Results for the first half of 2018 in the international automotive markets were mainly positive in all regions with the exception of Japan and Korea in Asia, and the UK and Italy in Europe. China, the USA, and Europe (EU28+EFTA) saw total vehicle sales increase to 28.8 million units in the first six months of 2018, an increase of 1 million compared to the same period in 2017. Russia, Brazil and India all recorded double-digit growth.
In Europe, 8.695 million cars were sold in the first half of 2018, representing year-on-year growth of 2.8%. Car and light vehicle production in Europe was up 4% to 10.277 million units in the same period. Marked growth in sales was achieved in France (+9%) and Spain (+8%), with Germany recording a 4% increase. The UK saw sales fall by 3% in the first half, and the Italian market experienced a 7% decline. Vehicles in Turkey were down 12% to 352,467, whilst Russian market continued its recovery with year-to-date sales reaching 849,200 vehicles – 18% above last year’s value. However, sales in Russia are still around 40% below the peak reached in 2012.
In the US, the light vehicle market (cars and light trucks) saw a 1.1% increase in sales in the first half of 2018 to 8.6 million units, whilst sales in Canada climbed by 0.3% year-on-year. US car sales were reported to be down 12% in the period whilst light trucks increased by 10%. Light vehicle sales are forecast to decline for the remainder of the year, but still come in slightly above 2 million and 17 million units sold in Canada and the USA, respectively. Amid growing uncertainty about tariffs on auto parts, materials and vehicles, production of cars and light vehicles reached 8.704 million units in North America in the first six months – a decline of 2.6% compared with the same period in 2017. Year-to-June 2018 car and light vehicle sales in Mexico showed an 8.4% fall to 743,051 units.
Total vehicle production in China increased by 4.2% to 14.05 million in the first half, while vehicle sales increased by 5.6% to 14.06 million. Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs) in China increased by 111.6% to 412,000. In the first six months of the year, India saw sales increase by 13% to just over 1.7 million units, and Japan reported that automotive sales failed to match last year’s level, reaching only 2.3 million cars (-2%). However, passenger car production in Japan for the five months up to May 2018 showed an increase of 1.3% to 3.478 million. Korea also reported a decline in domestic car sales to 785,000 (-3%) for the first six months, and car production declined by 7% to 2,162 million. Both Japan and Korea rely heavily on export markets for their vehicles.
Sales in the Brazilian light vehicle market reached 1.129 million in the first six months – an increase of 13.7%.