2015 (Jan & Feb) International: Worldwide Car Sales

Bugatti La Finale at the Geneva Auto Sho 2014February 2015: New vehicle registrations increased in Europe, China and the USA but car sales were sharply down in Japan, Brazil and especially Russia. Despite growth in all three largest regions, the number of cars sold during the first two months of 2015 was only around 15,000 more than a year ago. The outlook in the larger markets are considerably better than in Russia, Brazil and Japan were car sales are likely to continue to contract in coming months.

Worldwide Car Sales in 2015 (January & February)

New passenger vehicle registrations in various major markets of the world monitored by the VDA were as follows in February 2015:

RegionFebruary 2015% ChangeJan & Feb 2015% Change
Europe (EU+EFTA)958,1007.01,986,8006.6
Source: VDA4,460,200

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

Strong Car Sales Growth in the European Union

In the European Union (EU), new passenger vehicle registrations increased in February 2015 by 7.3% – the 18th consecutive month of growth. All five largest European single-country car markets expanded in both January and February 2015. In February, double-digit growth was recorded in Spain (26.1%), Italy (13.2%) and the UK (12%) while Germany (6.6%) and France (4.5%) also saw solid growth in car sales.

Car Sales Slump in Russian in 2015 (Jan & Feb)

The pace of the contraction in the Russian light vehicle market is accelerating. Light vehicle sales in February 2015 were down by nearly 38% after contracting by a quarter in January. Year-to-date 2015, the Russian car market is down by nearly a third.

The Russian market is hampered by political and economic uncertainty with a weakening currency causing major price uncertainty for both buyers and sellers.

Strong Car Sales Growth in China in 2015 (Jan & Feb)

China remained the world’s largest single car market in both February and January 2015. Although the growth in new car sales in China remained faster than in other regions, it was back to single digits in February 2015.

New passenger vehicle registrations in China in February 2015 grew by 8% to nearly 1.3 million cars. During the first two months of 2015, the Chinese car market expanded by 11% to 3.2 million cars.

Solid Growth in Truck Sales in the USA in 2015 (Jan & Feb)

The American light vehicle market expanded by 5.4% to 1,252,500 vehicles sales in February 2015. Passenger car sales were down by around a percentage point to 557,500 cars but truck sales increased by 11% to 694,900 trucks and SUVs.

Year-to-date 2015, light vehicle sales in the USA have increased by a strong 9% to 2.4 million vehicles. Car sales expanded by 3% to 1.1 cars while trucks sales grew by 15% to 1.3 vehicles.

Strong consumer confidence, an expanding economy and continued low fuel prices should encourage further growth in car sales in the US in coming months.

Mixed Car Sales in Mid-Size Markets in 2015 (Jan & Feb)

In other large markets, results were mixed with car sales decreasing strongly in Japan and Brazil but growing in India.

In Japan, new passenger vehicle registrations were down by 16% in February 2015 and down 18% year-to-date. The strong contraction is largely due to the first quarter of 2014 being particularly strong, as car buyers brought purchases forward to avoid a tax increase on April 1, 2014. Compared to 2013, car sales in Japan were around 12,000 cars higher during the first two months of 2015.

Light vehicle sales in Brazil were sharply down during the first two months of 2015 – down 27% in February after a contraction of 22.5% in January. Economic uncertainty in Brazil bode ill for car sales in coming months.

In India, the car market continued to expand with sales growing by 6.2% in February after a moderate 3.2% expansion in January 2015. In February 2015, the Indian car market became bigger than the Brazilian light vehicle market by 50,000 units – a year ago, the Brazilian market was 30,000 cars bigger than the Indian market.

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.