2016 was another record year for global car sales, with growth of 4.8 per cent from 2015 results.
Consumers worldwide bought 88.1 million passenger cars and light commercials in 2016. It was the fastest rate of growth since 2013, but a Macquarie Bank report predicts a slowdown in 2017.
The growth was chiefly due to China, which experienced 18 per cent growth, selling 3.2 million more vehicles than it did in 2015. In Asian markets passenger vehicle sales have doubled over the past seven years. In China vehicle sales have quadrupled in the past 25 years and the country is now the world’s producer of automobiles (more than the next two – USA and Japan – combined).
Sales in the European Union grew by 1.1 million, or seven per cent, while growth was more modest in the USA, at just 0.4 per cent, or 70,000 more cars than the previous year.
Elsewhere sales fell, most notably in Brazil (down 20 per cent), Russia (11 per cent) and Japan (two per cent).
The surge in sales in China was partly attributable to a 50 per cent cut in sales tax for smaller vehicles. Although this tax break was extended a further year the discount has been halved, which Macquarie says will weaken sales in 2017 predicting that 2017 growth will be half that of 2016.
“The main reason for this slowdown is to be found in China,” the Macquarie report says.
“Not only has the tax incentive been halved, to 2.5 per cent, but the surge in sales seen in the last few months must owe something to consumers bringing forward purchases in case the incentive was scrapped completely.”
Macquarie expects sales in China to grow by 2.8 per cent in 2017, depending on the health of the economy. The bank says it is “reasonably bullish, at least in the first half of the year” about China’s prospects.
According to the 2016 global car sales statistics the best-selling car for the year was Toyota Corolla, with 946,000 sales. However, as far as the biggest auto manufacturers were concerned, Volkswagen ranked on the top with at least 10.1 million units manufactured in 2016.
UK hits record high
New passenger car registrations in the UK reached an annual all-time high in 2016, with a total 2.69 million units registered, 2.3 per cent more than last year. This was achieved “despite an uncertain political and economic landscape”, said Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA).
New passenger car registrations declined 1.1 per cent in December, with 178,022 units. These figures bring the total number of units registered in 2016 to 2,692,786, an increase of 2.3 per cent on 2015’s record result. Alternative fuel vehicles rose by 8.0 per cent in December, meaning a growth of 22.2 per cent in 2016.
“This slowdown was expected towards the end of the year and we believe the segments of the market that saw an increase in December and have consistently performed well throughout the year, such as alternative fuel vehicles, will continue to drive the growth in the upcoming months”, Ms Robinson said.
“The retail automotive industry has showed its resilience in 2016 and proved its key role in the UK economy. As economic and political changes happen in the near future we hope that economic measures will be put in place to protect consumer confidence and the interests of our industry.
“Although we are aware of the challenges ahead, we are looking forward to seeing what the new year has in store.”