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Global vehicle sales heading to 100 million

On the up: The Chinese-made Baojun 510 – a product of the GM/SAIC Motor joint venture – is one of the top-sellers in the world’s biggest motor market.

Three motor manufacturers rack up 10 million sales as world volume tops 90 million

31 Jan 2018

GLOBAL vehicle sales appear poised to crack an unprecedented 100 million cars and trucks a year in the next year or two, with China accounting for more than a quarter of those sales.

Although definitive figures for 2017 are unavailable, world vehicle sales are believed to have passed the 90 million mark for the first time in 2017 on the back of continuing growth in emerging markets and recovery in Europe.

Of those sales, about 80 million were light vehicles – cars, SUVs and pick-ups – with the remainder trucks.

Four leading motor manufacturers – Volkswagen Group, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, Toyota Motor Corporation and General Motors – were responsible for more than 40 per cent of global sales last year.

The first three of those car-making groups all reported sales above 10 million units last year.

The next biggest manufacturer, General Motors, is yet to report a complete picture of its global sales in 2017, but it might struggle join the 10 million club like it did in 2016.

The American giant and former number one missed out on several months of Opel and Vauxhall sales last year after the sale of its European operations to French manufacturer PSA Group in August.

GM was also hamstrung by its sales performance in the US where its sales fell 1.3 per cent, to 3.0 million units, last year.

However, rising sales of GM cars in China – up 4.4 per cent to a record 4.04 million units – might help the company get somewhere near 10 million vehicles globally.

China was again by far the biggest market in 2017, achieving 28.87 million sales – a gain of 3.0 per cent.

This represented a slowing of the break-neck growth of the Chinese market compared with previous years, but the Chinese industry authority predicts the market growth will steady at the current level, forecasting 3.0 per cent growth again in 2018.

The United States market slipped about 1.8 per cent, from 17.6 million vehicles in 2016 to 17.2 million last year, ending a stellar upward run since the global financial crisis.

The 2017 battle for the manufacturer sales crown last year went to either VW or the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, depending which way you count it.

The 2016 winner VW claimed 10.74 million combined sales – up 4.3 per cent despite its dieselgate handicap – from its flock of motoring brands that, apart from VW, includes the likes of Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Seat and Lamborghini.

However, the Alliance cried foul, saying VW had included heavy vehicles from its Scania and MAN brands in its tally, when it apparently should only include light vehicles – passenger cars, SUVs and light-commercial vehicles.

If we subtract the 183,500 Scania/MAN trucks from the VW score, VW sold 10.53 million vehicles – just short of the claimed 10.6 million sales by the Alliance.

The Alliance’s rise to the top was largely due to the addition of 1.03 million vehicles from Mitsubishi in its count for 2017 after the Alliance bought a controlling stake in the Japanese brand in 2016.

This pushed Japan’s number one manufacturer, Toyota, down to third place in 2017, despite a 2.1 per cent gain in sales, to 10.38 million vehicles.

But the Toyota tally not only includes Toyota, Lexus and Daihatsu-branded vehicles but also 185,000 Hino trucks which, if we subtract those from the total, brings the Toyota result down to 10.2 million.

Fourth-placed Hyundai Motor Group – including the Hyundai and Kia brands – suffered one of the biggest declines of the major players, down 7.0 per cent to 7.25 million units.

Hyundai-badged vehicles achieved 4.5 million sales, with Kia scoring 2.27 million.

Ford’s final sales figure is expected to be about 6.6 million, just below last year’s total. Lower sales in North America, Middle East and Asia Pacific were mostly offset by sales increases in South America and Europe.

While Honda enjoyed a stellar 2017 with 5.02 million sales – up 6.0 per cent – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) went backwards to the tune of 1.0 per cent, to 4.42 million sales. FCA was not helped by a 1.0 per cent dip in Jeep global sales, to 1.38 million.

French manufacturer PSA had the biggest gain – 15 per cent – largely due to the acquisition of Opel and Vauxhall in mid-2017.

However, sales of its mainstream brand, Peugeot, climbed 10.4 per cent, more than offsetting a 7.5 per cent decline in Citroen sales.

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