2021 Global Automotive Sales Trends

Globally, the UK remains in the top 10 for automotive sales – but in 2021, its market for new passenger cars sunk to an all-time low, with a decrease of 28.7% on pre-pandemic numbers.

As discussed in our previous blog, the pandemic and global semiconductor shortage had a significant impact on vehicle production last year. The proof isn’t just in local sales figures, however – the effects can be seen throughout the European automotive industry and beyond.

New car sales in Europe were the worst seen since 1985.

Dropping a further 1.7% from 2020 – which was already a very poor year – Europe’s struggles were underlined by a decline in the usually booming German market.

German sales slumped 10.1% on 2021. This was largely due to COVID-19 impacting production of key Volkswagen models, which also slowed its progress in the thriving EV market.

Which countries had the best automotive sales in 2021?

Chinese Traffic - MAT Foundry

Despite the declining figures across various nations, the picture for total sales (across all segments, globally) depicts some success…

  1. China 21.12m (+1.6%)
  2. US 15.03m (+3.5%)
  3. Japan 3.65m (-4.1%)
  4. India 3.10m (+26.8%)
  5. Germany 2.62m (-10.1%)
  6. Canada 1.67m (+7.7%)
  7. France 1.66m (+0.6%)
  8. UK 1.65m (1.0%)
  9. Brazil 1.59m (-3.5%)
  10. Russia 1.53m (+3.7%)

On the international stage, China dominated.

Sales of passenger cars from Chinese brands surged 23.1% year-on-year in 2021, with the annual export of Chinese automobiles exceeding 2 million units for the first time.

Meanwhile, India also had a stand-out year, as sales grew 27% and crossed the 3-million mark for only the third time in history.

Which cars were the most popular in 2021?

Ford Car Sales 2021 - MAT Foundry

As always, tastes and trends around the world are a mixed bag.

For North Americans (who, as seen above, experienced solid growth in 2021), the SUV and pickup truck is king. Despite experiencing supply issues, the Ford F-Series kept its 40-year top spot in the US, shifting 726,004 units.

By contrast, European drivers have a penchant for smaller cars. In France, this is demonstrated by the native Peugeot 208 holding the top spot, with the ever-popular city runner selling a relatively modest 88 013 units.

Meanwhile, Japan also saw a domestic brand take poll position. The Toyota Yaris supermini shifted nearly 213,000 units, indicative of the country’s continued automotive success.

Toyota has proven international popularity, too. As the number-one marque in the world, it overtook Volkswagen for the second consecutive year and sold 9.56 million vehicles globally.

As diesel sales slip away (they dropped a huge -48.1% in the UK), the electric vehicle segment continues to gain momentum. Just four years after launch, the Tesla Model 3 – which was the UK’s number two after the ever-popular Corsa – broke into the top five bestsellers globally.

Although it’s perhaps a little too early to tell what 2022 could bring, it’s clear that trends in the automotive market are changing – with EV technology set to have an even bigger dominance worldwide.

MAT Foundry group are a leading manufacturer of grey and ductile iron car components, assisting the automotive sector to develop and grow. To learn more about us view our products or contact us today.

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