‘With a world population of 8 billion, car production of just 61.6 million is surprisingly low’

Mike Rutherford thinks that current global car production is inadequate when compared to the amount of people living on the planet

Car production - opinion

The bean counters within the global automotive industry are famous for their frustratingly slow pace. Only now have they put down their calculators and decided that 61.6 million cars were built last year.   

Of the car-producing corners of the world, Asia is still – by far – the most powerful and productive, due to its output of more than 42 million cars in 2022.

China already churns out almost half a million cars a week. And with neighbours such as Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia, and what I predict to be the next big automotive nation – Vietnam – don’t be surprised if the collective work ethic of the Asians leads to one million cars per week before long. Yikes!  

Meanwhile, car making in the European region continues to shrink, dropping below 14 million last year from almost 19 million in 2019.

The Americas were left red-faced, thanks to a low production figure of less than five million last year. Put another way, Japan made almost two million more cars than the USA, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Columbia and Brazil combined. How did that happen?

Africa still struggles to hit the one-million annual production figure. But with Morocco leading the charge ahead of South Africa and a hesitant Algeria and Nigeria, the continent’s potential cannot be underestimated. Also increasingly significant is that Morocco, Algeria and Egypt are logistically close to Europe – whose consumers are increasingly attracted to low-priced Dacias, Citroens and other modest models built in North Africa.           

The most productive countries occupy four league tables. The top dogs are followed by credible second-tier performers, then third-division hopefuls, propped up by a fourth layer comprising emerging countries plus a few tired old nations who’ve seen better days. 

China, with its astonishing figure of 23.8 million for 2022, is world number one. The equivalent numbers for Japan (6.6 million), India (4.4), Germany (3.5), Korea (3.4), Brazil (1.8) and Spain (1.8) look low, but they’re healthy – and would be healthier still, if countries such as Korea and Japan had more land, greater natural resources and larger populations.  

The USA shouldn’t have – but did – dump itself into tier two, due to the Spaniards building a few thousand more cars. Also, ignore at your peril some of the unlikelier nations who sit in the same group: the Czech Republic (1.2 million), Indonesia (1.2 million), France (one million), Slovakia (one million), Iran (one million) and Turkey (0.8 million).

Currently the UK sits at the top of the third division, after having built 775,014 cars last year. Mexico (0.7 million), Malaysia (0.7 million), Thailand (0.6 million), Romania (0.5 million), Italy (0.5 million) and Russia (0.4 million) are in the chasing pack.

Layer-four strugglers include Hungary and Morocco (both narrowly beaten by Russia), Uzbekistan (0.3 million), South Africa (0.3 million) and Canada, Argentina and Portugal (all at just under 0.3 million and worryingly stuck in the relegation zone).

More importantly, in a 2022 when the world’s population passed eight billion, global car production of just 61.6 million seems surprisingly low and plain inadequate. Doesn’t it?

Would you like to see more cars built in the UK? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

Most Popular

New MG2 will beat Volkswagen to the baby electric car market
MG badge
News

New MG2 will beat Volkswagen to the baby electric car market

MG has confirmed it is working on an entry-level electric car to rival Citroen e-C3 and new Fiat Panda
29 Feb 2024
Car Deal of the Day: new razor-sharp Toyota C-HR hybrid SUV for £257 a month
Toyota C-HR 2.0 Hybrid GR Sport front corner static shot
News

Car Deal of the Day: new razor-sharp Toyota C-HR hybrid SUV for £257 a month

The recently-launched second generation of Toyota’s funky hybrid SUV is our Deal of the Day for 29th February
29 Feb 2024
New £20m Rolls-Royce Arcadia Droptail is the ultimate in opulence
Rolls Royce Arcadia - front static
News

New £20m Rolls-Royce Arcadia Droptail is the ultimate in opulence

Arcadia is the third model in Rolls-Royce’s exclusive Droptail commission, and it doesn’t come cheap
29 Feb 2024