2017 (Jan & Feb) International: Worldwide Car Sales

February 2017: New car sales increased in India, China, Japan and Europe but contracted in the USA, Russia and Brazil. China is again the fastest growing car market in the world.

Bentley EXP12 Geneva 2017

New passenger vehicle registrations increased in the European Union, Japan, India and China in February 2017 while sales were down in the US, Russia and Brazil. During the first two months of 2017, car sales grew the fastest in India but the Chinese market expanded by a fifth in February and remained by far the largest single-country market in the world. Car sales remained weak in Russia and Brazil while the US market remained flat and slightly negative. In Japan, car sales increased for the fourth consecutive month in February while European new car sales remained positive but growing at a lower rate than in recent months.

Worldwide Car Sales in 2017 (January & February)

New passenger vehicle registrations in various major regions monitored by the VDA were as follows in February 2017:

Region Feb 2017 % Change Jan-Feb 2017 % Change
Europe (EU+EFTA) 1,114,400 2.1 2,317,700 6.1
Russia* 106,700 -4.1 184,600 -4.5
USA* 1,325,900 -1.1 2,463,500 -1.4
Japan 413,300 8.2 756,700 6.4
Brazil* 132,600 -6.8 276,400 -5.4
India 255,400 9.0 520,700 11.7
China 1,589,700 20.5 3,756,900 7.6
*Light vehicles
Source: VDA

Strong Car Sales in India in 2017

The Indian car market has been the strongest performer over the first two months of 2017 with sales up by 11.7% to 520,700 cars.

Indian car sales improved by 9% in February 2017 – only the Chinese market expanded faster.

Strong Car Sales in China in February 2017

After a slight contraction in January 2017, the Chinese new car market grew by a fifth in February 2017. The Chinese car market was influenced by most of the Chinese New Year’s holidays in 2017 falling in January.

During the first two months of 2017, the Chinese new car market thus expanded by 7.6% – a good start to the year but well below the 18% for the whole of 2016.

Weak Vehicle Sales in the USA in 2017

New light vehicle registrations in the USA contracted for the second consecutive month in February 2017. Passenger car sales were down by 13% to 484,300 cars while light vehicles (truck and SUVs) sales increased by 7% to 841,600 vehicles and a market share of 63.5% compared to 58.6% in February 2016.

During the first two months of 2017, light vehicle sales in the USA contracted by 1.4% to 2,463,500. However, strong economic data from the US hinted at the possibility of stronger growth later in the year.

Continued Growth in the European Car Market in 2017

The European new car market again expanded in February 2017 for the 40th month of year-on-year increases out of the last 42 months. New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union and EFTA countries increased by 2.1% to 1,114,400 cars in February 2017. The modest increase was expected, as the 2017 calendar favored January sales, but still came near the pre-crisis volume of 2008.

In February 2017, car sales in Germany were down 2.6%, in France down 2.9% while sales were mostly flat in Spain (0.2%) and the UK (-0.3%) and positive in Italy (6.2%). Over the first two months of 2017, car sales were positive in almost all European countries – only Ireland and Switzerland had weaker sales.

Continued Growth in Japanese Car Sales in 2017

New passenger vehicle registrations in Japan increased in February 2017 by a strong 8.2% to 413,300 cars. This was the fourth consecutive month of car sales growth in Japan.

Year-to-date 2017, the Japanese new car market grew by 6.4% to 756,700 cars. March figures will be closely watched, as the third month of the year is traditionally the most-important month for the Japanese car industry.

Further Weakness in the Russian Car Market in 2017

Light vehicle sales in Russia contracted by another 4.1% in February to 106,700 units. During the first two months of 2017, the Russian new car market contracted by 4.5% to 184,600 vehicles.

Continued Weakness in the Brazilian Car Market in 2017

The Brazilian new light vehicle market contracted by another 6.8% in February 2017 to only 132,600 vehicles. During the first two months of 2017, the Brazilian market shrank by 5.4% to 276,400 vehicles.