China continues to drive global car sales recovery, notably through strong pickup sales.
Global Light Vehicle sales data for August 2020 has now been released by LMC Automotive. It shows a return to double-digit year-on-year drop after reducing to -6.8% in July: down -10.3% to 6.406.266 units vs. 7.140.674 in August 2019, a loss of over 730.000 units for the month vs. just under 500.000 in July and 1.4 million in June. The YTD global tally is now down -22.2% (vs. -24.6% last month) to 46.225.817 vs. 59.389.523 over the same period in 2019, a ghastly loss of almost 13.2 million vehicles over the past eight months. Like in June and July, LMC warns that although lockdown measures are now fairly loose in many parts of the world, the risk of reintroduction of more restrictive and widespread measures cannot be ruled out, especially as a second wave of infections has been creeping up in parts of Western Europe. In many markets, pent-up demand accumulated during lockdowns has for the most part dried out, showing the true level of recovery. This appears especially valid in Western Europe.
One of the main interests of LMC Automotive reports, and the reason why we are relating them on here, is the calculation of a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Selling Rate (SAAR) for each region. The global SAAR has seen wild fluctuations in 2020: from 88.5 million in January to 66 million in February, 57 million in March, 49.04 million in April (a 22-year low), 61.25 million in May, 75.6 million in June and 85.73 million in July. The global August SAAR stands at 88.06 million, meaning we are now a smidge below the January level which wasn’t yet affected by the pandemic. The year-to-date global 2020 SAAR now stands at 72.27 million vs. 69.26 million last month, down -20% on 2019 actuals of 90.32 million. Our Live COVID-19 Dashboard has 2020 forecasts for 15 major markets.
Looking at the detail by region, China (+8.6%) looks like the only market in positive in August in the LMC table above – keep in mind it only includes Light Vehicles and adds estimated imports, but our Live COVID-19 Dashboard shows India (+19.6%) also operating a spectacular u-turn, and we have reported additional Asian markets back in positive such as Pakistan (+14.9%) and Malaysia (+3%). China’s August SAAR drops slightly from 30.7 million in July to 29.5 million, still vastly above its level of the past two years. South Korea (-2%) and Eastern Europe (-2.3%) tilt into negative but contain their loss. In contrast, the USA (-19.1%), Western Europe (-17.4%), Japan (-15.6%) and Canada (-11.8%) all post steeper year-on-year falls than last month, but again Latin America remains the worst affected region in the world, with Argentina down -32.6%, Mexico off -28.6% and Brazil down -25.1% according to LMC data as well as Chile down -42.4% and Colombia off -43.2%, We have note isolated pockets of dramatically worsened markets, mostly related to renewed restrictions such as in Romania (-51.3%), Greece (-28.6%) and Australia (-28.8%).