Global auto market climbs to over 65 million – Germany bolsters Western Europe
The global automobile market proved to be resilient in 2011. While the US, China, India and Russia recorded double-digit growth rates at times, the Western European passenger car market shrank slightly by 1 per cent to 12.8 million units. The Japanese passenger car market recovered faster than expected. "In 2011 the total world market for new cars expanded by 6 per cent to 65.4 million units. We also expect moderate growth for the current year. The German car manufacturers have gained market shares in Western Europe and Russia, as they have in the US, China, India, Japan and South Korea,” stressed Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).
In December 2011 the US market for light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) grew by 9 per cent to 1.24 million units. Over 2011 as a whole sales came to 12.7 million units, which was 10 per cent up on the value from last year. For the first time the German manufacturers sold more than 1 million light vehicles in the US, thus increasing their market share for the seventh year in succession, to 8.2 per cent.
The Chinese market is heading for normalisation following several years of strong growth. In December nearly 1.2 million passenger cars were sold – a rise of a good 6 per cent. The volume for the year as a whole amounted to 12.2 million passenger cars, i.e. 8 per cent above last year’s figure.
The Indian passenger car market ended the year with a good result. It totalled 207,300 passenger cars, almost 9 per cent more than one year ago. Despite a more restrictive monetary policy and higher fuel prices, the Indian car market expanded by 6 per cent over the year 2011 as a whole, to reach 2.5 million new registrations.
The Russian light vehicle market continued its dynamism in December with an increase of 23 per cent to 251,400 units. And throughout 2011 it showed excellent development – with a total rise of 39 per cent to nearly 2.7 million units. The German group brands pushed up their market share from 16.1 to 18 per cent, selling around half a million vehicles.
The brazilian market – where the German brands have a market share of more than one fifth – grew 3 per cent in 2011 to just over 3.4 million light vehicles. However, December sales were down by 9 per cent to 329,200 units.
The Western European passenger car market was, as expected, almost stable over 2011 as a whole, at more than 12.8 million new registrations (-1 per cent). In December, however, sales slumped by 4 per cent to 927,000 passenger cars. While the German market grew by 6 per cent to 244,500 units, sales figures from the other large Western European markets remained below the previous year’s values: France recorded a drop of nearly 18 per cent, Italy 15 per cent, and the UK and Spain 4 per cent. Some of the smaller EU Member States, on the other hand, recorded double-digit growth rates in December, for example Belgium (up by 67 per cent), the Netherlands (up by 53 per cent) and Greece (up by 50 per cent). However the Greek market collapsed by 31 per cent overall in 2011.
Whereas throughout last year passenger car sales in the new EU countries came to 760,700 units, which was only slightly below the value from the previous year, a fall of 23 per cent was recorded in December. In Poland the year ended with sales down by 35 per cent, contrasting with strong growth in the Baltic states: in December sales in Estonia grew by 59 per cent, in Latvia by 50 per cent, and in Lithuania by 21 per cent.
Double-digit growth rates were recorded for the third month in succession on the Japanese passenger car market. In December 2011 around 290,000 newly registered cars represented an increase of 21 per cent compared with the same month in 2010. This reduced the drop in sales for the whole year, which had been adversely affected by the natural disaster. Yet at 3.5 million vehicles, the annual volume was still 16 per cent down on the previous year.