2014 (January to April) International: Worldwide Car Sales

In April 2014, car sales continue to increase in the world’s three largest vehicle markets: China, the USA and Europe. Vehicle registrations were down in Russia, India, Brazil and Japan.

Koenigsegg one:1 at Geneva 2014

April 2014 saw further growth in the largest vehicle markets in the world with China, the USA and Europe showing strong increases. The Chinese market grew the strongest in April 2014 but Japan leads in year-to-date growth. The USA light vehicle market expanded strongly in April after a slow start to the year while the European market grew for the eighth consecutive month. The Russian, Indian and Brazilian car markets contracted further during April 2014.

Worldwide Car Sales in 2014 (January to April)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the major car markets of the world as monitored by the VDA were as follows in April 2014:

Region  Jan-April 2014  % Change  April 2014  % Change
Europe (EU+EFTA)  4’483’100  7.1  1’129’800  4.2
Russia  829’000  -3.8  226’500  -7.6
USA  5’112’100  3.1  1’383’900  8.0
Japan  1’882’900  15.9  292’800  -5.1
Brazil  1’055’500  -4.5  280’100  -11.6
India  864’100  -7.5  188’500  -9.5
China  5’951’100  14.2  1’478’900  14.3
Source: VDA  4’980’500

* USA, Brazil and Russia include light vehicles (trucks). % Change refers to same period a year previously.

IHS Automotive estimates worldwide car sales year to date as 26,735,691 vehicles (+6.1%) with April 2014 sales 6,524,434 (+4.4%) cars.

Strong Growth in China and Japan in 2014 (January to April)

Japan, somewhat misleadingly, has shown the strongest market expansion of all major car markets thus far in 2014. The Japanese car market expanded by 16% during the first four months of 2014 but this phenomenal growth was largely due to car buyers bringing purchases forward in anticipation of an increase in sales taxes from April 1, 2014.

As expected, car sales in Japan contracted in April 2014 but the decline of 5.1% was probably smaller than previously feared.

The Chinese market continue to grow at a rate of just over 14% and should overtake Japan by the end of May as the fastest expanding major car market in the world. New passenger vehicle registrations in China has been consistently increasing by around 14% this year allowing the Chinese car market to extend its lead despite growth finally picking up in the USA.

Increased Car Sales in Europe in 2014 (January to April)

The European Union – the problem car market of recent years – saw growth for the eighth consecutive month. The EU car market grew by 4.2% in April 2014 with new passenger vehicle registrations up 7.1% year-to-date.

In April 2014, Germany was the only major European car market with negative numbers. The German market shrunk by 4% – the contraction is largely blamed on the timing of Easter compared to last year. The holiday period often has a stronger influence on the German market than on for example the British market where shopping continues and France, which has a shorter holiday weekend.

The British car market remains the driving force in Europe with sales up 8% in April 2014. France saw sales up 6% and Italy 2%. In Spain, the market increased by 29% – helped by continued fiscal incentives and, according to the VDA, large purchases by the rental car industry gearing up for a hot summer.

Increased Light Vehicle Sales in the USA in 2014 (Jan to April)

The USA is finally showing the growth in new light vehicle registrations that was expected this year. After a weak performance during the first two months of the year when bitter cold weather put a damper on the market, sales of light trucks and passenger vehicles (cars) increased in April 2014.

Light trucks remain the Americans’ vehicles of choice – light truck sales in April were at 725,900 units 13% higher than a year ago. Car sales in the USA had a first positive month this year when 657,900 new passenger cars were registered in April 2014 – up 3%.

Year-to-date, the US light vehicle market has grown by 3.1% to just over 5 million vehicles – 2.7 million light trucks (+9%) and 2.4 million cars (-2%).

Weaker Car Sales in Russia, Brazil and India

In other major world car markets, new passenger vehicle registrations were sharply down in April to further drag the year-to-date figures down. In India, car sales in April shrunk 9.5% with the first four months of 2014 seeing a 7.5% contraction in the car market. With elections in India continuing into May, a recovery in the market is not expected during the first half of the year.

Political uncertainty in Russia contributed to the car market declining by 7.6% in April 2014 and almost 4% year-to-date.

The Brazilian light vehicle market was also sharply down in April 2014 – 12% with the decline in the first four months of the year down 4.5% to just more than a million vehicles.

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