The figures in the rearview mirror

15-01-2018 | Redacción CEU

January is always a month for reflection. This moment becomes an ideal period to look back and gather momentum, to make an evaluation of successes and failures, to deal with the figures and data and, why not, to face the future with learned lessons. 2017 has been the year when the SUV fever consolidated, diesel dropped and the MOVALT Plan was launched. A year that has been marked by a high accident rate, also by the ups and downs in the car production. The automotive industry is an innovative sector and, therefore, in the short term, really changeable. Examining figures can be a key factor to understand how this 2018 is approaching. With what figures and data does the automobile industry say good bye to the year 2017?



When overtaking, drivers always have to check what they see on the road through their side mirrors, that way, they make sure that no vehicle suddenly appears out of nowhere. At least, this will be the rule until self-driving cars conquer the roads. Good drivers are always aware of what happens in their rearview mirrors, not only when they want to change lanes, in every moment while they drive. Just like in driving, in the business world it is always advisable to look back to achieve progressing. The numbers and data of the automotive industry can offer a key context when interpreting what can happen in the future of this business in full transformation.

Figures on perspective

The automotive industry continues to grow in Spain and the car sales balance continues being positive. The vehicle registrations in the country have risen by 7.7% compared to 2016. The cars registered number ascends to 1.23 million units, according to data provided by Anfac, Ganvam and Faconauto. A good figure but still far from the 1.61 reached in 2007. In fact, this is the first year out of five, in which the percentage of annual growth falls from a figure of two digits to one. While the private channel has increased by only 4.4% compared to last year, sales between companies and rental companies have reached 12.8% and 9.2%, respectively.

The second-hand sales have grown considerably. The figure rises to 1,964,277 units, according to Faconauto, which means a 10% increase. Something that worries about this percentage is that the average age of cars sold in this market has also grown, it is now twelve years. This has repercussions like that many of the vehicles moving on the road are more polluting and less safe than the new ones. <<This year we will continue to worry about that more than 60% of used cars marketed have more over ten years, which means that the average age of the total amount of cars, far from decreasing, will increase>> the Communication Director of Faconauto, Raúl Morales, has expressed.

The level of vehicle production was reduced at the beginning of 2017, but as the year progressed, it suffered a rebound and it has achieved to reverse the figures. The data provided by Anfac, which stops in November, shows an accumulated figure of 2.67 million vehicles. According to the experts’ estimations, this percentage would rise to 2.87 million units in December. Finally, the figure set by the association as the goal of three million vehicles would not have been reached, but the drift of this exercise would have been successful. This deceleration in production was mainly due to the fact that Spanish plants were forced to slow down so not to create excess stock, because main foreign markets, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, reduced the demand at the beginning of the year.

The figures in the rearview mirror

What cars appear in the mirror?

They consume more, they are bigger and they are more expensive, but none of this backs out the customers. Neither within borders, nor out of them. Nobody escapes the SUV trend, even in China it is noticeable. The Sport Utility Vehicles are versatile cars that combine the practicality of a regular car with the strength of an off-road vehicle. Its success lies in the ability of these vehicles  responding to the needs of drivers, both in the city and beyond. Although the compacts and sub-compact cars continue to lead in sales, the registration of these models does not stop growing. The most sold SUV cars in Spain this year have been the Nissan Qashqai and the Hyundai Tucson.

In 2017, the global light vehicle market reached 94.5 million units, according to Focus2move. The most sold car worldwide was the Toyota Corolla, followed by the Ford F-Series and the Volkswagen Golf. The highest growth was registered in the SUV segment with a 12% rate. In Spain the best-selling brands were Renault, Seat and Volkswagen and the models Seat Leon, Seat Ibiza, Renault Mégane and the Citroën C4. The ten best-selling cars are still the same as in 2016.

In regard to fuels, diesel experiences a downhill period and loses its strength compared to gasoline. Even so, diesel has a 48.3% of market share, in 2016 this figure reached a 56.8%. On the other hand, gasoline has reached a 46.6%. This figure is significant if one takes into account that in the last five months this fuel has surpassed diesel. Hybrids and electrics have 5.1% of the market share. Spain has exceeded for the first time the 13,000 units in electric vehicle registrations, this represents a growth of 94%. Even so, and despite the aids to purchase alternative vehicles from the MOVALT Plan, these cars only account for the 0.56% of the total market.

As a final note, it should be noted that during the year 2017 there were 1,067 fatal accidents on interurban roads, where 1,200 people died and 4,837 people were injured and hospitalized. This represents a 3% increase rate in the figures of fatal accidents and deceased. A striking fact is that the vehicles involved in these fatal accidents have an average of twelve years, a percentage that increases to 13.8 years in the case of the cars in which the deceased traveled.

Last year cannot only be summarized in figures. Very different headlines occupied the present of the automotive business like the purchase by PSA Peugeot Citroën of the automobile business of Opel/Vauxhall, the sentence to the manager of Volkswagen Oliver Schmidt, the approval of the regulations about WLTP in Brussels or the announcement of the agreement between Uber and NASA for the design of the air traffic systems of its flying taxi. Towards where will the motor business go? These are the data and figures, it is now the time to reflect.