Global car maker profits dipped 11% in 2019

Elsewhere, the US and European automotive markets began to show signs of stagnation after a long period of continued growth. Muñoz said, however: “Unlike China, the European and American car markets are mature ones, so this level of fluctuation can be considered within the normal range.”

Each manufacturer’s situation varies, however, and Muñoz told Autocar that Nissan in particular was impacted by a variety of factors in 2019, including an 8% drop in sales, heavy investment in electrification (which is less profitable than combustion) and internal issues stemming from its relationship with Renault.  

The report also calls attention to the long-running US-China trade war, which has seen tariffs imposed on Chinese-built cars in America, and diminished demand for US-built cars in China. The two markets accounted for a combined 42% of global vehicle sales in 2019. 

Uncertainty in key Asian and Middle Eastern markets, including India, Iran, Argentina and Turkey, was also a factor in the global slump. Some 5.1 million vehicles were sold in those four countries last year, down 21% from 2018, with Tata Motors – India’s largest manufacturer – recording a 23% decline in sales. 

In terms of volume, the VW Group topped the charts in 2019, selling 10,975,000 units compared to Toyota’s 10,742,000. Both brands increased their sales by 1% year-on-year.

The next biggest manufacturer, General Motors, was some way behind with 7,718,000 sales, which was 8% short of its 2018 figures. 

Tesla increased its sales 50% in 2019, selling 368,000 units worldwide – a result of the global rollout of the Model 3, its most affordable model yet. Tesla was also one of only two brands (including Ferrari) to post double-digit profit growth. 

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