Auto sales in the world's 3 main markets (China, USA, EU), saw much slower growth in the past 3 months.
The chart above shows how they have moved in 2011 (red square) versus previous years. It is clear that the stimulus-led boom seen since 2009 has come to an end:
• Overall, sales in the last 3 months were 9.2m, up just 2% on 2010
• Last year, China's sales were soaring, and masked the West's slowdown
• But now the need to fight inflation has ended its credit boom
Thus year to date sales in these 3 major markets were 26m at the end of August. This was only 5% higher than the 2010 level, and looks set to weaken further in Q4. By comparison, 2009 saw a very healthy 10% rise at this stage in the year, even though Q1 had been dreadful.
Last year, these three regions were nearly two-thirds of global auto sales. And it seems other global markets are also slowing: passenger car sales in India actually fell 2% in the April-August period versus 2010.
This slowdown was already evident back in July. Hopefully companies focused on these important markets have now had time to prepare their contingency plans, in case the slowdown continues.