Global vehicle sales reached a record high of 8.5 million units in March, passing the previous best, set in March 2012, by about 300,000 units. The current tally sits 4.1% higher than year-ago and is over 2 million units more than the prior month’s total.
All regions posted gains over March 2013 with the exception of South America, where sales plummeted 20.1% from year-ago.
South America sales reached 370,000 units in March, the lowest monthly volume since February 2010. Continuing political and economic unrest have hampered vehicle sales in the region, with weakened currency and increased taxes being the main causes.
Brazil, the region’s largest market, fell for the first time in three months, down 15.2% to 240,807 units. Argentina, Venezuela and Chile also reported declines in the month, off 35.6%, 86.1% and 3.3%, respectively. Uruguay was the region’s lone bright spot with sales up 2.7%.
Increased deliveries in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region overshadowed the sharp South American decline, keeping overall world sales in positive territory.
The Asia-Pacific region climbed 3.4% in March, with volume reaching an all-time high of 3.9 million units, buoyed by record-breaking results in China and increased sales in other countries due to the completion of the fiscal year for most Asian automakers.
Sales in China rose to 2.17 million units in March, accounting for 56.1% of the region’s total deliveries. Japan (+11.4%) and South Korea (+5.4%) also posted gains in the month, while India (-11.6%) and Pakistan (-7.6%) witnessed sales declines.
In March, the Asia-Pacific region held a 45.2% share of the world market.
North American deliveries climbed as well in March, up 5.2% to 1.8 million units, with all three countries reporting growth over like-2013.
Sales in the U.S. totaled 1.6 million units, up 5.9% over year-ago. This was the largest year-over-year increase for the country since November and likely was spurred by growth in both CUVs and luxury makes.
Deliveries in Mexico also rose in March, up 2.5% to 87,974, while sales in Canada remained nearly flat with 160,261 vehicles sold, up only 0.2%.
Europe recorded the largest year-over-year growth among regions in March with sales rising 7.1% to 2.1 million units, accounting for 24.3% of world sales. This was the first month that volume exceeded 2 million units since March 2012 when sales reached 2.13 million.
Germany (+5.8%), France (+7.0%) and several other large markets posted significant sales gains in the month, while Russia continued to struggle, falling 0.8%, marking the third straight decline for the country.
Through March, 22.0 million vehicles were sold worldwide, up 4.3% from like-2013.