Automotive markets

The continuation of below-average global economic dynamism in the year 2015 was also reflected by the development of global demand for cars. The increase of about 3 % in demand worldwide is to be regarded as quite solid with currently strong markets, whereby regional differences were very substantial. While China and the traditional markets of the United States and Western Europe followed a relatively positive development, demand was very weak in some major emerging markets. (See graphic B.06)

B.06 Global automotive markets

From a very strong starting point, the US market grew again by nearly 6 %, surpassing its previous record from the year 2000 with sales of approximately 17.5 million cars and light trucks. Demand in Western Europe also developed very positively. The market recovery that had started in 2014 became more dynamic and led to significant growth of about 9 %. It must be emphasized that this market growth took place on a broad basis: double-digit growth was recorded in Spain and Italy while the three major markets of Germany, the United Kingdom and France each posted significant growth of between 6 and 7 %.

The initial impression of the Chinese car market is still positive, with growth of approximately 9 % and the biggest contribution in absolute terms to the increased worldwide volume. But these figures conceal the significant period of weakness that the market went through during the summer months. The Chinese government finally initiated countermeasures, granting tax reductions on the purchase of small cars with engine displacement of up to 1.6 liters, which were subsequently responsible for the aforementioned market growth.

The Japanese car market contracted by approximately 10 %, after demand had been kept artificially high for several years as a result of measures taken by the government. With the exception of China, the major emerging markets displayed very differing tendencies. The Indian market grew significantly while demand for cars slumped in Brazil and Russia. Deep economic recessions in both countries resulted in market slumps of about 25 % in Brazil and even 35 % in Russia, thus dampening the worldwide volume growth.

Worldwide demand for medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks came under considerable pressure last year and fell by approximately 11 %. This decrease was also primarily due to the drastic contraction of some major emerging markets, which was not offset by the positive development of the North American and European markets.

The North American market proved once again to be robust in Classes 6-8 with overall growth of approximately 11 %. But a weakening of the market’s dynamism was to be observed as the year progressed, at first in industrial orders received and towards the end of the year also in sales figures.

The European market developed significantly better than at the beginning of 2015. In a comparatively favorable economic environment, it grew by approximately 17 %. The Turkish market weakened significantly following a positive start to the year, but grew in the full year by approximately 9 % due to purchases brought forward because of the upcoming introduction of the Euro VI emissions standard. On the other hand, demand for trucks in Brazil slumped drastically because of the severe economic recession, falling to about half the volume of 2014; the market was additionally weakened towards the end of the year by the continued worsening of financing possibilities in the context of the government’s FINAME program.

From Daimler’s perspective, the main Asian markets were rather mixed. The Japanese market for light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks remained close to its solid prior-year level despite weak economic dynamism. Indonesia, however, was affected by the growth slowdown in China and by falling raw-material prices, which resulted in a contraction of 32 % in the overall truck market. Demand in India developed positively, with growth of about 10 % in the market for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

With a drop of more than 40 %, demand for trucks in Russia decreased substantially due to the country’s economic recession. And China, the world’s biggest truck market, contracted by almost 30 %.

Demand for vans in Western Europe continued to grow in 2015. The market volume increased by 11 % for mid-size and large vans and by 8 % for small vans. In particular, the markets of the countries of southern Europe recovered significantly, and distinct growth was apparent also in Germany. In the United States, the market for large vans continued to develop very positively with growth of 14 %. In China, however, there was significant contraction of the market segment we address there. Due to the unfavorable economic situation, the market for large vans in Latin America also contracted sharply.

The bus market of Western Europe significantly surpassed its weak prior-year level. There was positive impetus in particular from the coach segment, which profited from expansion of the business of long-distance buses in Germany. Demand in Eastern Europe was at the prior-year level, with support from the growing coach segment in Turkey. As a result of the difficult economic and political situation in Latin America, market conditions there deteriorated significantly. In Brazil alone, market volume decreased by 40 % compared with 2014.

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