2019 (Q1) International: Worldwide Car Sales

March 2019: Car sales increased in Russia and were flat in Brazil but weaker in Europe, the USA, Japan, India and especially in China.

Bentley Continental GT Convertible

January to March 2019: New passenger vehicle registrations during the first quarter of 2019 increased by 10% in Brazil but were lower in all other major regions of the world. New car sales were flat in Russia but down by around 2% in the USA , India and Japan. In the European Union new passenger vehicle registrations were down by 3.2% thus far in 2019 while the important Chinese new car market contracted by 14%. Just over a million fewer cars were sold in these major markets during the first quartr of 2019 compared to a year ago.

Worldwide Car Sales in 2019 (Q1)

New light and passenger vehicle registrations in various major markets monitored by the VDA were as follows in March 2019 and the first quarter of 2019:

RegionMarch 2019% ChangeQ1/2019Q1/2018% Change
Europe (EU+EFTA)1,770,800-3.64,146,2004,282,100-3.2
*Light vehicles
Source: VDA

Stronger Car Sales in Brazil in 2019 (Q1)

In March 2019, the Brazilian new car market was almost unchanged and only 0.2% weaker than in March 2018. As March 2019 had two working days fewer in Brazil than March 2018, the outlook for the Brazilian market remained positive.

During the first quarter of 2019, the Brazilian light vehicle market expanded by 10.1% – the only large new car market that grew during the first three months of the year.

Flat Car Sales in Russia in 2019 (Q1)

Russia was the only major new car market showing growth during March 2019 with new light vehicle sales increasing by 1.8%. However, thus far in 2019, the Russian new car market was flat with sales down by 0.3% – only 1,200 vehicles less than a year ago.

Weaker Car Sales in the USA in 2019 (Q1)

In March 2019, light vehicle sales in the USA were down 2,2% while sales contracted by 2% to just over four million cars for the first quarter of the year. As before, traditional passenger car sales were the weaker with sales down 7% while light trucks (including SUV and crossover) sales increased by 1%.

Weaker Car Sales in India in 2019 (Q1)

New passenger vehicle registrations in India contracted by 3% in March 2019 to drag the market down by 2% during the first quarter of 2019. This was the fifth consecutive contraction in the Indian new car market. The election cycle in India is also likely to weigh against a stronger market in the next few months.

Weaker Car Sales in Japan in 2019 (Q1)

After a solid start to the year, new passenger vehicle registrations in Japan contracted by 5.3% in March 2019 to just over half a million cars. For the first three months of 2019, new car sales in Japan were 2.1% weaker than during the first quarter of 2018.

Weaker Car Sales in Europe in 2019 (Q1)

In March 2019, new passenger vehicle registrations in the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries contracted by 3.6% to 1,770,800 cars. All five largest car markets contracted: Germany -1%, France -2%, Britain -3%, Spain -4% and Italy -10%. Somewhat worrying for April figures is that Easter weekend was partly in March in 2018 and that may put additional pressure on April 2019 numbers.

During the first three months of 2019, new car sales in Europe contracted by 3.2% to 4,146,200 cars.

Weak Car Sales in China in 2019 (Q1)

Car sales in China, the world’s largest single country market by far, contracted by another 7.3% in March 2019 – the ninth consecutive month of lower car sales.

However, the contraction in March was less severe than in January and February meaning the decline in new car sales during the first quarter of 2019 were down 13.8% to 5,164,100 – over 800,000 cars fewer than at the start of 2018.

Worldwide New Car Sales Statistics