was estimated to have spent £218 million, up 8% , with major campaigns supporting the launch of the new A3 and the E-tron GT. Only Renault (£291m) and Volkswagen (£235m) spent more overall.

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The Ford Puma was the most advertised car, with spending in Europe topping an estimated £171m. It was followed by the Renault Zoe (£83m), Seat Leon (£75m), Renault Captur (£69m) and Ford Kuga (£61m).

* With ‘staycations’ now our only option, campervans are selling out across the UK. One firm that builds a van described as being “sold in small numbers to a niche of enthusiasts” saw this turn into its second-most popular vehicle during the crisis.

* YouTube recorded 1.36bn views last year, up 20%. The most-viewed video posted by a European car brand was a French advert for the Volkswagen T-Cross. Autocar gained more than 35,000 subscribers, putting it on the cusp of 800,000.

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