With the global nature of the automobile industry and unlike the early years when factories were only in a few places, production now takes place in many countries and collecting data is not easy. But JATO Dynamics, with headquarters in the UK, has managed to collect together data which gives a picture of what the global car market was like in 2018 which was a somewhat challenging year.
To start with, 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. “Last year could be considered as the beginning of a new era for the automotive industry,” said Felipe Munoz, JATO’s global analyst.
However, strong results in India, Brazil, Russia and Southeast Asia offset diminished sales in Europe, China and the USA. “The dip in the Chinese market had ramifications upon the rest of the global market in 2018. As China makes up nearly 30% of global vehicle sales, any change that happens there is felt across the rest of the world,” explained Munoz.
Besides lower 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 carmakers, which are not always easy to navigate.
Growth in Indian market
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.
Strong sales of EVs and SUVs
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, fuelled by sales in China.
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. A record 29.77 million SUVs were sold in 2018, with volume up by 7% on 2017. Renault-Nissan continued to dominate the SUV segment, recording almost 12% of the market share.
The Ford F-Series maintained its position as the world’s best-selling vehicle, as it was the only vehicle to register more than 1 million sales. The Toyota Corolla also maintained its position in the rankings, where it was once again the second best-selling vehicle in the world, with the Honda Civic taking over third spot from the Volkswagen Golf. Meanwhile, the Toyota RAV4 outsold the Nissan X-Trail/Rogue to become the world’s best-selling SUV and fourth best-selling model.