After 10 years of continuous growth, world auto production saw a significant decline in 2019, with global production decreasing more than 5% for the year. In 2019, manufacturers produced approximately 92 million vehicles worldwide, including 67 million cars and 25 million commercial vehicles.

The decline in automobile production continued well into 2020 as manufacturing shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the industry. The cumulative data from Jan. 2020 through Sept. 2020 showed a 22.9% decrease in global automobile production, compared to the same period in 2019. Here we take a closer look at the top six countries in terms of the number of cars manufactured.

Key Takeaways

  • The global production for automobiles declined more than 5% in 2019.
  • In 2019, car companies produced 92 million vehicles worldwide, including 67 million cars and 25 million commercial vehicles.
  • This decline continued into 2020, as auto manufacturing slowed down significantly due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • From Jan. 2020 through Sept. 2020, global car production declined by 22.9% compared to the same period in 2019.
  • China ranks as the number one producer of cars by volume, many of which are sold domestically.
  • Following China, the United States, Japan, Germany, India, and Mexico round out the top six car producers.

1. China

China, well-known as the world's biggest manufacturer, is the leading producer of cars. The country’s 2019 production resulted in the completion of almost 26 million motor vehicles, or about 28% of all cars and trucks produced. Approximately 83% of China’s production went toward making personal passenger cars, while the other 4.3 million vehicles produced were for commercial use. With sales of 6.2 million vehicles in 2019, SAIC Motor Corporation Ltd. (600104.SS) is the largest manufacturer of vehicles in China.

2. United States of America

The United States produced only 11 million cars and trucks in 2019, but still, it is the second-largest car manufacturer in the world, with just under 12% market share. Although its production of passenger cars was less than Japan and Germany, the United States produced almost twice as many commercial vehicles as any other country, including over five times as many as Japan.

General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) manufactured a majority of the automobiles sold in the United States, holding a sales market share of 17.4%. Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) held 14.5% and 13.9% of the U.S. automobile sales market, respectively.

In 2019, electric car sales accounted for about 2.6% of global car sales or 2.1 million vehicles.

3. Japan

Japan produced 9.7 million total vehicles in 2019, or approximately 10.5% of all vehicles made globally. The country manufactured 8.3 million passenger cars and approximately 1.4 million commercial vehicles.

In 2017, Japan exported 4.71 million cars, trucks, and buses. This number increased by 2.3% in 2018 when the country exported 4.82 million vehicles. In 2019, exports remained flat, with the nation exporting 4.82 million vehicles.

For the first three quarters of 2020, Japanese auto companies manufactured 5.7 million vehicles, down 22.8% compared to the 7.4 million vehicles manufactured during the first three quarters of 2019.

4. Germany

Top German automakers including Volkswagen AG, BMW AG, and Daimler AG produced approximately 4.7 million total cars in 2019. This figure represented a 9% decrease from 2018 production levels and a 17.4% decrease from 2017 production levels. German car lobby firm, VDA, cited decreasing demand from international markets as a prime reason for the falling numbers.

As of Aug. 2020, Germany had manufactured approximately 2 million passenger cars for the first eight months of 2020, down 36% compared to the same period in 2019. The drop in manufacturing was blamed on the decrease in the number of working days and shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

5. India

While not well-known in America or Europe, India makes vehicles for its population of over 1.3 billion people. India produced 4.5 million total vehicles in 2019, which represented a year-over-year decline of 12.2%. Approximately 80% of manufactured vehicles were passenger cars and 20% were commercial vehicles. For the first three quarters of 2020, auto companies in India manufactured approximately 2.16 million vehicles, down 38.4% compared to the 3.5 million vehicles manufactured during the first three quarters of 2019.

6. Mexico

Edging out South Korea for the number six spot on our list of countries that produce the most cars is Mexico. In 2019, Mexico manufactured 1.38 million passenger cars and 2.6 million commercial vehicles for a total of 3.9 million vehicles. This represented a year-over-year decline of 2.8% compared to 2018.

Similar to the other countries on our list, Mexico experienced a decline in auto manufacturing in 2020. For the first three quarters of 2020, auto companies in Mexico manufactured approximately 2.2 million vehicles, down 29.4% compared to the 3.1 million vehicles manufactured during the first three quarters of 2019.