The international automotive markets are continuing to expand – only in Western Europe and Brazil did sales fall during the month of April. The Chinese passenger car market is buoyant again and last month it grew by 14 per cent. Sales in Japan actually doubled compared with the same month last year. While the Central and Eastern European countries recorded expansion, sales in Western Europe continued their downward trend. The German market had a stabilising effect on the generally weak European market.
The US light vehicle market also maintained a very positive mood in April. At 1.18 million units sold, demand was 2 per cent above that in April 2011. However, last month the manufacturers had three fewer trading days, and therefore growth was less strong than it was in the preceding months. The passenger car segment gained more than 3 per cent (619,500 units). The market for light trucks climbed to 561,600 vehicles, rising by one per cent. In this setting the German automotive manufacturers continue to improve their position on the US market. In April they sold almost 104,400 light vehicles (+21 per cent). In the first four months of this year they achieved an increase of nearly 23 per cent (378,100 vehicles). The overall US market has grown by 10 per cent over the same period.
The Chinese market for passenger cars showed double-digit growth in April – with a rise of 14 per cent and sales once again exceeding the one million mark. This year so far 4.22 million passenger cars have been sold, which is a year-on-year increase of 4 per cent.
The Indian passenger car market also showed very welcome growth of 10 per cent last month, to 227,000 units. In the first four months sales of cars climbed by 14 per cent to over one million.
In Japan, passenger car sales doubled in April to reach 306,300 units. Alongside the Japanese Government’s ongoing bonus schemes, the main reason for the massive growth is the low level in 2011, brought about by the natural disaster in Fukushima. Japanese demand for passenger cars therefore showed high double-digit growth for the seventh time in succession. Since the beginning of this year 1.76 million passenger cars have been sold, i.e. 57 per cent more than last year.
Success also continues on the Russian light vehicle market: sales in April 2012 were 14 per cent up on the figure one year ago. Demand came to almost 266,300 vehicles. Rising by 18 per cent, sales since January have now reached 880,500 units. Sales of light vehicles from German OEMs have increased by 41 per cent this year, which is again almost three times as fast as the market as a whole. The market share going to German group brands since the beginning of this year has risen by 4.5 percentage points to 20.6 per cent.
Last month the Brazilian market for light vehicles showed a year-on-year fall of 10 per cent. The falling sales figures – 244,600 units – are due to factors such as stricter requirements imposed by banks granting loans, and rising unemployment; both of these factors reduce the purchasing power of private households. In the first four months of this year new registrations dropped by 3 per cent to 1.02 million units. Since January the German group brands have maintained their market share at more than one fifth.
The Western European passenger car market contracted by 7 percent in April. Total demand came to 992,900 vehicles, with the German market supporting the overall result with its 274,100 units (+3 per cent). Car sales in the United Kingdom also showed a positive trend: 142,300 newly registered units resulted in an increase of 3 per cent. The French market totalled 166,600 passenger cars sold and is therefore on course for consolidation (-2 per cent). In Italy (-18 per cent) and Spain (-22 per cent), the programmes of public spending cuts and a difficult economic situation left noticeable effects on the passenger car business. Among the smaller Western European markets, positive results were recorded in both Switzerland (+5 per cent) and Luxembourg (+3 per cent). In the first four months of 2012, 4.23 million passenger cars were registered in Western Europe. Demand was 8 per cent down on the same period last year.
In the new EU countries on the other hand, the automotive business again developed well. Here the passenger car market expanded by 4 per cent in April, to a total of 65,400 new registrations. Especially strong growth was seen on the markets in Hungary (+16 per cent) and the Czech Republic (+13 per cent). And in Poland, the largest market, demand climbed by 7 per cent compared with the previous year. By contrast, last month demand for new cars fell in Romania (-14 per cent) and Slovenia (-13 per cent). The largest growth since the beginning of the year was recorded on the Hungarian passenger car market, with an increase of 21 per cent. In the new EU countries taken together, new registrations in the first four months totalled almost 262,600 units, which is 8 per cent up on last year.