Scotiabank Economics reports that global car sales expected to climb to a ninth consecutive annual record in 2018

Carlos Gomes, senior economist and auto industry specialist, Scotiabank.
 Toronto, Ontario — January 30, 2018 — Global car sales are expected to gather speed in 2018, to a ninth consecutive annual record. A further acceleration in economic growth across all regions and healthy financial conditions are expected to extend the sales cycle further.
“Stronger economic growth and replacement demand are expected to drive sales higher in North America and Western Europe during 2018,” said Carlos Gomes, senior economist and auto industry specialist, Scotiabank. “We also anticipate that developing markets, which accounted for more than 85 percent of the increase in global sales last year, will continue to lead growth going forward.”
Sales in the key U.S. market are projected to climb to 17.4 mn units this year, bolstered by strengthening economic growth, accelerating income gains, and the best vehicle affordability that has been observed in the past decade. Americans continue to drive their vehicles more than ever, at a time when the age of the vehicle fleet is at record highs. Roughly 40 percent of the U.S. fleet is at least thirteen years old, which means there are more than 100 mn cars and light trucks on the road in the U.S. that will have to be scrapped over the next several years.
Canadian purchases climbed to a record 2.04 mn units last year alongside stronger-than-expected economic growth and job creation. However, some moderation in employment and income growth combined with decreasing affordability are likely to reduce Canadian car and light truck purchases to 2 mn units in 2018, the second-highest level on record.  
In developing markets, China remained a key driver of global sales gains, but its share of global growth has moderated to less than 40 percent last year, from roughly 60 percent since 2008. China’s share of global sales gains will likely decline to less than 30 percent in 2018, as other developing markets shift to the forefront of growth and account for more than half of the increase in global sales.
Developing markets in Asia, excluding China, are projected to lead with the highest growth rates this year as volumes are likely to jump ten percent year over year, the best performance since 2010. Several Asian countries, including Thailand and the Philippines, reported double-digit sales gains last year and are expected to remain on this pace in 2018. The advance is expected to broaden as stronger economic growth and increased export momentum boost labour markets and incomes.
Other highlights:
Traditional-engine models still account for 99 percent of overall global sales, and are expected to continue to garner more than 90 percent of the global market in a decade.
Sales in Western Europe are projected to increase to 14.5 mn units in 2018, bolstered by the strongest economic growth of the past decade.
Car sales in South America jumped 14 percent last year after three consecutive annual declines. Strengthening economic activity and rising commodity prices will likely keep South America among the growth leaders in 2018.
Read the full Scotiabank Global Auto Report online at: bm.scotiabank.com/scpt/gbm/scotiaeconomics63/GAR_2018-01-30.pdf.

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