Vehicle production in North America (USA, Canada and Mexico) is reported to have increased by 3% in the first four months of 2015, with Mexico showing the highest percentage gain of the three countries with output up 11% to 1.127 million units. US light vehicle production increased by 2.2% to reach 3.907 million units in the four month period with Canadian light vehicle production down by 5.5% to 714,069 units. Light vehicle sales in the USA increased by 5.4% to 5.385 million units in the first four months.
In Europe new car sales increased by 8.5% to 3.64 million units in the first quarter of 2015 with all major markets posting growth thanks to the continuing economic recovery in the European Union. Registrations in Spain increased by 32.2%, Italy by 13.5%, France by 6.9%, the UK by 6.8% and Germany by 6.4%.
German car production was 1.955 million units in the first four months of 2015, down by just 1% on the same period in 2014. Automotive forecaster LMC are expecting full year EU sales to increase by 6.6% to 12.9 million units which would be the highest figure since 2010, whilst IHS Automotive is more cautious forecasting 3% growth to 12.5 million units.
Russia, struggling with sanctions, low oil prices and a depreciating rouble, has seen car sales fall by 36.3% in the first quarter of 2015 to 383,691 units. There was a further decline in April which took car sales 41.5% lower in the first four months, according to the Association of European Businesses.
In China production and sales of automobiles were 8.280 million and 8.144 million units respectively in the January to April period, an increase of 4.1% and 2.8% year-on-year and indicating a marked slowdown of growth in this sector. Production of automobiles was down by 11% in April 2015 to 1.994 million units compared with the previous month, but up 0.6% year-on-year. China is today the world’s largest market with 18 million cars registered in 2014, or just over 25% of the global market.
Automobile production in Japan for the fiscal year April 2014 to March 2015 was recorded at 9.590 million units, a decrease of 3.2% on the previous fiscal year and the first decrease in two years. The export share of automobile production was recorded as 4,490 million units, down by 3.1%. South Korea is the world’s fifth largest producer of vehicles behind China, the USA, Japan and Germany.
In 2014 Korean vehicle production edged up by just 0.1% to around 4.52 million units of which two-thirds are exported. However, in the first quarter of 2015 domestic production and exports were each down 2.6% year-on-year.
Automobile production in Brazil is expected to fall to its lowest level since 2007 in 2015. Brazil’s automobile production fell by 15.3% in 2014 to 3.1 million units, and in the first quarter of 2015 sales dropped 17% to 674,422. Unlike many of the other automobile producing countries, Brazil is heavily reliant on its domestic market.