Worldwide passenger vehicle sales increased in October. In particular, the Asian markets were able to further expand on the growth of the last few months and significantly increase passenger car sales versus the previous year. The U.S. market is also showing signs of stabilizing, with October sales slightly exceeding the level of the previous year. Markets continue to be mixed in Europe. Whereas the positive effects on demand from the cash for clunkers programs predominate in Western Europe, there is still no end in sight to the decline in the new EU member states. Overall, new car registrations in Europe were up 11 percent in October and thus remain 5 percent below the previous year with 12.2 million cars registered so far this year.
In Western Europe, 1.2 million new cars (+16 percent) were registered in October, the fifth straight month of increased sales. Driving this growth were the large Western European passenger car markets, where incentives continue to invigorate the automobile business. Besides Germany (+24 percent), the UK (+32 percent), Spain (+26 percent), France (+20 percent), and Italy (+16 percent) also recorded a further increase in sales last month. Altogether, sales in Western Europe decreased by only 3 percent over the first 10 months of the current year.
The new EU member states continued to struggle in October with the months-old slump in sales. Only the Czech market continued to grow (+9 percent); all other Eastern European countries recorded declining sales. Passenger car sales in the new EU member states totaled 62,400 vehicles in October, down 37 percent from the year-ago level. For the year, sales are down nearly 30 percent.
The demand for passenger cars in Russia is also showing no signs of recovery, with October sales again down 52 percent versus the year-ago period. The passenger car business in Russia has declined by more than 50 percent in the first ten months of 2009. The German manufacturers were somewhat less severely affected by the decline and were able to expand their market share to nearly 17 percent since the start of the year.
In the U.S., sales showed signs of stabilizing in October. Sales of light vehicles totaled 835,900 units, which is up slightly (+0.2 percent) from the year-ago month. Corrected for seasonal effects, the U.S. actually recorded a strong gain of some 15 percent. Through the end of October, however, 8.6 million light vehicles and thus roughly one-fourth fewer vehicles were sold on the U.S. market than in the same period of the previous year.
In contrast, passenger car sales continue to boom in Brazil, with sales of light vehicles up roughly 25 percent in October. The Brazilian market has grown by 7 percent over the first 10 months of the current year.
The automobile business in Asia accelerated once again in October. The Japanese market, which has been supported with substantial government incentive programs since mid-June, recorded its third sales increase in a row with a gain of nearly 8 percent. Tax breaks and the payment of cash for clunkers have successfully stimulated the demand for passenger cars in Japan. Nevertheless, sales have still declined by 12 percent in the year to date.
The Indian and Chinese markets continue to be very dynamic. New passenger car registrations in India increased by a good third in October; sales are up by more than 11 percent overall through the end of October. The Chinese market is growing even faster, with sales increasing by more than two-thirds (+67 percent) last month. Passenger car sales in China have increased by 39 percent since the start of the year.