The automotive industries in the main global regions showed significant variations in performance in 2018, with growth coming to a halt in Europe and North America, and China experiencing a slowdown in vehicle production and sales.
According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, total automobile production totalled 27,809 million units (down 4.2% on 2017) with sales of all vehicles falling to 28,081 million units (-2.8%). Passenger car sales in China declined by 3.8% in 2018 to 23.256 million units. The main factor behind the decline was said to be the trade conflict with the USA. However, new energy vehicles (NEVs) continued to achieve rapid growth in China in 2018, with production of 1.27 million units – an increase of 60% year-on-year.
Korea saw a 2.1% decline in light vehicle production in 2018 to 4.02 million units, whilst Japan vehicle production decreased by 0.5% year-on-year to 9.234 million units, of which 4.4 million were for domestic sales and the balance exported. India in contrast saw total sales for vehicles increase by 5% in 2018 with 3.4 million units sold.
In Europe (EU + EFTA) a total of 15.6 million passenger cars were registered in 2018 which equalled the total registered in the previous year. There were increases in some of the high volume sales countries – France (+3%), Spain (+7%) – with Germany matching its 2017 levels but Italy down 3% and the UK down 7%. European Union car and light vehicle production was almost unchanged compared with 2017 at 18.906 million units.
Russia continues to defy market trends and continued its recovery in 2018 with car sales up 13% to 1.8 million units. Turkey’s car market slumped by a further 38% in 2018 to 641,541 units and total vehicle production was down 8.5% to 1.550 million units.
In North America the US market remained flat at 17.2 million vehicle sales. Passenger car sales slumped 13% whilst the light truck segment added 8%. Canada recorded its first drop in vehicle sales in nearly a decade with a drop of 1.9% to 2.03 million units. Mexico light vehicles sales dropped by 7% to 1.421 million units in 2018. Total car and light truck production in NAFTA dropped from 17.02 million in 2017 to 16.98 million units last year.
The Brazilian market for light vehicles continues to rebound with light vehicle (including cars) sales rising by 14% to nearly 2.5 million units in 2018. Production of all vehicle types in Brazil reached 2.880 million in 2018 – an increase of 6.7% compared with the same period in 2017.