Press Releases

European car market: switch to WLTP boosts registrations

Berlin, 19 September 2018

US matches last year’s level – China and India contract – Brazil and Russia show double-digit growth

Passenger car sales on the world’s major markets varied widely in August. Whereas the European market grew strongly owing to unusual circumstances, August sales in the US hovered around last year’s level. Sales decreased in China. India also failed to match last year’s result. Japan again recorded rising figures, while Brazil and Russia both enjoyed double-digit growth.

With customers anticipating the introduction of WLTP, the European passenger car market (EU28+EFTA) showed unusually strong expansion in August. For the first time in 20 years, the August result broke through the 1 million mark. New registrations of passenger cars added 30 percent, soaring to 1.2 million units. Similar growth was last seen in 2009, triggered by the environmental bonuses available in many countries. The five largest individual markets all recorded growth in August. The greatest dynamism was seen on the Spanish market with an increase of almost 49 percent. Double-digit expansion also occurred in France (+40 percent), Germany (+25 percent) and the UK (+23 percent). The Italian market added more than 9 percent.

The US market for light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) stagnated in August. The trend away from passenger cars to the light truck segment continued and for the first time over 70 percent of vehicles sold were light trucks. Since the beginning of the year 11.4 million vehicles have been sold, i.e. 1 percent more than in the same period last year. While sales of light trucks during the first eight months rose by 9 percent to 7.8 million units, sales of passenger cars fell by 13 percent to 3.6 million units.

The Chinese passenger car market recorded a fall of 5 percent in August, with sales of 1.8 million units. So far this year, a total of 14.9 million cars have been sold – a rise of a good 3 percent.

In India, the long-term effects of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced last year were still being felt in August. Sales were down 2 percent to 287,200 new vehicles. The fall is explained by the exceptionally strong sales last year. From January to August 2018, 2.3 million passenger cars were sold, which was a year-to-date rise of 9 percent.

Last month the Japanese passenger car market expanded for the second month in succession. Totaling 302,300 units, 4 percent more new vehicles were registered than in August last year. The 3.0 million cars registered this year so far equate to a loss of 1 percent.

August was a good month on the Russian light vehicle market, too. A rise of 11 percent took domestic sales to 147,400 units. The accumulated total after eight months is also positive: since January 1.1 million new vehicles have been sold, which is an increase of 16 percent.

In Brazil, the light vehicle market expanded by 14 percent last month, with 239,600 new vehicles registered. Year-to-date sales currently total 1.6 million units, also 14 percent above last year’s figure.

  August 2018 January-August 2018
  Units Change
18/17 in %
Units  Change
18/17 in %
Europe (EU28+EFTA)*


29.8 11,182,100 5.9
  European Union (EU-28)* 1,134,300 31.2 10,861,300 6.2
  Western Europe (EU15+EFTA) 1,018,100 26.7 10,157,700 4.8
  New EU Countries (EU13)* 153,600 54.6 1,024,400 17.7
Russia** 147,400 11.0 1,140,100 16.2
USA** 1,473,900 0.0 11,410,900 1.1
Japan 302,300 4.0 2,963,300 -1.1
Brazil** 239,600 14.0 1,577,800 14.1
India 273,200 -2.5 2,313,200 8.8
China 1,758,000 -4.7 14,890,300 3.2
* 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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