2023 (Q1): Worldwide new car sales increased in all major world markets except China with growth in passenger vehicle registrations the fastest in Europe.
During the first quarter of 2023, car sales in the largest markets in the world increased with the exception of China. Growth was the fastest in Europe but here, as in all other markets, sales in 2023 improved compared to very weak numbers at the start of 2022. As the strain on production eased with the increased availability of scarce components, car sales increased strongly but only India had higher sales than at the start of 2018 and 2019. China remained the largest new car market in 2023 followed by the USA and Europe.
Car Sales Worldwide in Major Countries and Markets in 2023 (Q1)
Worldwide car sales in major countries and markets in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the first three months of 2022 were as follows according to passenger vehicle registration data released by the VDA:
Car sales in all markets were helped by better availability of cars as the strains in supply chains are easing. Figures for 2023 follow on particularly low numbers at the start of 2022 when car components were in short supply due to a shortage in computer chips and also especially cables following the invasion of Ukraine.
Worldwide Car Sales in the First Quarters of 2018 to 2023
Although most major car markets in the world recovered strongly during the first three months of 2023, comparisons to the sales achieved during the first quarters of 2019 and 2018 confirmed that with the exception of India, the world’s largest new car markets have all contracted and may not necessarily recover to previous highs.
Europe — Fastest Growing Car Market in 2023 (Q1)
New passenger vehicle registrations in Europe (European Union, EFTA, and UK) increased by 17.5% to 3,236,000 cars during the first quarter of 2023. Although Europe was the fastest-growing large car market in the world at the start of the year, sales were still a million cars fewer than in the first quarter of 2018.
All five largest car markets in Europe grew during the first quarter of 2023: 45% in Spain, 26% in Italy, 18% in the UK, 15% in France, and 7% in Germany.
USA — High Market Share for SUVs in 2023 (Q1)
In the USA, new light vehicle sales increased by 8% to 3,563,300 vehicles — the fourth consecutive year with new car sales below four million units during the first quarter of the year. The trend towards light vehicles (including SUVs and light trucks) continued with the market share at a new high of 79%.
China — The Largest Single-Country New Car Market in the World in 2023 (Q1)
China remained by far the largest single-country market for new cars during the first quarter of 2023. However, China was the only major market with weaker sales thus far in 2023. Strong car sales in March (+23% and nearly two million vehicles) hint at a likely return to growth in coming months. Chinese brand BYD replaced long-term leader Volkswagen as the best-selling car marque in China thus far in 2023.
Japan — Strong Growth in Car Sales in 2023 (Q1)
New passenger vehicle registration in Japan increased by a strong 16.7% to 1,154,100 cars. However, sales in 2022 were particularly low and fell below a million units for the first quarter due to a lack of cars as supply shortages disrupted production.
Brazil — Strong Recovery in Vehicle Sales in 2023 (Q1)
Sales of light vehicles in Brazil increased by a strong 16.4% to 436,900 units. However, sales were particularly weak at the start of 2022 and numbers are still well below those of previous years. In March, sales increased by a strong 38% — the highest of any major market.
India — Continued Strong Car Sales in 2023 (Q1)
The Indian new car market continued to expand during the first quarter of 2023 with sales up 10.6% to 1,018,400 cars. India was the only major market with car sales currently higher than in the first quarters of 2019 and 2018.