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Wissmann: 2016 was a good year for the international automotive markets

Berlin, 17 January 2017

International passenger car markets in 2016: new records in US and China – Western Europe still dynamic

The automotive year 2016 brought new records in the US and China, while Western Europe expanded strongly to reach its highest level since 2007. These three major automotive markets also continued growing in December.

In Western Europe, new registrations rose by 6 percent in 2016 to reach 14.0 million passenger cars. The top five markets all increased: Italy grew by 16 percent, Spain by 11 percent, France and Germany by 5 percent each, and the UK by 2 percent. Except for the Netherlands and Switzerland, all 18 Western European countries enjoyed growth in their automotive sectors. Western Europe as a whole added 2 percent in December, climbing to 1.1 million passenger cars.

In the new EU Member States, 1.2 million passenger cars were newly registered last year (+16 percent). Double-digit increases were recorded in the three largest individual markets – Poland (+17 percent), the Czech Republic (+12 percent) and Hungary (+25 percent).

The US market for light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) expanded by 3 percent to 1.7 million units in December. The market achieved a new record value of 17.5 million vehicles (+0.4 percent) for 2016 as a whole. Light trucks totaled almost 10.6 million units, a good 7 percent more than in the previous year. The passenger car segment, in contrast, contracted by around 9 percent. This shows that the shift to light trucks has continued.

The Chinese passenger car market also expanded last month. Sales rose by 11 percent to 2.6 million new vehicles. Never before have so many new vehicles been sold in a single month. One reason for the record volume is that the reduced rate of VAT on vehicles with small engines since October 2015 was increased again at the turn of the year, which boosted the December figures in anticipation. Total passenger car sales in China during 2016 rose by nearly 18 percent to 23.7 million units.

Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), summarized: “The three large markets – China, the US and Western Europe – have left their unmistakable mark on the automotive year 2016. In these regions alone, passenger car sales have increased by a total of 4.5 million new vehicles. We expect that in the current year the US market and Western Europe will be stable and China will continue to grow.”

The passenger car market in Japan added 8 percent in December, climbing to 332,800 units. Sales for 2016 as a whole just exceeded 4.1 million vehicles, ending almost 2 percent below the previous year’s result.

Passenger car sales in India fell last month for the first time since mid-2015. At 227,800 units, 1 percent fewer vehicles were sold. However the accumulated figure for 2016 was a welcome result: from January to December 2016, the market increased by 7 percent, which means that the Indian car market expanded to around 3.0 million vehicles.

Last month the Russian light vehicle market was unable to continue the positive development from November. December sales of new vehicles totaled 145,700 units, a year-on-year fall of 1 percent. The overall number of light vehicles sold in 2016 came to 1.4 million, which was a loss of 11 percent.

Brazil’s new light vehicle registrations lost nearly 10 percent, falling to 199,200 units in December. The Brazilian economy is still in deep recession. Last year this resulted in the lowest new registration figures since 2006: from January to December 2016, a total of 2.0 million new vehicles were registered (-20 percent).

New Passenger Car Registrations/Sales

  December 2016 January - December 2016
  Units Change 16/15 in % Units Change 16/15 in %
Europe (EU28+EFTA)* 1.193.300 3,2 15.131.700 6,5
  European Union (EU-28)* 1.143.700 3,0 14.641.400 6,8
  W. Europe (EU15+EFTA) 1.084.900 2,0 13.971.500 5,8
  New EU Countries (EU13)* 108.400 16,3 1.160.300 15,9
Russia** 145.700 -1,0 1.425.800 -11,0
USA** 1.679.500 3,0 17.465.000 0,4
Japan 332.800 8,1 4.146.500 -1,6
Brazil** 199.200 -9,8 1.988.600 -19,8
India 227.800 -1,4 2.966.600 7,0
China 2.610.100 10,7 23.693.400 17,8
Eckehart Rotter
Eckehart Rotter Head of Department Press

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