Automotive Industry and Markets


German automobile manufacturers increased global passenger car production in the past year by a solid 1 percent, to a new record of 15.1 million units.

Domestic production

German automobile manufacturers increased global passenger car production in the past year by a solid 1 percent, to a new record of 15.1 million units. The expansion was mostly attributable to domestic production, which rose 2 percent to 5.7 million units. For the first time in ten years, it grew faster than foreign production. The most important segment within passenger car production was once again the compact class in 2015, whose production rose by an above-average 5 percent to 1.7 million units. In third place, behind the medium class, were sport-utility vehicles, with growth of 15 percent to 957,000 units.

Foreign production

The global market share of German passenger car manufacturers, including their corporate brands, was about one-fifth in 2015. Of a worldwide total of 15 million passenger cars, 9.4 million units were produced in the foreign plants of German manufacturers. This put the share of foreign production at 62 percent. The most important foreign location by far was China. After a powerful spurt at the end of the year, production there maintained the previous year’s level at 4 million passenger cars. Foreign production by German manufacturers received a boost primarily in the European Union, with growth of 4 percent to 3.3 million units. Foreign production in EU countries has now grown by 54 percent over the last six years. Production in North America, including Mexico (NAFTA space), also saw positive growth, growing by 7 percent to 1.3 million units. The lion’s share of this was in the USA, with 812,000 units (a 14 percent gain). The Mercosur region saw a substantial drop in production by 29 percent to 372,000 units. In 2010 production was still at 849,000 units. Another driver was South Africa, which gained 27 percent to 294,000 passenger cars.


The international success of the German automotive industry was evident last year again with another rise in the export rate, which reached a new record level at 77 percent. This means that over three out of four cars manufactured in Germany are exported. This result underscores the sustained high level of attractiveness around the world for cars manufactured in Germany. The rising trend of recent years continued in 2015 as well, and exports rose by over 2 percent to 4.4 million passenger cars. 

Europe remained the most important destination continent for passenger cars from Germany, with 2.8 million cars. Growth here of 5 percent was also above average. The countries in the eurozone, which are experiencing an economic recovery, demanded 1.3 million passenger cars (a gain of 9 percent). Exports to peripheral countries in particular, such as Italy (up 14 percent), Spain (up 12 percent) and Portugal (up 19 percent) increased significantly. 

The most important destination country for exports from Germany, however, was outside of the euro area. The United Kingdom received 809,900 passenger cars. The second- largest recipient country was the USA, with 618,800 cars (up 1 percent). Growing by 5 percent, 701,300 units were shipped to Asia. While exports to China dropped by one-quarter to 204,500 units, shipments to South Korea increased by 30 percent to 154,300 vehicles. Exports to Japan were not able to be maintained at the level of the previous year, falling by 12 percent to 124,700 units. The Japanese passenger car market, however, did drop off overall in 2015. Exports to Australia and Oceania took a substantial jump, climbing by 16 percent to 90,700 units.

Dr. Manuel Kallweit Head of Department Markets, Analysis, Raw Materials, Statistics

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