2013 January International Car Sales Worldwide

January 2013 saw a mix in new car sales: Europe and Japan struggled but passenger vehicle sales in China, Brazil and the USA were strongly up.

VW Santana (New) 2012
Volkswagen Santana – a VW Exclusively for the Chinese Market. © Volkswagen Media Services

2013 car sales got off to a mixed start in different parts of the world. New passenger vehicle registrations in January 2013 were sharply down in most of Europe (-8.5%) while Chinese (+59%) car sales continue to boom. The automobile market in the USA and Brazil also performed strongly with double-digit increases in car sales.

January 2013 Worldwide Car Sales Statistics

Car sales figures released by the German Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA) show a mixed picture in different parts of the world for the first month of 2013. Growth was strong in the largest two markets (China and the USA) while Europe and Japan were struggling.

According to the VDA, car sales in January 2013 were as follows:

RegionCar Sales January 2013% Change from January 2012
Europe (EU+EFTA)918,300-8.5
Source: VDA

Continued Strong Growth in Chinese Car Sales – January 2013

The Chinese car market expanded by 59% in January 2013 to over 1.5 million new passenger vehicle registrations. Even taking into consideration that the Chinese New Years’ holidays are in February this year, and not January as in 2012, does not deter from the fact that the Chinese car market is continuing to boom and a major driving force behind the profits of especially German carmakers.

The other two main Asian markets – Japan and India – both saw a contraction in January 2013. Sales in Japan were extraordinarily high a year ago making the 332,100 vehicles sold in January 2013 still better than the relative decline would indicate. In India, the market was down with the Indian car market now less than a sixth the size of the Chinese new passenger vehicle market.

Weakest January Ever for Car Sales in Europe

In Europe (EU + EFTA), the car market remains weak with the weakest January since at least 1990, when the current ACEA sales figures system was introduced. Car sales in Germany, Europe’s largest car market, were down -8.6% to 192,090 new passenger vehicle registrations. Other large European car markets also performed very weak: France (-15.1%), Italy (-17.6), and Spain (-9.6).

The only large West European car market with positive growth was Britain. New passenger vehicle registrations in the UK increased by 11.5% in January 2013.

Light vehicle sales in Russia, which are not included in ACEA figures for Europe, were also positive in January 2013. The Russian car market was about 20,000 units bigger than the British, which is the second largest after Germany in the EU.

Stronger Car Sales in the Americas in January 2013

Sales in the USA of light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) showed strong growth in January with monthly sales again over a million units. The US car market is again comfortably larger than the European Union’s.

Car sales in Brazil also boomed in January 2013. Brazil is not far off the Japanese car market size and well ahead of both India and Germany.

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About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in online writing. His best-selling cars website has been reporting car sales statistics since 2008 with classic car auction prices focusing on the most expensive automobiles sold at public auctions in the past decade. He also owns the travel websites European-Traveler.com and Lake Geneva Switzerland. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Finance from the University of London.