2016 (January to July) International: Worldwide Car Sales

Koenigsegg One of 1 at Geneva 2016July 2016: Car sales were slightly down in the Europe Union but increased in the USA, India and China. Sales were lower in Japan, Russia, and Brazil. After 34 months of sales increases, July 2016 was the first year-on-year monthly decline in car sales in the European Union although the outlook remains positive. New vehicle registrations in China increased by nearly a third in July 2016 while India was up by 17% and the USA by 0.5%. In Japan, sales were slightly weaker but the sharp contraction in Russia and Brazil continued.

Worldwide Car Sales in 2016 (January to July)

New vehicle registrations in various major regions of the world monitored by the VDA were as follows in July 2016:

Region July 2016 % Change Jan – July 2016 % Change
Europe (EU+EFTA)** 1,160,000 -2.3 x x
Russia* 109,400 -16.6 781,600 -14.4
USA* 1,514,100 0.5 10,106,600 1.1
Japan 348,200 -2.2 2,480,800 -4.9
Brazil* 175,000 -20.3 1,127,300 -24.4
India 259,700 16.8 1,680,000 6.2
China 1,559,200 30.3 12,177,700 14.1

Note: *USA, Brazil and Russia include light vehicles (trucks). % Change refers to same period the previous year.
** JATO estimates

Weaker Car Sales in Europe in July 2016

July 2016 marked the first car sales contraction in the European Union and EFTA, after 34 months of continuous year-on-year monthly car sales growth. New passenger vehicle registrations in the EU were down by 2.3% to 1,160,000 cars.

Two fewer working days compared to July 2015 are largely blamed for the decline in car sales in Europe with the outlook for the year remaining largely positive following the best first half year in 2016 since 2008. July (and August) are traditionally low volume months for car sales in Europe.

Car sales in Germany were down by 4% and in France by 10%. The British market was flat while the Spanish market increased by 4% and the Italian market by 3%.

Fast Growth in the Chinese Car Market in July 2016

In July 2016, China – the world’s largest single-country car market – was again also the fastest growing. New passenger vehicle registrations in China increased by 30% to nearly 1.6 million cars. Although July 2015 was a particularly weak month for car sales, the Chinese market is clearly booming with year-to-date sales up by 14% to more than 12 million cars.

Slight Growth in the US Vehicle Market in July 2016

The US light vehicle market continued to slowly grow in July 2016. New vehicle registrations were up 0.5% for the month to 1,514,100 vehicles while the expansion thus far in 2016 was 1.1% to just more than 10 million vehicles.

As in recent months, the sales growth in the USA was mostly due to the increased popularity of light trucks and SUVs. Light truck sales increased by 8% to 925,100 vehicles in July 2016 while passenger car sales were down 9% to 589,000 cars. In July 2016, passenger cars had a market share of only 39% of the light vehicle market compared to 43% a year ago.

Strong Car Sales in India in July 2016

New car sales in India increased by a strong 17% in July 2016 to 260,000 vehicles. Thus far in 2016, the Indian car market has grown by 6.2% to nearly 1.7 million cars. However, the Indian new car market remained significantly smaller than that of neighboring China.

Weaker Car Sales in Japan in July 2016

New passenger vehicle registrations in Japan were down 2.2% in July 2016 – the third best month of the year so far. During the first seven months of 2016, the Japanese new car market contracted by nearly 5% to just below 2.5 million cars.

Further Weakness in the Russian Vehicle Market in July 2016

Light vehicle sales in Russia were down by another 17% in July 2016 to 109,400 vehicles – one of the weaker performances in recent months. During the first seven months of 2016, the Russian car market contracted by 14% to 781,600 vehicles.

Further Collapse in the Brazilian Vehicle Market in July 2016

Although there are some signs of an improvement in the Brazilian economy, none are yet noticeable in new car sales. In July 2016, light vehicle sales in Brazil were again down by a fifth to only 175,000 vehicles. The Brazilian new car market has shrunk by nearly a quarter thus far in 2016.

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.