Home > World > World 2012 – The 20 biggest car markets: Thailand shoots up!

World 2012 – The 20 biggest car markets: Thailand shoots up!

Bangkok Thailand 2012The Thai new car market is up 81% in 2012.

* See the Top 20 biggest car markets in the world by clicking on the title! *

Now that pretty much all 2012 figures are in, I thought I would write a little summary of the 20 biggest car markets in the world, to put a bit of perspective on all the data on this site... To me the striking element in this ranking is a lot of markets we have been calling 'emerging' have emerged long ago and are now fighting with the big boys. For example, each country within the BRIC lodges a record year in 2012: China stays in the lead by far with 19.3 million new vehicles, Brazil is #4 at 3.6 million, Russia #6 at 2.9 million and India #7 at 2.65 million...

Sydney Australia 2012bAustralia reaches an all-time high in 2012. Photo by Jong Soo Lee, all rights reserved.

Notice also the excellent health of the main Anglo-saxon markets: the USA is up 13% to 14.5 million, its best year since 2007, the UK is up 5% to 2.04 million, Canada up 6% to 1.68 million and now within the Top 10 biggest markets in the world and Australia delivers an all-time record at 1.1 million, up 9% on 2011... Note Canada and Australia are the countries among this Top 20 that buy the most new cars per inhabitants: both at 48 per thousand vs. 46 for the USA and 32 for the UK.

Bali Indonesia December 2012bIndonesia joins the millionaire club in 2012. Picture by my dear Dad.

But the big event this year is the arrival for the first time in the history of automobile of not one but two South-East Asian markets in the millionaire club. Thailand is by far the most impressive, up a huge 81% to reach 1.44 million sales, shooting up from #20 in 2011 to #12 in 2012 and passing significant markets like Italy and Iran in the process. Indonesia is the 2nd one, up 25% to 1.1 million at #14, and when you know that only 5 new cars per thousand inhabitants were sold in that market last year you can appreciate its growth potential...

Other notable movements include Japan up 28% to over 5.7 million units thanks to government subsidies on fuel-efficient cars, Iran dropping out of the millionaire club at -36% and Saudi Arabia breaking into the Top 20, replacing Spain.

Previous year: World 2011 - The 20 biggest car markets: Russia on the up!

Full Year 2012 Top 20 car markets Ranking Table below.

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Categories: World
  1. David
    February 20th, 2013 at 04:30 | #1

    @mikey

    Some of these questions are good but some are silly. Of course kei cars are included in Japan’s total. What do you think, they’re not considered cars? To work out California’s sales you could do a bit of maths which would tell you that CA is 12% of the US population, and 12% of 14.4M = 1.75M, which would put California about 10th on the list.

  2. mikey
    February 20th, 2013 at 04:25 | #2

    Hi Matt,
    very interesting info. Thanks for posting.

    A couple of comments and curious thoughts:
    1) Does China includes light commercial vehicles? And 3 wheeler’s?
    2) I assume Japan includes Kei cars?
    3) Where does California come on the list if it was a country?

    I’m not expecting you to have the following but would fun to know:
    4) % of each country’s sales by private individuals, rather than fleet sales (corporations, government and rental car companies etc).
    5) % of new car sales vs used car sales for each country
    6) is there another list for motorbike, scooter and electric bike sales? This would be huge for S and SE Asian countries.

    Keep up the great work!

    • matgasnier
      February 20th, 2013 at 10:09 | #3

      Hi Mikey,
      Here are the answers to your questions:
      1) Yes and no
      2) Yes
      3) You should check out the California page on this site: 1,617,103
      4) In Europe sales to private individuals account for 40 to 60% of the market
      5) and 6) This information is not readily available
      Hope this helps,
      cheers,
      Matt

  3. sdheadb
    February 17th, 2013 at 07:29 | #4

    Which cars are building in Saudi Arabia? Have you got any information?

  4. February 17th, 2013 at 04:46 | #5

    @HVM

    No worries, I considered that during editing. I’ve only used the data for China and specified that it was only an estimation. I only wanted to stress the (estimated) 1% growth, it was an anomaly that couldn’t just go unnoticed. Cheers !

  5. HVM
    February 17th, 2013 at 02:33 | #6

    @Aero
    Are you aware the numbers are not 100% accurate because some exclude light commercial vehicles?

  6. February 16th, 2013 at 23:29 | #7

    * relay this data

  7. February 16th, 2013 at 23:29 | #8

    HI MATT I LOVE YOUR WEBSITE YOURE DOING A GREAT JOB I LOVE CARS AND THESE SALES DATA I SEE YOU ARE AN AUSSIE ON YOUR TWITTER ACCOUNT WHERE DO YOU GET TIME TO DO THIS GREAT SITE DO YOU ALSO WATCH RUGBY THE NEW SUPER RUGBY IS STARTING VERY SOON HAVE A NICE DAY

    • matgasnier
      February 17th, 2013 at 09:56 | #9

      Thanks very much for your praise JF I really appreciate it!
      Cheers,
      Matt

  8. February 16th, 2013 at 23:28 | #10

    Hi Matt,

    This summary idea of yours is quite simply genius ! I’m gonna replay this data to Wikipedia with full references to your website ! It’s invaluable data. :]

    I also cant believe how much Thailand progressed in just 1 year, very very admirable ! And it’s nice to see Britain in the positive zone despite the European economic crisis as of late.

    I hope I’m not asking too much, but a Top 30 would be really, really appreciated as a lot of other significant markets in Europe and Asia were sadly, left out.

    In any case, thanks again for the quality articles !

    • matgasnier
      February 17th, 2013 at 09:56 | #11

      Hi Aero,
      Glad you like it!
      Cheers,
      Matt

  9. David
    February 16th, 2013 at 16:46 | #12

    @David

    nevermind.

  10. David
    February 16th, 2013 at 16:44 | #13

    It would also be interesting to see another column showing vehicles sold per capita.

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