2015 (January to May) International: Worldwide Car Sales

Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 concept at Geneva Auto Salon 2015May 2015: New passenger vehicle registrations increased in China, Europe, India and the US but car sales were weaker in Brazil, Japan and Russia. China remained the world’s largest single car market but growth in the much smaller Indian market was faster during May 2015. Slow growth in car sales in Europe were partly due to holidays while light truck sales contributed most to growth in the USA. In Russia and Brazil, new vehicle registrations remained very weak while the market contraction in Japan might be slowing.

Car Sales Worldwide in 2015 (January to May)

New light passenger vehicle registrations in various regions of the world in May 2015 were as follows according to car sales statistics released by the VDA:

Region May 2015 % Change Jan – May 2015 % Change
Europe (EU+EFTA) 1,152,000 1.4 6,000,400 6.7
Russia* 125,800 -37.6 641,900 -37.7
USA* 1,627,300 1.6 7,014,300 4.5
Japan 279,400 -8.2 1,886,800 -13.7
Brazil* 205,200 -26.3 1,067,100 -20.0
India 217,700 4.7 1,141,800 6.5
China 1,506,800 3.3 8,046,000 8.6
Source: VDA

Note: * US, Brazil and Russia include light vehicles (trucks)

Weak Car Sales in Europe in May 2015

New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries increased by only 1.4% in May 2015. This was the weakest monthly increase in car sales in Western Europe thus far in 2015.

The weak increase in car sales in Europe in May 2015 was largely due to two additional holidays in many European countries in May 2015 compared to May 2014. The effect of holidays was, as expected, large in Germany (-7%) and France (-3%). In the United Kingdom, new vehicle registrations were up 2% but strong growth in car sales was registered in both Italy (11%) and Spain (14%).

New car sales in Europe increased by 6.7% to just over 6 million cars sold during the first five months of 2015. China was the only major region with stronger growth.

In Russia, new light vehicle sales remained weak despite some government incentives. Car sales in Russia in May 2015 were down by 37.6% – only marginally better than the decline of 37.7% year to date.

Slower Growth in the Chinese Car Market in May 2015

In the world’s largest single car market , China, car sales increased by only 3.3% – the weakest growth thus far this year. Weak sales in May followed on a weak April 2015 when car sales increased by only 5.5%. After several years of double-digit growth, car sales in China increased by only 8.6% thus far this year.

However, China remained by far the largest single-country car market in the world. During the first five months of 2015, new passenger vehicle registrations in China amounted to just over 8 million cars – more than a million vehicles more than in the USA and over two million more than in the European Union.

Mixed Car Sales Results in Japan and India in May 2015

In Japan, new passenger vehicle registrations were down by 8.2% in May 2015 – the first time this year that the decline was slower than 10%. Year-on-year car sales comparisons in Japan at the start of the year has been affected by the relatively strong start to 2014 when buyers brought purchases forward to avoid a general increase in sales tax on April 1, 2014. Changes in the taxation of minicars from April 2015 also placed a damper on car sales in Japan.

The Indian car market continued to expand with the increase of 4.7% the strongest growth for May 2015 of any of the regions monitored by the VDA. Indian car sales increased by 6.5% during the first five months of 2015. Sales were aided by an increase in consumer confidence and lower interest rates.

Stronger Truck Sales in the USA in May 2015

New light vehicle registrations in the USA increased by 1.6% in May 2015 with the year-to-date growth of 4.5% resulting in just over 7 million vehicles sold.

Light truck and SUV sales again contributed most to the increase in registrations in the USA in May 2015. Truck sales were up 7% to 881,800 vehicles while passenger car sales contracted by 4% to 745,500 vehicles.

In Brazil, the weakness of the general economy continued to strongly impact on the vehicle market. Light vehicle sales were down by a quarter in May 2015 with the year-to-date sales down by a fifth. Only the Russian market registered a weaker performance.