Global auto sales up despite European fall

December 19, 2012

December 19, 2012

The global automotive industry is continuing to thrive on the back of booming vehicle production in North America in the first 11 months of 2012 and continued growth in the Chinese, India, and Russian markets. However, the austerity programmes currently underway in many European countries have seen car sales in this region slump to a 19 year low in November.


According to ACEA eleven month sales for the period January to November 2012 were down 7.2% to 11.255 million – the lowest figure for this period since 1993 (Fig. 1).

“The key in Europe is not how bad 2012 is but whether there can be a realistic hope that 2013 will improve,” stated Erich Hauser, a London-based analyst at Credit Suisse. “We see little reason to believe that EU auto volumes will grow next year, which means that the spread between EU-focused and export-oriented original equipment manufacturers will only continue to widen.” Four of Europe’s five biggest automotive markets shrank in November, with deliveries in Germany falling 3.5%. Germany accounts for 25% of the region’s total auto sales and production. Registrations dropped 19% in France, and 20% in Italy and Spain. Growth in November of 11% helped the UK overtake France to become the second-biggest European car market through the first 11 months of 2012. Total automotive industry volume, including light commercial vehicles, in Russia this year is expected to increase to 2.9 million units from 2.65 million vehicles last year.


Fig. 1 New passenger car sales in EU, January – November 2011/2012 (Courtesy ACEA)


North America

In North America vehicle production increased by 12.8% in November taking the total for the January to November 2012 period to 14,749,338 units, an increase of 18.8% over the same period last year. The USA has seen the biggest increase in car and light truck production rising by 20.9% to 9,367,351 units. Canada saw an 18% increase to 2,303,772 units whilst Mexico notched up 13.5% increase to 2,683,552 units in the period (Table 1). USA car and light vehicle sales are expected to reach 15.46 million in 2012.


Table 1 North America Vehicle Production Summary (Courtesy WardsAuto)  



China’s automobile sales and output will both exceed 19 million units this year, stated Miao Wei at the Ministry of Industry and Information, a jump from last year’s 14.5 million units China is likely to hit its target of exporting 1 million cars this year, having exported 760,000 in the first nine months of the year. According to statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) automobile production reached 17,482,900 units in the January to November 2012 period, an increase of 4.51% compared with the same period last year. Production of passenger cars increased by 7.3% to 14,081,300 units, whilst the output of commercial vehicle dropped by 5.6% to 3,401,600 units in the same period. CAAM also reported that Chinese motorcycle production reached 21,527,700 units in the period January to November 2012, a decrease 12.3% from a year earlier.


The cumulative vehicle production data for India for April-March 2012 showed production growth of 13.83% year-on-year. The industry produced 20,366,432 vehicles of which share of two wheelers, passenger vehicles, three wheelers and commercial vehicles were 76%, 15%, 4 %, and 4% respectively. Car sales in India fell 8.25% year on year in November 2012. However, the overall vehicle market, with utility vehicles added, grew 3.86% in November and for the April-November period, the cumulative passenger vehicle sales grew by an impressive 9.6%.


Car production in Japan fell by 12.4% in October to 792,166 units, the second straight monthly decline according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. The decline reflected the end of the governments subsidy programme for eco-friendly vehicles as well as the worsening Japanese economy which slipped back into recession in the 3rd quarter of 2012. However, vehicle production over the January to October period increased by 27.5% to 7,306,745 units compared with the same period in 2001 which was heavily impacted by the Japan earthquake in March of that year. There has also been a significant fall in sales of Japanese vehicles to China due to the dispute between the two countries over the Senkaku Islands. Japanese vehicle exports were down 18.5% in October 2012 to 384,774 units with exports to China down 68.5%, and direct exports to Europe down 40.3%.

South Korea

The South Korean automotive industry, currently the world’s fifth largest, experienced supplier problems in the third quarter, but bounced back to post a 3.7% increase in production in November 2012 to 444,049 units thereby establishing a new monthly record. However, January to November production decreased overall by 1.8% to 4,156,318 vehicles compared with the same period last year.


Vehicle production in Brazil increased 8.2% year-on-year in September 2012 to 282,540 units. However, over the first nine months of the year, production declined 5.7% y-o-y, to 2,462,873 units.


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December 19, 2012

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