Italy exits list of world's biggest car markets. Where is India placed?

Shift towards electric mobility, pandemic, shortage of components and several other factors are changing the dynamics of automobile markets the world
Car sales have increased globally in 2021 but the increase isn't seen in every major automobile market. (File photo used for representational purpose)
Car sales have increased globally in 2021 but the increase isn't seen in every major automobile market. (File photo used for representational purpose)

Italy is home to some of the most iconic automobile brands and has been closely associated with the conceptualization and development of many technologies and products - in the super premium, premium and mass-market segments. The market here has long held a place of prominence on a global stage but not any longer. According to numbers crunched by UK's Motor1, Italy dropped out of the list of top-10 biggest car markets in terms of sales of light vehicles in 2021. Light vehicles are the largest-selling crop of passenger cars and as such, the exit is likely comprehensive.

Recent years have dramatically changed the equations in the global automotive industry because of the prevailing, often unprecedented situations. The Covid-19 pandemic has been raging on since the early parts of 2020 while the crippling shortage of semiconductor chip too is having an effect. The shift towards electric vehicles and the volatility of international crude oil prices are two other major factors determining buyer preferences. Data reveals that while around 82 million passenger vehicles were sold the world over in 2021, a five per cent rise vis-a-vis 2020, some countries like Italy fared weaker.

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The curious case of Italian automobile market

The Italian car market was the 12th largest, as per data based on global sales of light vehicles in 2021 compiled by Motor1. The country saw around two million sales and was placed behind Russia but managed to stay in front of Mexico. This is a shift of tectonic proportions because the Italian market has traditionally always found a place in the top 10.

Sales have dipped not just in Italy but in markets like Germany, France, UK and Spain as well even if most of these countries still figure in the list of top 10. Experts say that stringent emission norms in many of these countries means that either governments are prioritizing mass transit options, electric vehicles, or both. In the case of electric vehicles, a large majority of people may either still not be able to afford one or want to wait it out longer.

China fires on all cylinders

China remains the world's largest automotive market, both in terms of production and in sales. And by quite a distance. The country saw an estimated 26.3 million vehicles sold in 2021, a rise of four per cent from 2020. And this is still significantly higher than the around 15 million vehicles sold in the US last year. The US is placed second but China's boost to electric vehicles is likely to help the market here extend the lead over other markets.

India remains steady

There have been numerous challenges for the Indian automobile industry, some from even before pandemic times. The shift to BS 6 emission norms were followed by the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic while the semiconductor shortage remains omnipresent. The ground reality is that while demand for passenger cars here remains robust, as per Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, the production and supply isn't exactly able to keep pace. Nonetheless, India is still the world's fourth-largest car market, behind Japan and ahead of Germany, France, UK, Brazil and South Korea.

First Published Date: 15 Apr 2022, 10:06 AM IST

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