2018 (January) International: Worldwide Car Sales

January 2018: new light passenger vehicle registrations increased in Europe, China, the USA, India, Brazil and Russia but car sales were weaker in Japan.

Lamborghini Aventador S

In January 2018, car sales increased in all major regions of the world except Japan and Britain. Light passenger vehicle sales expanded the fastest in Russia and Brazil but China and the European Union remained the largest new car markets in the world. Light vehicle sales in the USA increased in January 2018 but traditional passenger car sales were sharply down while light trucks and SUVs sold well. The Indian new car market exceeded the German market in size in January 2018.

Worldwide Car Sales in 2018 (January)

New light passenger vehicle registrations in various major car markets around the world monitored by the VDA were as follows in January 2018:

RegionJanuary 2018% Change
Europe (EU+EFTA)1,286,4006.8
*Light vehicles
Source: VDA

China – World’s Largest New Car Market in January 2018

China remained by far the world’s largest new car market in January 2018 with 2,420,500 cars sold in January 2018. This was an increase of 11.7% from January 2017.

The strong car sales increase in China was partly due to the Chinese New Year holidays falling in January last year rather than in February as in 2018. As a result, the February 2018 figure may well be weaker than a year ago.

Europe – Strong Car Sales in January 2018

Car sales in the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries increase by a strong 6.8% in January 2018 to 1,286,400 new passenger vehicle registrations. Sales in Europe were helped by an additional sales day in January 2018 compared to a year ago.

Car sales in January 2018 increased in Spain (20%), Germany (12%), Italy (3%) and France (2%) but were weaker in the UK (-6.3%). While Germany easily remained the largest single-country market in Europe, Italy, which often has a strong start to the year, moved ahead of Britain as the second largest car market in Europe.

USA – Strong SUV and Light Truck Sales in January 2018

In the USA, despite extreme weather in many part of the country, light vehicle sales increased by 1% to 1,150,100 vehicles. Passenger car sales were down 12% to 364,800 cars while light truck and SUV sales increased by 8% to 785,300 – the US market for light trucks are now more than double the size of the market for more regular passenger cars.

Japan – Weaker Car Sales in January 2018

In January 2018, new passenger vehicle registrations in Japan were slightly weaker with sales down 1.1% to 339,600 cars. January 2018 was the fourth consecutive month of weaker car sales in Japan – a downturn that followed on nearly a year of expanding car sales.

India – Strong Car Sales in January 2018

The Indian new car market expanded in January 2018 by 7.6% to 285,500 cars – the strongest January car sales in India ever and around 15,000 more than were sold in Germany. This is in line with the VDA’s prediction that the Indian car market will be larger than the German market for the first time in 2018.

Brazil – Strong Car Sales Growth in January 2018

Light truck sales in Brazil increased by more than a fifth to 175,900 vehicles during January 2018. January 2018 was the ninth consecutive month of increases in car sales in Brazil.

Russia – Very Strong Car Sales Growth in January 2018

Russia was by far the fastest growing major car market in the world in January 2018 when sales increased by nearly a third to 102,500 vehicles. January 2018 was the eleventh consecutive month of an increase in car sales in Russia and the eighth consecutive month of double-digit growth in Russian car sales.

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.