2016 (Full Year) International: Worldwide Car Sales

Arash at Geneva Auto Salon 2016December 2016: Car sales increased in Europe, the USA, China and Japan but were lower in Russia, Brazil and India. In China, December 2016 new passenger vehicle registrations reached a new monthly high of 2.6 million cars. For the full calendar year 2016, car sales increased strongly in China, India and Europe, were slightly higher in the USA, and weaker in Japan, Russia and Brazil.

Worldwide Car Sales in 2016 (January to December)

Car sales in major regions of the world as monitored by the VDA were as follows in December 2016 and full year 2016:

RegionDecember 2016% ChangeJan – Dec 2016% Change
Europe (EU+EFTA)1,193,3003.215,131,7006.5
*Light vehicles
Source: VDA

Worldwide Car Sales by Year – 2013 to 2016

Car sales developed as follows in recent years:

Europe (EU+EFTA)15,131,70014,201,90013,006,50012,308,200
*Light vehicles
Source: VDA

China – The World’s Largest and Fastest Growing Car Market

In December and full year 2016, China remained the world’s largest and fastest growing single country car market. In December 2016, car sales in China reached a new monthly high of 2,610,000 cars – an increase of 10.7%. This impressive number is largely credited to purchases being brought forward due to a planned increase in taxes on smaller-engined cars from January 2017.

In 2016, the Chinese new car market grew by 18% to a new record 23,693,400 vehicles – the second consecutive year that new passenger vehicle registrations in China exceeded 20 million cars. The Chinese new car market grew from 16.3 million cars in 2013 to 23.7 million in 2016 – an increase of 45% in four years.

German luxury car manufacturers enjoyed high sales in China in 2016.

Europe – Continued Expansion of the New Car Market in 2016

In December 2016, new passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries increased by 3.2% to 1,193,300 cars – the best car sales in a December on record. The European car market expanded for 38 of the last 40 months.

In 2016, the European new car market grew by 6.5% to 15,131,700 cars – the best annual figure since 2007 and the first time since then that the market exceeded 15 million units in a year. With the exception of The Netherlands and Switzerland, all countries in the EU and EFTA had higher car sales in 2016.

USA – Record Light Vehicle Sales in 2016

The US new light vehicle market grew by only 0.4% in 2016 but reached a new annual high of 17,465,000. In December 2016, light vehicle sales in the USA grew by 3% to 1,679,500 units.

The trend towards SUVs and trucks in the USA strengthened. Such light vehicle sales increased in 2016 by 7% to 10.6 million vehicles. Regular passenger car sales contracted by 9%.

Japan – Weaker Car Sales in 2016

New passenger vehicle registrations in Japan in 2016 contracted by 1.6% to 4,146,500 cars. The Japanese car market had its ups and downs in 2016 with the year ending with a high 8.1% increase to 332,800 cars sold in December 2016.

India – Stronger Car Sales in 2016

The Indian new car market expanded by 7% in 2016 to 2,966,600 cars – just shy of the 3 million mark. The Indian car market has been growing steadily in recent years.

In December 2016, the Indian market had its first negative month since mid-2015. The market was affected by the spillover effect of the introduction of new bank notes and the outlook for the Indian new car market remains positive.

Russia – Weaker Vehicle Sales in 2016

The Russian new light vehicle market contracted mildly in December 2016 by 1% to 145,000 units. In 2016, vehicle sales in Russia were down by 11% to 1,425,000 vehicles – almost half the size of the Russian car market in 2013.

Brazil – Weak Car Sales in 2016

The contraction of the Brazilian new light vehicle market continued in December 2016 with the market shrinking by another 10% to 199,200 vehicles. In 2016, light vehicle sales in Brazil were down by a fifth to just less than two million vehicles. The Brazilian new light vehicle market contracted by 44% since 2013.

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.