Big surprises in global vehicle sales rankings by country in 2022. According to preliminary data for 78 countries around the world, the global volume was down by 2% to 78.49 million units (passenger cars and light commercial vehicles). Consequently, the estimated total including the missing markets would be around 81.5 million units.

The top 10 showed interesting changes compared to 2021. While China and USA kept their positions as the first and second largest markets, the third position was occupied by India for the first time ever. The strong demand growth following better deals and more appealing cars available contributed to the 24% increase posted by the market overall.

This is by far the best result in terms of movement within the global top 10. The historic fact was that India outsold Japan for the first time. Historically, Japan has always been the third largest market thanks to a big local market and strong appetite for kei-cars. However, this market stopped growing many years ago while India has shown more volatile results.

World’s top 10 largest new car markets in 2022 - by volume graphic

Brazil ahead of the UK and France

The moderate drop posted by the sales of new vehicles in Brazil (-1%) helped this market to outsell the United Kingdom and France. The former recorded a 5% drop while the latter saw its volume down by 10%, the worst drop in the top 10.

The lack of confidence and new cars in dealerships, alongside the energy crisis, explain the bad year in most of the European markets. The total there decreased by 6% to 13.71 million units including Turkey. The reduction is the same when excluding this Euro-Asian nation to 12.93 million units.

Global car sales 2022 - top 10 in Europe graphic

Italy out of the top 10

Once again, the Italian car market was out of the top 10. Unlike its European partners, the EV did not contribute to growth in Italy as the incentives were not available the whole year. While they helped to offset the big loses posted by petrol and diesel cars in countries like Germany and the UK, they could not help in Italy.

Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam shine

The majority of the markets from South-East Asia posted big increases during the year. For instance, Indonesia outsold Spain and became the 14th largest market (excluding Iran). An important fact from this market is the arrival of locally-produced BEV such as the Wuling Air EV. The demand of these cars helped and will even boost the market in 2023.

Global car sales - top 5 winners 2022 graphic

Russia shrinks

As expected, the Russian figures are quite bad. The data for last year shows that a total of 677,000 new vehicles were sold. This is 59% lower than the volume sold in 2021, right before the invasion in Ukraine.

The end of business for the majority of Western car brands meant that the offer became quite limited in times when there’s a lot of uncertainty about the war and the economy in Russia. This market was outsold by others that have been traditional mid-size ones, such as Turkey, Thailand, Australia or Mexico.

Global car sales - top 5 losers 2022 graphic

The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is an Automotive Industry Specialist at JATO Dynamics.