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Summary: 2012 sales comparison in major automobile markets worldwide

By Carmen Lee  From Gasgoo.comFebruary 21, 2013 (Shanghai) – 2012 was a year of steady growth for most major automobile markets worldwide. Most markets saw year-on-year sales growth rates increase slightly from 2011 to 2012, with a few exceptions here and there.

Among the mature automobiles markets, the world's second largest market, the US, maintained steady growth, with a total of 14.43 million automobiles sold in the country. The amount represents year-on-year growth of 13.4 percent, the highest figure reported in the country in over 20 years.

Japan suffered heavily in 2011 due to the Fukushima earthquake and rising value of the Japanese yen, leading to a sharp 18.5 percent fall in passenger automobile sales that year. Thanks to plentiful government aid and the fact that 2011 sales finished just above 2.38 million units, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association reported a year-on-year sales growth rate of 26.3 percent for the country last year. Passenger automobile sales exceeded 3.01 million units, proof that the country's market is well on its way to recovery.

The European market, however, has been bearing the brunt of the Eurozone credit crisis. According to statistics from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, passenger sales totaled 12.52 million vehicles last year, a full 7.8 percent less than 2011. 2012 marked the lowest point for European passenger automobile sales in 17 years. Among European countries, passenger automobile sales in the UK grew 5.3 percent to 2.04 million vehicles last year, surpassing France's 1.89 million vehicle sales and falling just short of Germany's 3.08 million vehicle sales. France and Italy both reported year-on-year sales falls of 13.9 percent and 19.9 percent, respectively.

Russia's performance was by far the strongest among the four BRIC countries. Although its year-on-year growth rate fell from the 38.7 percent reported in 2011, it was still in the double digits. A total of 2.93 million light vehicles were sold in the country last year.

Year-on-year growth rates in the Chinese, Brazilian and Indian automobile markets were all under ten percent. Due to poor economic conditions in Brazil, only a total of 3.63 million light vehicles were sold in the country last year. 13.25 million vehicles were sold in China in 2012, while 2.04 million vehicles were sold in India.

Outside of the BRIC countries, several other emerging automobile markets performed strongly last year. Thailand and Indonesia in particular did well, with both countries reporting year-on-year growth of 80 percent and 24.8 percent, respectively. Much like Japan, Thailand suffered from major natural disasters in 2011, which led to sales suffering heavily that year. Automobile sales in South Africa and Malaysia increased 8.8 percent and 4.6 percent from 2011 to 2012, respectively.

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