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China is leading global demand for new passenger vehicle sales in major markets, ahead of the US and EU, according to the latest data from ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

ACEA’s latest 29-page Economic and Market Report for Q1 shows that Chinese demand increased by 5.6% to almost 6.0 million vehicles, representing 29.5% of global sales.

This outperformed the US which saw 2% growth at 4.9m vehicles and the EU car market at 4.8m vehicles, which was flat at 0.7% in the first three months of this year.

ACEA said 20.3 million cars were sold globally in Q1, a 2.8% increase on last year.

The EU continues to see the impact of dieselgate as registrations of diesel cars totalled 1,574,333 units in the first quarter of the year; 322,622 units or a 17% drop compared with the same period last year.

The ACEA figures show this drop in demand for EU diesel vehicles was largely offset by an increase in petrol sales. Demand for new petrol cars grew significantly (+14.6%) from January to March 2018, with petrol sales totalling 2,303,129 units – roughly 300,000 more than last year.

The knock-on effect of Brexit on vehicle production is reflected in Q1 figures with EU output falling by 1.4%, US car production fell by 3.4% and growth also slowed in China, with a slight drop of 0.7%.

Despite this, China maintained its leading position among global passenger car producers, accounting for 28% of all cars built around the world so far this year.