2022 (Q1): new car sales worldwide contracted with China the only major global growth market and new passenger vehicle registrations sharply down in Europe, the USA, Russia, Japan, and Brazil.
During the first quarter of 2022, new passenger vehicle registrations contracted in all major global car markets with the exception of China where sales were 9% higher than a year ago. China remained the largest single-country car market in the world with sales of nearly 5.5 million, followed by the USA with 3.3 million vehicles, and Europe with nearly 2.8 million cars. Negative effects on global car sales during the first three months of 2022 were mostly due to supply problems rather than a lack of demand: manufacturers struggled with supply bottlenecks for many components as well as continued lockdowns due to Corona that influenced global supply chains. Demand for new cars remained very high in many regions of the world with many manufacturers claiming full order books and buyers experiencing long delays in deliveries. The short-term outlook thus remains uncertain with supply issues likely to be the dominant determining factor in the number of cars registered worldwide in 2022 rather than a lack in demand.
Worldwide Car Sales in 2022 (January to March)
New light passenger vehicle sales in various regions of the world monitored by the VDA were as follows in the first quarter of 2022:
China — the World’s Largest Growing Car Market in 2022 (Q1)
During the first quarter of 2022, China was the only major car market in the world to expand compared to the first three months of 2021. New car sales in China increased by 8.6% to 5,455,400 vehicles.
As a result, China was not only the largest single-country car market in the world but also the only major car market to have recovered sales to higher than during the first quarter of 2019. However, car sales in China were slightly weaker in March 2022 with the outlook negative for the second quarter of the year.
India — Flat Car Sales in 2022 (Q1)
New car sales in India were flat during the first quarter of 2022. Car sales were only a moderately 1.4% weaker in the first three months of 2022.
Note: The VDA did not specify if a different data set is used to explain a contraction while other numbers indicate an increase in sales.
USA — Weak Car Sales in 2022(Q1)
New light-vehicle registrations in the US contracted by 15.8% during the first quarter of 2022 to less than 3.3 million vehicles compared to almost 3.9 million during the first quarter of 2021 and over 4 million cars during the first quarters of 2019 and 2018.
As before, traditional passenger car sales in the USA continued to contract sharper (-22%) than SUVs and light trucks (-14%). Sales in March 2022 were particularly weak with registrations down 22%.
Japan — Stronger Car Sales in 2022 (Q1)
New passenger vehicle registrations in Japan were 17% lower during the first three months of 2022 compared to 2021. Furthermore, new car sales in Japan fell below the psychological million car level for the first time in years.
Europe — Weak Car Sales in 2022 (Q1)
New car sales in the European Union, EFTA, and the UK contracted by 11% during the first quarter of 2021 to 2,753,300 cars. Car sales during the three months of 2021 and 2020 were just above three million vehicles while well over four million cars were registered in the first quarters of 2019 and 2018.
All major car markets in Europe registered weaker sales during the first quarter of 2022: the UK (-2%) and Germany (-5%) outperformed the broader market but sales were 12% weaker in Spain, 17% weaker in France, and 24% lower in Italy.
Russia — Lower Car Sales in 2022 (Q1)
New light-vehicle registrations in Russia were 29% weaker in the first quarter of the year than in 2021. Registrations contracted sharply since the start of the war in Ukraine with the outlook for the rest of the year very uncertain.
Brazil — Very Weak Car Market in 2022 (Q1)
The Brazilian new car market continued to shrink at the start of 2022 with sales down by 24.7% to only 375,500 cars — well below the half million cars recorded during the first quarters of recent years.