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Update on Global Passenger Car Landscape 2015: Full-Year Sales of cars in the World’s 10 Largest Markets


Aggregated full-year 2015 car sales in Top-10 grow slightly in 2015 but global rankings change

Passenger car sales in the world’s 10 largest car markets, who’s aggregated (full-year) sales accounted for 77.8% of 2014 global car sales, amounted to 59.29 million in 2015, up 1.4% from 2014 (58.49 million).

Even though the status of global car sales, here represented by the 10 largest car markets, is relatively stable comparing to 2014, a significant change in the global ranking in terms of P.C sales has occurred.

Recovery of major Western European car markets, combined with the continuous slowdown of Russia and Brazil, resulted in the latter losing 3 positions each in global ranking by car sales; Brazil from 4th in 2014, to 7th in 2015 and Russia from 7th in 2014 to 10th in 2015.

On the contrary, Germany and India climbed one spot each whereas the UK and France two spots each, now 6th and 8th respectively.

Top-10 car sales grew just 1.4% in 2015 despite growth in 8 out of 10 car markets

Eight out of the ten key car markets recorded considerable growth in 2015 over the year before.

Sales in China experienced the largest unit increase (+1,439,473) among all the examined markets during this 12 month period, followed by Western Europe which gained almost 1.2ml sales from 2014 respectively.

However, the severe downturn of car sales in Russia (-35.7% year-on year, or 890,188 units less than 2014), Japan (-10.3% y-y, -483,700), and Brazil (-25.6%, -852,950) respectively did not allow the combined sales in Top-10 car markets to grow more than 799,241 unit sales from 2014.

Reverse growth trends for Asia’s leaders

Car sales in China amounted to 21.15 million as the world’s largest car market continued to expand in 2015, but at a lower rate of 7.3% over 2014. SUVs and MPVs recorded strong growth of 52.4% and 10.1% year-on-year respectively demonstrating a consumer preference shift away from sedans, the prevailing segment.

Furthermore, the government’s decision (Oct’15) to halve taxes for the purchase of cars with 1.6 litre engines or smaller until the end of 2016 boosted growth of 10.38% in these types of cars; now they account for 68.6% of total sales of passenger cars.

On the contrary, in Japan, car sales dropped by 10.3% in 2015 comparing to 2014 following a moderate recovery of the domestic economy and an increase in the mini-vehicle tax in April 2015 (Apr 2014 saw also a hike in national consumption tax). All car segments experienced declining sales; Standard (-5.8% y-y), Small (-5.1%), and Mini cars (-17.8%) respectively. As a result, the Japanese market returned to the 2010 sales’ levels.

NAFTA grows but Brazil shrinks

Moderate economic growth and low fuel prices enabled the U.S car market to achieve the 6th consecutive year of growth as sales of Light Vehicles grew by 5.7% in 2015 comparing to 2014. Demand was driven by soaring sales of Crossovers (+18.5% y-y) and SUVs (+10.7% y-y).

In Brazil, the combination of weak economic activity, high inflation and interest rates have damaged consumers’ confidence. Consequently, domestic car sales contracted by 25.6% in 2015 comparing to the year before.

Recovery of the Western Europe compensated for falling sales in Russia

The recovery of the Western Europe car market continued in 2015 (9.2% y-y) driven by improving economic conditions and credit availability.

In the 5 largest Western European car markets by car sales, which collectively accounted for 73.0% of 2015 sales, Germany (+5.6% y-y) and France (+6.8%, y-y) continued to grow even faster than in 2014. The biggest winner was Spain which, after the second consecutive year of double-digit growth, returned very close to the 2008 levels.

The booming sales in the UK combined with shrinking sales in Russia and Brazil have resulted in the UK claiming the 6th spot in the 2015 global car sales’ ranking.

Finally, low oil prices and the effect of the economic sanctions in the Russian economy have adversely affected the domestic car market. Thus, sales of Light Vehicles were down 35.7% in 2015 comparing to 2014.

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© Auto2x 2016. All rights reserved. All fact and figures are for information purposes only and are believed to be accurate at the time of publication.

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