2019 (Full Year) International: Worldwide Car Sales

In 2019, car sales worldwide were mostly weaker. Although new car sales increased in Brazil and Europe, the Japanese, Russian and US markets were weaker while the car market in China and India contracted sharply.

Rolls-Royces at Geneva Auto Salon 2019. Worldwide car sales were weaker in 2019 but Rolls-Royce cars sold in record numbers.

In 2019, global car sales were mostly weaker with worldwide car sales around 4% lower than a year ago. China remained by far the largest single-country car market in the world but sales were down by a tenth in 2019. The US market was down by 1.4% while new car sales in Europe increased by 1.2%. Car sales were sharply lower in India while the Japanese and Russian market remained weak. Car sales in Brazil increased by nearly 8% in 2019.

Annual Worldwide Car Sales (2013-2019)

Annual car sales in various major markets monitored by the VDA were as follows between 2013 and 2019:

Europe (EU+EFTA)15,805,80015,624,50015,631,70015,131,70014,201,90013,006,50012,308,200
*Light vehicles
Source: VDA

Passenger vehicle sales in the largest car markets in the world contracted by around 4% in 2019. Combined worldwide car sales of 65.5 million vehicles were the lowest number in four years. Despite weaker car sales in China the past two years, most of the 8 million increase in annual car sales in 2019 compared to 2013 accrued to the Chinese market.

Worldwide Car Sales in 2019 (Full Year)

Worldwide car sales in the largest passenger vehicle markets in the world were as follows in 2019:

Europe (EU+EFTA)15,805,80015,624,5001.2
*Light vehicles
Source: VDA

Weaker Car Sales in China in 2019 (January to December)

The Chinese new car market contracted by nearly a tenth in 2019. This was the second consecutive year of weaker car sales in China but also only the second year in a decade that car sales were weaker. The Chinese new car market in 2019 was at its lowest volumes since 2015.

At just over 21 million cars sold in 2019, the Chinese car market remained by far the largest in the world. The car market in China was more than 4 million cars bigger than the US market and over 5 million bigger than the European new car market. Seven times more cars were sold in China in 2019 than in India.

German luxury carmakers not only gained market share in China in 2019 but also increase sales volumes.

Flat Car Sales in the USA in 2019 (Full Year)

Light vehicle sales in the USA were slightly weaker in 2019 with the total market smaller than 17 million units for the first time since 2014. The overall market remained at a fairly high level.

The trend towards light trucks (including many SUVs and crossovers) continued in the US in 2019. While the sales of traditional passenger cars in the US contracted by 11%, light truck sales were up 3% to take a record 72% market share.

Stronger Car Sales in Europe in 2019 (Full Year)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries in 2019 increased by 1.2% to the highest level since 2007. It was also the fifth consecutive year of sales increases in Europe.

Most of the gains in the European new car market in 2019 accrued to the German market where sales were up by 5%. The British new car market contracted by 2.5% while car sales in France increased by 2%.

Weaker Car Sales in Japan in 2019 (Full Year)

New passenger vehicle registrations in Japan in 2019 contracted by 2% to 4.3 million cars – the lowest level in three years. A sales tax increase in October had the usual effect of buyers bringing purchases forward followed by weaker sales during the final quarter of the year. The effect should be less noticeable in 2020 provided the overall economy was not weakened.

Weak Car Sales in India in 2019 (Full Year)

In 2019, new car sales in India were down 12.7% – the weakest performance of all the major car markets in the world. The Indian new car market fell below 3 million vehicles for the first time in three years and to its lowest level since 2014.

During 2018, the Indian new car market was at times bigger than the German market but has now again fell behind. Car sales in China were seven times higher than in India in 2019.

Strong Car Sales in Brazil in 2019 (Full Year)

The Brazilian new light vehicle market was the only major car market in the world with strong growth in 2019. Car sales increased by 7.7% in 2019 for the third consecutive year of growth. However, the Brazilian new car market is still almost a million vehicles smaller than the high level of 2012.

Weaker Car Sales in Russia in 2019 (Full Year)

After two years of growth, the Russian new light vehicle market contracted in 2019 by 2%. Although Russian car sales in 2019 were at the second-highest level in five years, the Russian new car market was still almost a million vehicles smaller than in 2013.

German luxury car brands in 2019 mostly beat the general worldwide trend and increased market share and sales in many major markets in the world.

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.