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Big gains were seen in every region except North America, with China accounting for much of the global improvement.

in WardsAuto, by Sarah Petit, 28-07-2017



Global vehicle sales in first-half 2017 totaled 47.03 million units, beating last year’s record by 2.6%.

Growth in China accounted for nearly 40% of the world’s improvement with sales increasing 3.7% to 13.29 million vehicles through June. Consumers favored SUVs, which saw 16.8% growth while small car sales declined 4.4% after tax incentives were removed from small-engine vehicle sales. Chinese brands improved 5.5% year-over-year and commanded 41.3% of all passenger car sales.

Results were mixed in the Asia-Pacific region overall, but still gained 3.6% in first-half 2017 with 21.44 million sales.

Australia sales were flat at 600,000 vehicles, Indonesia was down 12.1% to 468,000 and Philippines tumbled 15.7% to 159,000.

South Korea witnessed a 3.6% drop to 901,000 vehicles amid political protests against corruption, impeachment of the president and election of a new, more liberal president.

The region’s losses were balanced by a 9.2% gain in Japan, the region’s second-largest market, to 2.78 million sales. In 2016, sales were stronger in the second half, but still fell short of the previous year. While wages remained stagnant and private consumption low, a strong export market has helped the Japanese economy inch toward recovery and consumers may begin to make purchases they’ve been delaying.

Strong first-half gains also were seen in India, rising 6.0% to 1.92 million units, and Pakistan, up 10.6% to 120,000.

Even without China’s enormous growth, sales in the Asia-Pacific region improved 3.4%.

Europe sales through June improved 4.1% with 10.90 million deliveries. Results were positive in most large markets, but fell 9.0% in Turkey to 411,000 units and dropped 10.7% in Ireland to 109,000.

Auto dealers in Germany sold 1.97 million vehicles, improving 3.0% over 6-month 2016. In France, sales increased 3.5% to 1.39 million during a time of significant political change when President Macron was elected from a brand new political party.

Russia sales climbed 7.7% to 767,000 units, boosted by a 14.9% increase in June. The market seems to be turning around after several years of weak demand. Still, the 2011 first-half total was nearly twice as high at 1.48 million.

Sales in the U.K. slowed 1.5% to 1.62 million. First quarter sales boomed (+5.3%) before new vehicle excise duty rates were implemented in April, which brought Q2 sales (-9.4%) closer to forecasted levels. However, alternatively fueled vehicles benefited from a small tax incentive, soaring 27.5% year-over-year to hold a record 4.2% share of passenger car sales.

Many countries in South America witnessed significant growth in first-half 2017, after experiencing double-digit losses last year. Sales were up 11.0% to 1,873,000 for the region.

Argentina, the second largest market in the region, saw the most improvement, soaring 34.6% to 449,000 units through June. The growth was attributed to rising GDP boosted by strong industrial production and exports.

Sales in Brazil were up 3.5% to 1.02 million in the first half, after a 13.5% surge in June. Last year’s total fell 20.2% behind 2015, so there may be more pent-up demand to be satisfied during the rest of the year.

North America was the only region to decrease year-over-year. The 6-month total of 10.41 million vehicles fell 1.3% below like-2016. Slow sales in the U.S. were to blame, dipping 2.4% to 8.60 million units.

Demand was strong in Mexico, rising 2.9% over last year’s record to 762,000, with best or second-best totals each month. Car, light truck, and medium/heavy duty vehicle types each witnessed growth.

Canada sales improved 4.8% to 1.06 million, posting several monthly total records. The economic outlook is bright in Canada, and light-truck dealers are seeing the benefit, while car sales remain flat.

With auto sales booming in many developing nations, where persons per car rates are still high, world sales should continue to grow through this year and beyond.