Annual sales of cars and commercial vehicles rose 2.6% last year, but demand is shifting in a changing global market.
The automotive industry sold 86.05 million cars and commercial vehicles around the world in 2017, a rise of more than 2 million units compared to the year before.
The regional results paint an interesting picture, with new figures from industry automotive analysts Jato showing that demand in India grew particularly strongly, with sales up 9% to 3.61 million.
This places India just behind the world’s fourth biggest market, Germany, where 3.71 million units were sold.
China remained the largest vehicle market overall, with demand rising 2.3% to 25.8 million units.
Sales in Europe grew 3.5% to make it the world’s second biggest vehicle market, replacing North America after it declined 1.5%, mainly on the back of slowing sales in the US.
This changing landscape poses some interesting questions about the future shape of the market and whether 2018 will lead to further fundamental changes, according to Felipe Munoz, JATO’s global analyst.
He said: “It will be interesting to see how the role of the emerging markets increases in importance, with India projected to overtake Germany as the fourth largest car market globally, and Latin America showing positive signs.
“The automotive market performed well in 2017, with established economies maintaining growth, whilst developing markets like Russia and Brazil returned to growth following declines last year.”
Overall, total sales paint a positive picture for global markets, with Munoz adding: “The results in 2017 show that despite the crisis with the diesel fuel type and localised issues such as Brexit causing European uncertainty, the automotive market as a whole is continuing to grow.”
During 2017, a total of 82 million cars were sold, up 2.3% on 2016, and 4.05 million light commercial vehicles, representing a year-on-year rise of 4.4%.
SUVs reached a new record market share in 2017, accounting for 34% of the total market across 52 markets analysed. A total of 27.85 million SUVs were sold last year, a 12.7% increase of 3.14 million units compared to 2016.
The Ford-F Series pick-up remained the world’s best-selling car, based on a loyal US customer base that accounts for 80% of its total volume.
In terms of fuel types, estimated data shows that gasoline cars and LCVs continued to dominate the global market in 2017, with 72.5% market share.
Diesel declined 3.7% because of falling demand in its strongest market, Europe, which accounts for two out of three sales, as governments change their policies towards the fuel.
Outside of Europe, Thailand, New Zealand and South Korea all remain strong markets for diesels.
Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) soared nearly 30% year-on-year to 3.79 million units, to end with a market share of 4.4%.
Norway accounted for 41.9% of AFVs sold, followed by Japan (27.8%) and Israel (9.5%).
Last year, hybrids accounted for 2.51 million sales. A total of 668,000 pure electric cars and LCVs were sold, an increase of 78.4%, while demand for plug-ins rose 62.5% to 417,300 units.