All autos Dec12.pngAuto sales continue to struggle in 3 of the world’s main markets. The chart shows combined sales by month in China, US, EU, Japan and India. These were 76% of global demand in 2011. Overall, volume is up 6% versus last year:

• China’s sales are up 7% at 13.1m, as its economy remains slow
• US sales are up 14% to 13.1m, as consumers use cheap credit to replace ageing cars
• EU sales are now back at 1993 levels, with 2012 volumes down 8% to 11.2m
• Japan’s post-earthquake recovery is slowing, with sales 4.2m and November sales flat
• India is also slowing, with sales 2.3m and November volumes down 8%

This maintains the stop-start sequence of recent years, where overall 2008 volumes were down 7%, followed by 0% gain in 2009. Then 2010 saw a 10% gain, only to disappoint last year with sales up only 2%. And meantime, auto makers continue to invest in new capacity. The main expansion is in China, which is now focused on building export sales to utilise its new factories.

Its auto exports are expected to hit 1m for the first time this year, with volumes by the end of October already higher than 2011’s total. Its main markets are currently Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Russia and Chile. But whilst other automakers remain complacent, the competitive threat is growing as analysts JD Power say China is poised to match Western quality standards by 2018.