International passenger car markets – weak result in US with fewer trading days
Last month the major automobile markets Western Europe and China both showed keen double-digit growth. By contrast, sales in the US showed a year-on-year fall as May had two trading days less than it had last year. Russia and Brazil are still in reverse.
The ongoing economic recovery in Western European continues to bolster the passenger car markets. In May new registrations in Western Europe rose by 15 percent to exceed 1.2 million passenger cars. Among the top five markets, double-digit growth rates were seen in Italy (+27 percent), France (+22 percent), Spain (+21 percent) and Germany (+12 percent). In Italy and Spain in particular, the rental companies hugely expanded their vehicle fleets as the vacation season started and new registrations in this segment soared by around 40 percent in both countries. In the United Kingdom new passenger car registrations added 2 percent in May.
Double-figure growth was also recorded in Greece (+49 percent), Iceland (+30 percent), Denmark (+24 percent), Belgium (+21 percent), Sweden (+17 percent), Finland (+15 percent) and Portugal (+14 percent). Developments were positive on the passenger car markets in Austria (+7 percent), Norway (+7 percent) and the Netherlands (+5 percent). Year-on-year falls were seen only in Switzerland (-5 percent) and Ireland (-6 percent).
In the first five months of this year, registrations of new passenger cars in Western Europe rose by 9 percent to over 6.1 million units. Thanks to the strong growth, the accumulated market volume up to the end of May was only about 7 percent less than the average result from the pre-crisis years of 2000 to 2007.
“The figures for Western Europe show that in the crisis years, people had to put off buying a new car for a long time. Now the continent’s economic recovery is clear to everyone – and buying a car is a top priority again,” stressed Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).
May sales of passenger cars in the new EU Member States grew by 26 percent to 102,200 units. This year so far a total of 470,100 passenger cars have been newly registered (+17 percent). Growth of 20 percent or more was recorded during this period in Cyprus (+45 percent), Lithuania (+26 percent), Hungary (+22 percent), Latvia (+20 percent) and Slovakia (+20 percent).
The US market for light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) lost 6 percent in May, down to just over 1.5 million units. The effect was mostly due to May having two trading days less in 2016 than last year. Last month the daily selling rate, that is the number of vehicles sold per trading day, was 15 percent up on the previous month and 2 percent up on May last year. Furthermore, the current market environment is still positive: the labor market is healthy, gasoline prices are low, and the conditions for financing also remain favorable. This year so far (January to May), light vehicle sales amount to around 7.1 million, which is just over last year’s level (+1 percent).
In China, by contrast, the market picked up speed. Totaling a good 1.7 million units, passenger car sales climbed by nearly 15 percent in May. The halved rate of VAT introduced in October 2015 on vehicles with engines of up to 1.6 liters is obviously still boosting market demand. Since the beginning of this year new car sales have increased to around 8.9 million units (+10 percent).
In May the Japanese passenger car market again showed a year-on-year fall – following its first increase for 15 months in April. Demand for cars lost 1 percent, down to 275,500 units. Year-to-date sales now total 1.8 million new cars, which is a loss of a little over 5 percent.
Last month the Indian passenger car market remained on a stable course. Sales of new cars in May increased to 231,600 units (+6 percent). Since January the sales volume has added 5 percent to reach nearly 1.2 million passenger cars.
The Russian light vehicle market continued to contract in May. Sales of new vehicles lost over 14 percent and totaled 107,700 units. In the first five months of 2016 the Russian light vehicle market accumulated a total volume of 548,100 new vehicles (-15 percent).
In Brazil, almost 21 percent fewer passenger cars and light trucks were registered this May than in the same month in 2015. The absolute figure came to 162,300 units. The Brazilian economy is in a deep recession. New light vehicle registrations have fallen by 26 percent since the start of the year, down to 785,600 units.
|May 2016||January - May 2016|
|Units||Change 16/15 in %||Units||Change 16/15 in %|
|European Union (EU-28)*||1.288.200||16,0||6.383.300||9,9|
|W. Europe (EU15+EFTA)||1.228.400||14,7||6.113.300||9,2|
|New EU Countries (EU13)*||102.200||25,9||470.100||17,1|
* without Malta
** Light Vehicles