India surpassed Japan in car sales last year to become the third-largest car market for the first time, according to the latest industry data, Nikkei Asia reported on Friday.
According to preliminary results, new car sales in India reached at least 4.25 million units, surpassing Japan’s 4.2 million units.
According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, the total number of new vehicle deliveries in India for the January-November 2022 period stands at 4.13 million units. Combined with the December sales reported by India’s largest automaker Maruti Suzuki on Sunday, the total was about 4.25 million units.
Sales in India are expected to rise further with the upcoming release of fourth-quarter commercial vehicle sales figures and yet-to-be-announced year-end results from Tata Motors and other automakers, Nikkei Asia reported.
In 2021, China will continue to lead the global auto market, with sales of 26.27 million vehicles. The United States ranked second with 15.4 million vehicles, followed by Japan with 4.44 million vehicles.
According to Nikkei Asia, the Indian auto market has fluctuated greatly in recent years. Some 4.4 million vehicles were sold in 2018, but sales fell below 4 million in 2019, largely because of a credit crunch that hit the non-bank sector that year.
When the Covid pandemic triggered a nationwide lockdown in 2020, car sales plummeted further to below 3 million. Sales will rebound to close to 4 million units in 2021, but a shortage of automotive chips will weigh on growth.
Gasoline-powered vehicles, including hybrids, accounted for the majority of new cars sold in India last year, Nikkei Asia said, adding that electric vehicles were virtually non-existent. Cars in the Indian market use fewer semiconductors than cars sold in advanced economies.
According to Nikkei Asia, the easing of the automotive chip crunch in 2022 provides a springboard for recovery. Along with Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and other Indian automakers, sales also rose last year.
India, with a population of 1.4 billion, is expected to overtake China sometime this year and continue to grow until the early 2060s. Income is also rising.
According to British research firm Euromonitor, only 8.5% of Indian households will own a passenger car by 2021, meaning there is plenty of room for sales growth. With oil imports leading to a trade deficit, the government has started subsidizing electric vehicles.
Japan sold 4,201,321 vehicles last year, down 5.6% from 2021, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association and the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association.
Nikkei Asia said the omicron epidemic and China’s lockdown had sharply sapped output, leaving automakers unable to meet demand.
According to Nikkei Asia, car sales in Japan peaked in 1990 at 7.77 million units, meaning sales have fallen by almost half from their all-time high. And the country’s declining population offers little hope of a significant recovery in sales for the foreseeable future.
According to Nikkei Asia, in 2006 China surpassed Japan to become the second largest auto market, and in 2009 China surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest auto market.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)
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