North America provided a bit of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy February, as global vehicle sales suffered their worst decline in 24 months.
Worldwide, automakers delivered 6.27 million units, a 1.7% decline from same-month 2014. Continued declines in South America and Russia, and a relatively rare downturn in the Asia-Pacific region were key contributors to the global fall-off.
Sales in South America plummeted 25% from last year, to 315,000 vehicles, marking the 12th consecutive monthly year-to-year decrease for the region.
Brazil’s count fell 28.3%, Chile’s was down 28.4% and Argentina deliveries dropped 19.6%. Venezuela was an exception to the regional slide, posting a 59.6% gain, but the country accounted for less than 1% of that market.
In the Asia-Pacific region deliveries declined 2.8%, the region’s first negative result in 24 months. The February total was 3,070,000 units, bringing the year-to-date result to 6,877,000 vehicles, 0.2% above like-2014.
Sales in China, the world’s largest market, held close to last year, down just 0.2%. Registrations in Japan, the region’s second-largest market, dropped 14.7%. As in South America, the countries posting double-digit gains in the region (Pakistan, Vietnam, and Singapore) are relatively small markets.
Europe slipped 0.3% from last year, with deliveries totaling 1,304,000 units.
Year-over-year gains in four of the region’s top five markets largely were offset by a 39.2% decline in Russia. Portugal had the greatest year-over-year growth, shooting up 31.2%, while Ukraine experienced a region-worst 79.4% decline.
Sales in North America were up 6.4% to nearly 1.5 million units, marking the region’s best February since 2002.
Mexico’s 22.1% volume boost, on just over 100,000 deliveries, was North America’s largest February gain and brought the country’s year-to-date total to 21.8% over like-2014. The U.S., meanwhile, accounted for the bulk of the month’s volume growth, with sales rising 5.6% to 1.28 million units. Canada completed the regional trifecta, with a 3.6% sales gain on 112,000 deliveries.
Global sales through the first two months of 2015 reached 13.19 million vehicles, a slim 0.8% improvement over same-period year-ago.