China accounted for one quarter of all car sales worldwideIn 2017, all major car companies achieved positive results. All eyes are on the Chinese market, but the European market is also growing (+3.3%)
As one of the main target segments of leather, the automotive industry is certainly one of the brightest and most dynamic. At the top of the range, consumers’ preference for leather seats is now a fact that is guiding the choices of all car brands that compete to offer more prestigious and elegant upholstery and fittings. This expansive trend is increasingly pushing tanneries and suppliers of chemical auxiliaries towards this market, which is very difficult and demanding in terms of technical requirements requested, as well known by suppliers who already work there. The market nevertheless is moving in this direction and it is therefore interesting to look at the latest sales figures of the sector to try to understand the development prospects for the near future.
In 2017, for the first time, sales of cars and commercial vehicles worldwide exceeded 90 million units, of which 25% were registered in China. 24.7 million cars were sold in the former Celestial Empire last year, about four times more than in 2008. As for luxury cars, the major car brands planned investments on the Chinese market and reported double-digit increases, primarily the German giants, Mercedes (+25.9%) and BMW (+15%).
According to the Promotor Research Centre managed by Gian Primo Quagliano: “The world car market has been going through an uninterrupted phase of growth since 2010. The sector’s development prospects are further boosted by the fact that the strong technological innovations characterising cars over the last decade are attracting motorists and will continue to do so in the coming years with the arrival of self-driving cars”.
The figures for the US market show sales in line with the previous year, estimated at around 17 million vehicles, and the forecasts for 2018 are based on caution rather than growth, but experts predict more registrations in the luxury segment.
Meanwhile, the positive trend of the European market continues. According to data released by ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, 15.6 million new cars were registered in Europe in 2017, half a million more than the previous year (+3.3%).
The performances of the main car groups were positive, with Volkswagen ending the year with more than three and a half million registrations in Europe, an increase of 2.3%, driven mainly by the sales of Seat and Skoda, and Fiat Chrysler recording an increase of 4.9%, with sales exceeding one million units last year and positive figures for all brands except Lancia. The BMW Group declared that 2017 was its best year ever.
On positive territory was also the Renault Group (+6.7%) while the PSA Group, with strong Opel sales, starting from July, and a market share of 12.2%, was ranked as the second largest company in Europe after the Germans. Among the Asian companies, Toyota achieved the most significant growth, equal to 13%, and increased its market share from 4.1 to 4.5.
As for the individual European markets, net of the performance of the United Kingdom which ended the year with a decline of 5.7%, registrations in other markets remained positive, with Germany ending the year with +2.7%, France with +4.7%, Spain with +7.7% and Italy with +7.9% compared to 2016, which was the best performance among the five main European countries.
Joining the United Kingdom in negative territory are only Denmark (-0.5%), Finland (-0.4%) and Ireland (-10.4%), while all the other European countries are in positive territory.
“The Italian car market,” commented Romano Valente, General Manager of UNRAE, The Association of Foreign Car Makers, “has been growing for four years now, and in 2017 it realigned itself to its real potential, bringing us back to the volumes of 2010, even if with new variations.”