Global Car Sales Growth To Gather Momentum In 2018.
New Technology Disruption Lurks.
Global automobile sales growth will gain momentum in 2018, led by emerging markets in general and a revived Russia in particular.
And sales next year will have special significance, marking the first chapter of the disrupted industry as it handles electrification, automated driving and new mobility ideas. Leadership may be changing from west to east.
China’s amazingly powerful growth will slow, Japan will accelerate, while everyone will be keeping a nervous eye on talks between the U.S., Mexico and Canada on NAFTA. Any problems here might have a snowball effect on world auto trade.
According to BMI Research, the world’s vehicle sales will rise by 3.6% in 2018, up from an estimated 3.3% growth in 2017. Last year was a record-breaking year for global car sales. According to a report from Macquarie Bank, 88.1 million cars and light vehicles were sold in 2016, up 4.8% a year earlier.
“Emerging markets will contribute the bulk of growth, while sales in many major developed states will slow or even contract,” BMI Research said in a report.
Europe’s growth is expected to slow a bit in 2018, while the U.S. is now likely to see sales dip slightly next year. In 2016 Europe’s sales hit about 17 million and the U.S. 17.6 million
The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) at the University of Duisberg-Essen in Germany expects global car sales growth of 2.2% next year, but this will mask better progress by local manufacturers.
Germans outpace the world
“Once again, German premium manufacturers are developing more strongly than the world market. According to our estimates, the worldwide sales of Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche will increase by 4.5% in 2018, while the global passenger car market will grow only 2.2%,” CAR said.
BMI Research is worried about the ramifications of a NAFTA breakdown.
“Downside risk comes from the ongoing negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which are set to end in the first quarter of 2018. Automotive trade in particular has become a sticking point given the highly integrated nature of the North American autos industry. If a worst case scenario of NAFTA being scrapped altogether plays out, there could be some impact on prices from change in trade conditions which would be negative for customers,” BMI Research said.
Asian sales will grow 4.7% in 2018, slightly slower than the previous 5% estimated for 2017.
“This is still ahead of the (global) forecast of 3.6% and Asia Pacific maintains its position as one of the most consistent regions for positive growth. We expect growth in China’s new vehicle market to continue slowing in 2018 as prices on small engine vehicles (1.6 liters and smaller) rise, due to the scaling back of tax incentives. In contrast to China we expect Japan’s vehicle sales to accelerate further in 2018, with forecast growth of 6.7%,” BMI Research said.
China’s sales in 2016 were 25.5 million and Japan’s 4.9 million.
A hugely improved Russia will be a major feature in 2018 with vehicle sales jumping 11%. That will please Ford Motor, which hung on through the bad times, as General Motors mothballed plants. In 2016 Russian sales hit 1.35 million
CAR’s Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer said global sales gains next year won’t be just more regular cars, they will represent the first signs of the auto revolution, with big implications for a possible shift in leadership from the old to the new.
“It’s not just a technology shift from the combustion engine to the electric drive, the driver-oriented to the robot-oriented car, from the owned car to the mobility tool car, but also a change in the meaning of the car. No longer U.S., Western Europe and Japan – the old triad markets – describe the business, but Asia without Japan, and Eastern Europe are rapidly expanding their position. 2018 will be a year that will accelerate technological change and change in the market regions. And 2018 is a transitional year for electromobility, which will set the world’s drive technology with its home location China in the future,” Dudenhoeffer said.