Press Releases

International auto markets contract in first quarter

Berlin, 17 April 2019

Europe and US decrease – China has single-digit fall – Russia remains stable

March brought contraction on international automotive markets. The European passenger car market (EU28 and EFTA) again failed to match last year’s level. March sales of light vehicles also fell in the US. China recorded another fall in its figures. Brazil ended the month unchanged from March 2018. Japan and India recorded single-digit losses, while results in Russia showed a slender increase.

In all, 1.8 million vehicles were newly registered on the European market in March – which was 4 percent less than in the same month last year. Sales slumped on all five large individual markets. The figures narrowly failed to match last year’s results in Germany (-1 percent) and France (-2 percent). The shrinkage was much more pronounced in the UK (-3 percent) and Spain (-4 percent). Italy recorded the largest decrease, with new registrations losing 10 percent. In the first quarter of this year, a total of 4.1 million passenger cars were sold in Europe – a fall of 3 percent.

In the US, sales of light vehicles lost 2 percent in March, falling to just over 1.6 million vehicles. First quarter results also finished 2 percent down on 2018. In total 4.0 million light vehicles were sold. Whereas the passenger car segment lost 7 percent, sales of light trucks grew by 1 percent.

The Chinese passenger car market showed a year-on-year fall of 7 percent in March, reaching a sales level of 2.0 million new vehicles. However, the loss was far smaller than that seen in the first two months (-17 percent in each case). The first quarter therefore ended with a volume of 5.2 million units, i.e. 14 percent down on last year.

Passenger car sales in India fell by 3 percent in March (291,800 units). At 844,200 cars sold, the year-to-date market volume has lost 2 percent.

In March the Japanese passenger car market failed to equal last year’s level by around 5 percent, with sales amounting to 532,500 new vehicles. In the first quarter almost 1.3 million cars were newly registered in Japan, which was 2 percent less than in 2018.

The vehicle business in Russia produced a positive March result. The market volume of 160,200 light vehicles represents an increase of nearly 2 percent. This means that under the bottom line the first quarter has a stable result – 391,700 new vehicles, close to last year’s level.

In Brazil, for the first time in 22 months light vehicle sales managed only to match last year’s figures (200,000 units). However, this year March had two trading days fewer than it had in 2018. The balance for the quarter is positive overall, with 581,500 new vehicles sold equating to a rise of 10 percent.

New registrations/sales of passenger cars

  March 2019 January-March 2019
  Units Change
19/18 in %
Units Change
19/18 in %
Europe (EU28+EFTA)*

1,770,800

-3.6 4,146,200 -3.2
European Union (EU-28)* 1,722,400 -3.9 4,032,900 -3.3
Western Europe (EU15+EFTA) 1,642,700 -3.7 3,788,700 -3.5
 New EU Countries (EU13)* 128,200 -2.4 357,500 0.3
Russia** 160,200 1.8 391,700 -0.3
USA** 1,611,400 -2.2 4,008,200 -2.0
Japan 532,500 -5.3 1,276,400 -2.1
Brazil** 200,000 -0.2 581,500 10.1
India 291,800 -3.0 844,200 -2.0
China 1,968,700 -7.3 5,164,100 -13.8
* 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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