2021 (Half Year) International: Global Worldwide Car Sales

Half Year 2021: new car sales increased in all major global markets with growth particularly strong in Q2. China remained the largest car market followed by the USA and Europe.

Half Year 2021: new car sales increased in all major global markets with growth particularly strong in Q2. China remained the largest car market followed by the USA and Europe.

First Half Year 2021: car sales worldwide increased in all major markets of the world. In India, the market nearly doubled while sales were up by around a third in Russia, Brazil, and the USA, and up by a quarter in Europe and China. The Japanese market grew by a more modest 12%. Car sales were particularly strong during the second quarter of 2021 with China the only major global market contracting. However, car sales were still mostly lower than during the first semester of 2019 with the European market particularly weaker.

Latest Worldwide Car Sales: 2023Q1, Half Year, Q3, Full Year; 2022 — Q1, Full Year; 2021 — Q1, Half Year, Full Year; 2020 — Full Year

Worldwide Car Sales in 2021 (Half Year)

According to global car sales data released by the VDA for major international car markets, new car sales were as follows in Q2/2021 (April, May, June), and the first semesters of 2021, 2020, and 2019:

RegionQ2/2021% 20/21 (Q2)1-6/20211-6/2020% 20/211-6/2019% 19/21
Europe**3,405,70066.36,486,4005,101,70027.18,426,200-23.0
Russia483,400103.6870,000636,00036.9828,8005.0
USA*4,392,80049.68,294,1006,429,00029.38,412,900-1.4
Japan846,50024.92,043,4001,826,00011.92,285,700-10.6
Brazil*509,400120.51,007,900765,20031.71,251,800-19.5
India646,300320.41,495,100NA92.61,556,800-4.0
China4,809,000-1.29,830,0007,717,00027.39,932,900-1.0
*Light vehicles
**(EU+EFTA+UK)
Source: VDA

Higher Car Sales in China in 2021 (Half Year)

The Chinese new car market largely recovered from the effects of Covid on sales in 2020 with first semester sales in 2021 up 27% from a year ago and only 1% lower than in the first half of 2019.

However, in contrast to other major global new car markets, passenger car registrations in China were weaker during the second quarter of 2021 compared to a year ago. This slight contraction was largely expected as Chinese car sales recovered earlier than in other countries. Chinese car producers, like all manufacturers worldwide, also suffered from bottlenecks in the supplies of certain components such as microchips, which prevented many new models from reaching consumers.

China remained by far the largest single-country car market in the world. As a result, the 1% contraction compared to the first semester of 2019, represented over a million fewer cars sold thus far in 2021. Weakness in the Chinese new car market, also heavily influences foreign carmakers, including German premium brands, that relied heavily on China for profits needed to fund the change to electric power.

Strong Car Sales in the USA in 2021 (First Semester)

The US light vehicle market (cars and light trucks, including SUVs) expanded by nearly half during the second quarter of 2021 with sales up by 29% during the first six months of 2021. Despite continued restrictions due to COVID in some states, the US economy seemed to recover fast with the car market similarly growing strongly to supply pent-up demand. Total light-vehicle sales were only 1.4% weaker during the first half of 2021 compared to two years ago.

As before, the demand for traditional passenger cars in the US continued to slip compared to light trucks and SUVs. During the first six months of 2021, such car sales increased only 21% while light truck and SUV sales were up 32%.

Slow Recovery in Car Sales in Europe in 2021 (First Half)

Of the three largest car markets in the world, Europe (including the EU, EFTA, and the UK) struggled the most to recover from the effects of Covid. Although new passenger vehicle registration in Europe was up 66% in the second quarter of 2021, and up 27% in the first half of the year, sales were still nearly a quarter down on pre-Covid levels. The European new car market during the first half of 2021 was around two million vehicles smaller than during the first semester of 2019.

In the first half of 2021, the five largest car markets in Europe all expanded with Italy up 51%, the UK up 39%, and Spain up 34%. Growth was less exuberant in the two largest markets: car sales in France increased by 29% while the German market expanded by only 15%.

Growth in the Japanese Car Market in 2021 (Half Year)

New passenger vehicle registrations in Japan increased by 12% during the first six months of the year helped by a strong 25% increase during the second quarter. However, the Japanese market, which has been less affected than many other major countries by Covid, was still a tenth smaller than in 2019.

Very Strong Car Sales in India in 2021

Car sales in India nearly doubled during the first half of 2021 and increased by a phenomenal 320% during the second quarter of 2021. However, the Indian new car market was at a complete lockdown at times in 2020, which accounted for the high growth numbers. Sales were still 4% lower than at the start of 2019.

Increased Vehicle Sales in Brazil in 2021

The Brazilian new vehicle market continued to expand but with growth fairly unpredictable. Although sales increased by 120% during the second quarter of 2021, the increase was a more modest 32% during the first semester of 2021 as a whole. During the first six months of 2021, light vehicle sales in Brazil were still a fifth down on pre-Covid sales during the first half of 2019.

Russia — Car Market Expanding in 2021

The Russian new car market expanded by 37% during the first six months of 2021 with sales up 104% during the second quarter of 2021. Russia was the only market with sales up (+5%) during the first half of 2021 compared to the first six months of 2019.

Latest Worldwide Car Sales: 2023Q1, Half Year, Q3, Full Year; 2022 — Q1, Full Year; 2021 — Q1, Half Year, Full Year; 2020 — Full Year

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.