Amid Slowing Growth, Record Worldwide Car Sales Reached in 2017

IHS Markit estimates 2017 sales were up 2.7 percent from year before, and forecasts 95.9 million light-vehicle sales in 2018.

Aerial View Of Automobile Factory In Xiangyang
VCG—VCG via Getty Images

While car sales in the U.S. declined in 2017, global sales still hit a record number.

That's the estimate of IHS Markit, which on Thursday projected an eighth year of record sales in 2017, with around 94.5 million light vehicles sold, up 2.4 percent from 2016.

Global auto sales finished the year lower than anticipated in December, with 8.65 million units sold, down 1.7 percent from the final month of 2016, according to the business information provider.

In the wake of 2017's strong performance, the coming year should bring a slowdown in global light-vehicle sales growth, said IHS, which still projects a positive 2018, estimating global light-vehicle sales of 95.9 million.

"While this forecast reflects a slight moderation, it is concerning to us," said Henner Lehne, the executive director of global vehicle forecasting for IHS. “We expect 2018 will be yet another record-setting year for the global auto industry, up 1.5 percent from 2017."

In the United States, full-year sales volume is expected to hit 16.9 million units in 2018, down 1.7 percent from last year, IHS projected. Economic and credit conditions support healthy demand, but the volume of used vehicles and consumer demand for utility vehicles is expected to lead to a second down year for U.S. car sales.