As we’re approaching the final few weeks of 2015, it’s becoming clear that this has been another great year for the automotive industry, most notably in the two largest markets in the world: China and the US. Both markets are on track to set new volume records in 2015, but have taken different paths towards those records. The previous US sales record was set in 2000, when automakers sold 17,4 million cars but never reached that figure ever since. At that time, the US market was more than 30 times bigger than the Chinese car market, but the latter hasn’t stopped growing ever since. And at an amazing pace: 27,5% per year on average. As a result, the Chinese passenger car market caught up with that of the US in 2013, and is set to break through the 20 million units barrier for the first time this year.
US car sales
Total passenger car sales in the US are estimated to come in at 17,5 million units in 2015, beating the 2000 record by 100.000 units, and a 68% increase over the low of 2009. It would also be the 5th time in the past 6 years that annual US sales have increased by more than 1 million units over the previous year. Through November, US car sales are up 5,4% to 15,8 million units and December should add about 1,69 million to that score, which would be an increase of 12,5% but keep in mind this month has 2 additional selling days compared to last December and, for the first time since 2009, five weekends.
China car sales
17,8 million cars have been sold in China in the first 11 months of 2015, an increase of 7,3% on last year. December sales are expected to improve by 21% to an estimated 2,4 million units thanks to the government tax cut on vehicles with engines smaller than 1,6 liters, which already boosted the October volume by 14,2% and November volume by 23,3%. That would mean Chinese consumers would buy 20,2 million passenger cars this year. As a result China will pass 20 million sales just 5 years after it broke through the 10 million sales marker.
European car sales
How does Europe stack up against these record breakers? Well, not all that bad actually, considering the European car market has been very slow to come out of its slump. January through November sales are up 8,7% and have already beaten the full year 2014 figure at 12,6 million units. December should add another 1,08 million to that figure to make it 13,68 million for 2015, the highest figure in 4 years and the third consecutive year-over-year increase. However, it is still a long way from the peak years of 2004 and 2005 when more than 16 million cars were sold in Europe, or even from 2008-2011 when more cars were sold in Europe than in the US or China. Since the “double dip” in 2012, the old continent has been a distant #3 and isn’t likely to catch up soon.
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