Press Releases

European passenger car market shows modest growth in 2019

Berlin, 16 January 2020

China, Japan and India return falling figures – US and Russia also weaker – Brazil expands strongly

For the international automotive markets 2019 turned out to be a challenging year. The European passenger car market (EU-28 and EFTA) exceeded its 2018 result and demand grew in Brazil, but in the US the number of light vehicles sold was down on the previous year. The Asian markets also showed weak development. China, Japan and India all failed to match their 2018 levels. The Russian market also contracted.

In Europe a total of 15.8 million passenger cars were newly registered in 2019, around 1 percent more than in the previous year. The large volume markets returned varying results. The markets expanded in Germany (+5 percent) and France (+2 percent). In Italy new registrations hovered around the 2018 level. By contrast, falls were recorded in the United Kingdom (-2 percent) and Spain (-5 percent). Out of the approx. 30 European markets, 20 countries finished the year with a positive balance. Passenger car sales in Europe were close to 1.3 million units in December – a year-on-year rise of 21 percent.

In the US, the light vehicle market (passenger cars and light trucks) ended 2019 with nearly 17.0 million vehicles sold (-1 percent). This was the first time the US market had missed the 17-million mark since 2014. Passenger car sales fell by 11 percent, while sales rose by 3 percent in the light truck segment that now accounts for 72 percent of the market as a whole. In December 1.5 million light vehicles were sold (-6 percent).

The volume of the Chinese passenger car market lost almost 10 percent in 2019, falling to 21.0 million new vehicles. Following 2018, this was the second contraction in recent decades. The December sales volume came to just under 2.2 million units, which was 1 percent down on the previous year. China’s weaker overall economic growth is reflected disproportionately in the car market.

Last year the Indian passenger car market failed to match its good result from 2018. A total of 3.0 million units were sold, 13 percent less than in the year before. In December demand was 1 percent lower than in 2018 (235,800 units).

The Japanese new car market totaled 4.3 million units sold in 2019 and therefore remained 2 percent below the previous year’s result. New car sales have been falling since the increase in value-added tax in October 2019 in particular. December sales came to 284,300 units, which was a year-on-year loss of 11 percent.

Following two strong growth years, the Russian light vehicle market lost its momentum last year. The sales volume for 2019 as a whole fell by 2 percent to nearly 1.8 million units. Sales of light vehicles reached 179,200 units in December, which represented a year-on-year rise of 2 percent.

The Brazilian light vehicle market recorded strong growth for 2019 as a whole. New vehicle sales added 8 percent to reach 2.7 million vehicles. This was the third year of growth in succession – after a long weak period. In December the increase came to 12 percent (252,000 units).

  December 2019 January-December 2019
  Units Change
19/18 in %
Units Change
19/18 in %
Europe (EU28+EFTA)*1) 1,261,700 21 15,805,800 1,2
European Union (EU-28)*1) 1,215,000 22 15,340,200 1,2
Western Europe (EU15+EFTA) 1) 1,134,300 21 14,304,100 0,7
New EU Countries (EU13)*1) 127,500 29 1,501,600 6,2
Russia* 2) 179,200 2 1,759,500 -2,3
USA* 3) 1,516,500 -6 16,965,200 -1,4
Japan 4) 284,300 -11 4,301,100 -2,1
Brazil* 5) 252,000 12 2,665,600 7,7
India 6) 235,800 -1 2,962,100 -12,7
China 7) 2,165,000 -1 21,045,000 -9,5
Eckehart Rotter
Eckehart Rotter Head of Department Press

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