Global car market remains stable

2018 marked a somewhat challenging year for the global car market, as sales fell for the first time since 2009. Many carmakers felt the effects of trade tensions between the world’s biggest economies, political changes in key markets, and new threats to the status quo of the industry.

Strong results in India, Brazil, Russia and South East Asia offset stalling sales in Europe, China and the US. Besides stalling sales in China, the automotive industry also had to deal with uncertainty in the European market, following the fallout from Brexit and the introduction of more complex environmental regulations. It also had to deal with leadership changes at some of the world’s biggest car makers, which are not always easy to navigate.

In what was one of the most significant results from 2018, India became the world’s fourth largest car market, as it was finally able to outsell Germany. India’s growth is projected to continue over the next few years, with it expected to become the third largest market by 2021.

Elsewhere, Russia climbed the rankings and overtook South Korea, while Argentina and Turkey – two big producers of vehicles – saw declines, having felt the effects of challenging economic times. China continued to lead the world rankings with 28.08 million sales, followed by Europe with 17.7 million sales and the US with 17.3 million sales. Meanwhile, Latin America outsold Japan, recording 5.6 million and 5.2 million sales, respectively.

2018 marked a record year for the sale of battery-powered electric vehicles. Passenger electric cars recorded 1.26 million sales throughout the year, up by a huge 74%. It was one of the highest increases among all car categories on the global market.

SUVs once again drove sales in the global market, proving that the boom in demand for the segment was not just a fad, but a long-lasting trend that continues to appeal to consumers around the world. However, as was expected, growth in the segment did slow down to single digits. A record 29.77 million SUVs were sold in 2018, with volume up by 7% on 2017. 

Conversely, 2018 marked a good year for pickups, which outsold city-cars, as global volume totaled 5.2 million units, up by five per cent on 2017. Surprisingly, the growth in the segment was not driven by the US, where more than half of global sales are recorded, but by Thailand and Brazil.

The Ford F-Series maintained its position as the world’s best-selling vehicle, as it was the only vehicle to register more than one million sales. This was due to the enormous popularity of the model in the US, where 84% of its global volume was recorded.