Top vehicle markets, 2011

It’s that time of the year, when we roll out the Top Ten Eleven vehicle markets cartogram. As usual, based on data from Ward’s. Scroll down for the nifty graphic (thanks to Chris Malins).

Compared with previous years:

  • The darkest days of the global automotive industry in terms of sales may be behind us, unless things start to fall apart in EU and China. Sales grew by 4% year-over-year from 2010 to 72.8 million units, which is the highest-ever sales number recorded.
  • A significant share of this growth (1.3 million out of 2.8 million) comes from the rebounding U.S. auto market. That market, which sold 13 million units in 2011, continues to recover in 2012: U.S. light-duty vehicle sales are on track to reach 14 million in 2012.
  • The other country in the top market list to grow rapidly in 2011 was Russia, where sales grew by the whopping 38.3% to 2.8 million, surpassing the highs of 2007.
  • Economic worries in the EU resulted in a slight decrease in sales in 2011, a trend that is projected to continue in 2012. Net result might be that the U.S. and EU may swap positions next year.
  • China remains the largest vehicle market by a wide margin, but overall sales grew only 2.5% from 2010 to 2011.
  • The horrible earthquake and Fukushima Daichi disaster in Japan resulted in sales tumbling by over 15 percent from 2010 to 2011. In spite of this, Japan continues to be number 4 on the list.
  • In fact, neither the list of countries nor the rankings have changed from 2010. But it should be noted that the share of global sales accounted for by the top eleven continues to shrink, falling from 93% in 2007 to just over 90% in 2011.
  • Sales growth in India (8.6%) continues to outpace sales growth in Brazil (3.4%), and a result the gap between Brazil (#5) and India (#6) has shrunk further this year to only 0.33 million.
  • Canada and South Korea are still duking it out for the eighth spot. While Canadian sales have not yet caught up with the highwater mark set in 2007, sales grew sufficiently to keep up with sales growth in Korea.
  • Mexico sales recovered alongside those in the US, but Mexico (0.93 million) continues to lag Australia (1 million) in the list, despite a 2.6% drop in Australian sales.
  • Three countries—Turkey (0.9 million), Indonesia (0.89 million) and Argentina (0.88 million)—grew at a breakneck pace in 2011, and are closely following Mexico and Australia on the list. It appears unlikely that any of these countries will catch up with Mexico in the next year or two, but it is possible that a slowdown in Australia’s economy might change the ordering for positions 10–14 on the top vehicle market list next year.