Global new-car sales to hit record again

CARY, N.C. - 

You can expect to see nearly 96 million new-car sales across the globe this year, which would represent slower growth but still a record tally.

That’s according to a global forecast released Jan. 11 by IHS Markit.

Full-year results from 2017 were expected to show 94.5 million new-car sales, which would be a 2.4 percent year-over-year increase and an all-time high.

For now, at least.

IHS is calling for 95.9 million new-car sales globally this year, which would represent 1.5-percent growth.

“While this forecast reflects a slight moderation, it is concerning to us,” said Henner Lehne, IHS Markit’s executive director of global vehicle forecasting, in a news release. “We expect 2018 will be yet another record-setting year for the global auto industry, up 1.5 percent from 2017.”

Western Europe strong; UK slows, but still robust   

IHS goes on to spotlight several regional projections, including Western Europe, which is expected to reach 16.3 million new-car sales in 2018 for a 0.7-percent hike. This region’s recovery is pushed by “lingering pent-up demand in key recovery markets,” according to IHS, though that recovery has subsided a great deal.

“Some markets have OEM diesel incentives, which are expected to generate mild pulled-forward demand, although buyers are not exactly queuing around the block at local dealerships …,” IHS noted.

One country in the region where sales softened last year is the U.K.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders there, the 2.54 million new-car sales last year represented a decrease of 5.7 percent — the first time since 2011 that sales have softened.

That said, 2017 was still the third-best annual sum of U.K. new-car sales in the past decade, SMMT said.

Not to mention, SMMT points out that UK’s new-car market is second only to Germany in the European Union.

“The decline in the new-car market is concerning, but it’s important to remember demand remains at historically high levels. More than 2.5 million people drove away in a new car last year, benefitting from the latest, safest, cleanest and most fuel efficient technology,” SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, SMMT said in a news release.  

“Falling business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly taking a toll, however, and confusing anti-diesel messages have caused many to hesitate before buying a new low emission diesel car. Keeping older vehicles on the road will not only mean higher running costs but will hold back progress towards our environmental goals,” he said. “Consumers should be encouraged to buy the right car for their lifestyle and driving needs irrespective of fuel type – whether that be petrol, electric, hybrid or diesel as it could save them money.

“2017 has undoubtedly been a very volatile year and the lackluster economic growth means that we expect a further weakening in the market for 2018. The upside for consumers, however, is some very, very competitive deals," he added. 

Opportunity elsewhere?

And it may mean opportunity in other areas of dealer business, including aftersales. In a , Incadea UK managing director Paul Humphreys said: "While the used-car market is performing strongly, it has been a challenging time for new, and for many dealers, this has hit their bottom line.

“However, there is a huge opportunity for dealers to counter this downturn and increase profitability through improving their aftersales service.

“Reviewing service capabilities not only helps the sales process by making it more appealing to new customers, it is also a significant retention opportunity for existing customers, and certainly should not be overlooked. At present, we believe dealerships are not speaking loudly enough about their capabilities, and as such, they are missing key opportunities to maximize profit.”


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