Auto sales growth stalls in China, Europe and USA

Global autos Dec11.pngNovember (red line) was a mixed month for auto sales, as the above chart shows. It updates the state of the world’s 3 largest markets:

• China remained the largest market with sales of 1.3m. Its Year To Date (YTD) sales are up 6% at 12.5m
• Europe is the 2nd largest market with sales of 1.03m, but YTD was down 2% at 12.1m
• The USA is 3rd, with sales of 1m, and YTD up 11% at 11.6m

In terms of total volumes, YTD 2011 was up 5% versus 2010 at 36.2m. This is a slowdown versus the 9% growth seen in 2010. But it is still respectable.

Interestingly, the USA is now leading the recovery, as both China and Europe have slowed. But its volumes are still a long way from the 15m-17m annual sales which were seen routinely until 2007.

China’s growth has slowed very sharply. Its sales were up 49% in 2009, and 30% last year. But the ending of the stimulus programmes has reduced demand growth very sharply.

Europe, however, is the weakest link. Its volumes have been lower every year since 2007. And it has become dangerously reliant on Germany:

1. Sales there were up 3% in November, as its economy continued to benefit from China’s demand.
2. But in the other major markets, the UK was down 4%, Spain down 6%, France down 8% and Italy down 9%.

Autos are a critical market for the chemical industry. They also provide an important insight into the wider state of consumer demand. Currently they are flashing an amber warning light that difficult times may lie ahead in all the main regions.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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