2017 (January to April) International: Worldwide Car Sales

April 2017: new passenger vehicle registrations were up in India, Japan and Russia but car sales were lower in Europe, the USA, Brazil and China.

Hyundai FE Fuel Cell Concept at Geneva 2017

New car sales in April 2017 increased strongly in India (+15%), Japan (+10%) and Russia (+7%). As expected, the Easter holidays in April resulted in a contraction in Europe (-7%) and the USA (-5%). Car sales were also weaker in China (-2%) that remained easily the world’s largest single-country car market. In Brazil, sales of light vehicles were again weaker (-3%) after a positive March. During the first four months of 2017, only the US and Brazilian new light vehicle markets had weaker sales than in 2016.

Worldwide Car Sales in 2017 (Jan to April)

New light vehicle registrations in major regions in the world during April and the first four months of 2017 according to car sales statistics monitored by the VDA were as follows:

RegionApril 2017% ChangeJan-Apr 2017% Change
Europe (EU+EFTA)1,230,200-6.85,487,7004.5
*Light vehicles
Source: VDA

Strong Car Sales in India in April 2017

India was the fastest growing major car market in the world in April 2017 and during the first four months of 2017. In April 2017, new passenger vehicle registrations in India increased by 14.7% to 277,600 cars – only 20,000 fewer cars than the Japanese market during the same month.

Thus far in 2017, the Indian new car market expanded by 12% to 1,080,000 cars – the fastest growth rate of any major car market in the world.

Japan – Continued Growth in Car Sales in April 2017

New passenger vehicle registrations in Japan expanded for the sixth consecutive month in April 2017 when the market grew by 10.4% to 297,300 cars.

Year-to-date 2017 the Japanese new car market grew by 8.3% to 1,637,800 cars – only the Indian market expanded faster thus far in 2017.

Russia – Stronger Light Vehicle Sales in April 2017

New light vehicle sales in Russia increased by 6.9% in April 2017 – the second consecutive month of sales growth. After several years of declines, the Russian new light vehicle market grew by 2.6% thus far in 2017.

Europe – Weaker Sales in April 2017

New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries were 6.8% lower in April 2017 compared to a year ago. The contraction was largely expected, as the Easter holidays in April meant three working days fewer in many countries compared to April 2016. This also resulted in record sales in March 2017.

Of the five largest European new car markets, only Spain (+1%) recorded an increase in sales in April 2017 compared to April 2016. In Germany sales were down 8%, in Italy down 5% and in France down 6%. New passenger vehicle registrations in Britain were down a massive 19.8% – this decline was largely expected due to tax regime change that saw record March 2017 sales as buyers brought purchases forward.

Year-to-date 2017, the European new car market grew by 4.5% to 5,487,700 cars – a faster increase than both China and the USA. Thus far in 2017, the European car market was mostly bigger than the flat US market but still two million cars behind China.

USA – Further Weak Car Sales in April 2017

The US light vehicle market contracted by another 5% in April 2017 – partly due to the Easter holidays, although the effect is usually weaker in the US than in Europe. The trend towards light trucks and SUV continued – light truck sales were flat while traditional passenger car sales down by 12%.

During the first four months of 2017, the US new light vehicle market shrunk by 2.4% to 5,426,800 vehicles.

China – Weaker Car Sales in April 2017

The Chinese new car market contracted by 2.2% in April 2017 to 1,660,100 passenger vehicles. From January to April 2017, car sales increased by 3.7% to 7,445,000 cars to leave China still by far the largest single country car market in the world.

Brazil – Again Lower Car Sales in April 2017

After March 2017 was the first positive month for car sales in Brazil since December 2014, the new car market contracted again in April 2017. New light vehicle registrations in Brazil were down by 3.3% to 152,600 cars. The Easter vacations also influenced the Brazilian market. Thus far in 2017, new light vehicle sales in Brazil contracted by a more moderate 1.6% to 613,200 vehicles.

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.