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All-time record on passenger car market in Western Europe

Berlin, 19 April 2017

International car markets: Brazil and Russia record growth – China remains dynamic

Passenger car sales on the major international markets produced positive results in March. Western Europe recorded double-digit growth, and China also continued its upward trend. Russia – and Brazil in particular – surprised observers by expanding. The only exception was the US market that narrowly failed to reach last year’s figure.

The Western European automobile market demonstrated its strength in March. New registrations of passenger cars rose by a good 10 percent to an all-time record of more than 1.8 million units. Never before have so many new cars been registered in one month, although March had two more working days this year than it had in 2016. All the five largest individual markets expanded. Italy enjoyed the strongest growth, with a rise of over 18 percent. Double-figure increases also occurred in Spain (+13 percent) and Germany (+11 percent). In the United Kingdom, new registrations added a good 8 percent. The French passenger car market grew by 7 percent.

The smaller Western European markets showed varied developments in March. Sales turned in double-digit growth in Greece (+50 percent), the Netherlands (+24 percent), Denmark (+19 percent), Austria (+15 percent) and Sweden (+11 percent). Increases were also recorded in Belgium (+8 percent), Switzerland (+5 percent) and Iceland (+1 percent). Year-on-year decreases were seen in Ireland (-8 percent), Finland (-4 percent), Norway (-3 percent) and Portugal (-2 percent).

The Western European passenger car market finished the first quarter of 2017 with a positive result: at 3.9 million new registrations, the market is currently more than 7 percent up on last year.

In the new EU Member States, passenger car sales rose by 21 percent compared to last year, to reach 124,100 units. In the first quarter of 2017 a total of 318,600 passenger cars were newly registered (+18 percent). Growth of 20 percent or more during this period was recorded in Romania (+28 percent), Hungary (+24 percent), Croatia (+23 percent), Bulgaria (+22 percent), Poland (+20 percent) and Lithuania (+20 percent).

Sales on the US market for light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) lost 2 percent in March, falling to just over 1.5 million units. After the first three months of the year, the market totaled 4.0 million lightly vehicles, which was slightly below the level for the same period last year (-1 percent). While sales of light trucks rose by 6 percent to 2.5 million units, sales of passenger cars slumped by 12 percent to 1.5 million new vehicles. This means that in the first quarter of 2017 light trucks accounted for 63.0 percent of the overall light vehicle market (58.4 percent one year ago).

The Chinese passenger car market expanded once again in March, even if growth was slower than in the previous month. The sales volume just exceeded 2.0 million new cars, i.e. around 3 percent higher than in March 2016. In the first quarter of this year passenger car sales increased by 6 percent, with 5.8 million vehicles sold in all.

In India the passenger car market also showed a rise (+10 percent) last month, with 282,500 new cars being sold. Accumulated year-to-date sales amount to 803,200 vehicles, which is also double-digit growth as compared with last year’s level (+11 percent).

The volume of new registrations in Japan rose again in March. The total came to 583,800 units, which was nearly 10 percent more new vehicle registrations than in the same month last year. Vehicle sales since January have also increased – by almost 8 percent to over 1.3 million units.

March was a good month on the Russian light vehicle market, too. With a rise of more than 9 percent, domestic sales climbed to 137,900 units. Thanks to this strong growth, now also the quarterly result is positive. Since January 322,500 new vehicles have been sold, which is an increase of 1 percent.

The Brazilian light vehicle market grew again in March – for the first time in more than two years. The total of 184,200 new vehicles represented a rise of over 6 percent. The last increase was seen in December 2014, but since then the market had continually contracted. This year so far the market volume has lost 1 percent, falling to 460,600 units.

New Passenger Car Registrations/Sales

  March 2017 January - March 2017
  Units Change 17/16 in % Units Change 17/16 in %
Europe (EU28+EFTA)* 1.936.800 10,9 4.256.200 8,2
  European Union (EU-28)* 1.891.600 11,2 4.141.300 8,4
  W. Europe (EU15+EFTA) 1.812.700 10,3 3.937.600 7,5
  New EU Countries (EU13)* 124.100 20,7 318.600 18,2
Russia** 137.900 9,4 322.500 1,0
USA** 1.548.000 -1,6 4.013.900 -1,4
Japan 583.800 9,6 1.340.500 7,8
Brazil** 184.200 6,2 460.600 -1,1
India 282.500 10,0 803.200 11,1
China 2.021.800 2,5 5.779.000 5,7

* 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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