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Automotive year 2015: Western Europe continues its dynamism

Berlin, 15 January 2016

International passenger car markets – China breaks through 20 million mark – US shows strong result

The automotive year 2015 brought new records in both the US and China, while Western Europe also showed a strong increase and achieved its best result for five years. These three automotive markets again grew markedly in December. By contrast, double-digit falls were seen in Russia and Brazil, and Japan’s showing was also weak.

In Western Europe, new registrations grew by 15 percent in December to 1.1 million passenger cars. All five large markets expanded. Sales again showed double-digit growth in Spain (+21 percent), Italy (+19 percent) and France (+12 percent), while Germany and the United Kingdom each achieved a rise of 8 percent. However, December 2015 had two more working days than the same month in 2014.

The smaller Western European passenger car markets also enjoyed keen growth at the end of the year. In the Netherlands new registrations almost doubled (+91 percent), as tax incentives for company cars will be reduced this year. Growth of one fifth or more was seen in Sweden (+24 percent), Belgium (+21 percent) and Denmark (+20 percent). In December Portugal’s sales volume expanded by 10 percent.

Over 2015 as a whole, the Western European market totaled 13.2 million newly registered passenger cars, which was an increase of 9 percent.

Demand in the new EU Member States rose by one quarter (+25 percent) in December, reaching 93,200 passenger cars. In the year just ended, new registrations exceeded the one million mark for the first time in six years (+12 percent). The fastest growth over the entire year among the larger Central and Eastern European markets occurred in the Czech Republic, with a rise of 20 percent (230,900 cars).

The US market for light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) grew by 9 percent last month to 1.6 million units. Over 2015 as a whole, the market achieved a new record of 17.4 million light vehicles (+6 percent). Here nearly 9.9 million units were sold, or 13 percent more light trucks than in the previous year. The passenger car segment, on the other hand, contracted by 2 percent to 7.5 million units. This means that the trend toward light trucks is continuing.

The Chinese passenger car market showed clear growth again in December. Its sales volume came to just over 2.3 million vehicles – a rise of 19 percent as compared with the previous year. The high growth rate seems to result in particular from the tax breaks introduced in October on passenger cars with an engine of up to 1.6 liters. Total passenger car sales for 2015 climbed by 9 percent in China to a good 20 million units.

In Japan, December new registrations of passenger cars fell by 15 percent to 307,900 units. The market volume for the entire year slumped by 10 percent to 4.2 million new cars. One factor here was the increase in VAT that came into force just over a year ago.

India’s passenger car market expanded last month by more than 10 percent, to almost 231,000 new cars. The total figure for the year was stable: from January to December 2015, improved consumer confidence and lower interest rates brought about growth of nearly 8 percent. This raised the volume of the Indian passenger car market to around 2.8 million vehicles.

The Russian light vehicle market, in contrast, is still contracting. Sales of new vehicles lost almost half their volume in December (-46 percent), down to 147,000 units. For the year 2015 as a whole, light vehicle sales dropped to 1.6 million units (-36 percent). The market was therefore only just over its level during the crisis of 2009.

In Brazil, December registrations of new light vehicles fell by almost 38 percent to 220,800 units. The Brazilian economy is going through a deep recession. Last year this led to the lowest number of new registrations since 2007. From January to December 2015 a little less than 2.5 million new vehicles were registered (-26 percent).

New Passenger Car Registrations/Sales

  December 2015 January - December 2015
  Units Change 15/14 in % Units Change 15/14 in %
Europe (EU28+EFTA)* 1.156.500 15,9 14.202.000 9,2
  European Union (EU-28)* 1.109.900 16,6 13.713.500 9,3
  W. Europe (EU15+EFTA) 1.063.300 15,2 13.200.600 9,0
  New EU Countries (EU13)* 93.200 24,6 1.001.400 12,1
Russia** 147.000 -45,7 1.601.200 -35,7
USA** 1.632.700 9,0 17.386.300 5,8
Japan 307.900 -14,6 4.215.900 -10,3
Brazil** 220.800 -37,6 2.480.500 -25,6
India 231.000 10,5 2.772.700 7,9
China 2.347.600 19,0 20.047.200 9,1

* without Malta
** Light Vehicles

Eckehart Rotter
Eckehart Rotter Head of Department Press

Tel: +49 30 897842-120 Fax: +49 30 897842-603
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