• September confirmed as the strongest month of the year for global light vehicle sales, but patchy performance much in evidence
The month of September marked solid market recovery overall, but performance across nations was varied

The month of September marked solid market recovery overall, but performance across nations was varied

As was posited two weeks ago in our early take on September's light vehicle sales the month has proved to be the strongest of the year. September has proved to be a welcome relief after the SAAR rate slipped in August. As it was, September's SAAR managed to sneak past the year's previous high of 87.6m recorded in July with a SAAR of 88m. Global sales just managed a year-on-year gain of 0.2%.

Sales progression was not uniform. Furthermore, we believe that September will be the high-point of the year, with October and November forecast to slip to August's selling rate of 83-84m. We believe there will be a seasonal rally in December with a SAAR of some 87m forecast.

But back to September's patchy performance. Taken individually, none of the five regions covered – Asia Pacific, Europe, MEA, North America or South America – managed to post a year high SAAR. It was the collective that mattered in giving the best SAAR of the year.

Region by region the results were as follows for September:

  • Asia Pacific: SAAR of 4.08m, with the year's highpoint SAAR being recorded in July at 4.27m as sales fell back 1.2% year on year
  • Europe: Here sales increased 5.5% year-on-year, but despite this increase the selling rate of 2.13m was just short of July's high of 2.18m
  • MEA: A SAAR of 2.58m was recorded, with sales falling 17.9% year on year. The selling rate was some way off the 3.0m+ levels recorded in January and February
  • North America: Sales increased 3.8% year-on-year for a SAAR of 19.47m, which was not enough to top the February highpoint of 21.6m
  • South America: Sales fell back 12.4% year-on-year, giving a monthly selling rate of 3.89m. Like North America, South America's high watermark for SAAR was February when a rate of 4.5m was recorded

Apparent in each of the regions was the relative strength of the most significant markets. Without fail, GlobalData's pareto markets (those that account for over 80% of a region's sales) and the markets on which our forecast modelling is based, outperformed the more marginal markets. For example, Asia's four major markets – China, Japan, India and South Korea – increased sales 2.6% year-on-year against the region's overall 1.2% decline.

This is further proof that the larger vehicle markets, and the de facto larger economies, are more resilient in the face of the economic battering Covid-19 has brought. This is probably not such a great surprise in itself, but it is a useful reminder that social and economic resources to fight the pandemic are not equal.