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India’s Light Vehicle Market Outpaces Global Top 10, Exceeding Pre-Pandemic Levels


In the automotive sector, India has stood out as a significant example of progress, surpassing its counterparts in the world’s largest markets. According to S&P Global Mobility forecasts, India is set to witness a remarkable 36% growth in its light vehicle market in 2023, reaching 4.8 million units—a testament to the country’s resilience and quick recovery in the post-pandemic era.

Global Overview

  • The global automotive sector has faced a series of unprecedented challenges, starting with the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
  • Subsequent crises, including the semiconductor chip shortage and the Ukraine-Russia war, have further complicated the supply chain, affecting auto sales worldwide.
  • As a result, major automobile markets are grappling with declines, with China and the US facing modest gains and the remaining seven markets expected to experience single to double-digit decreases in 2023 compared to 2019.

India’s Remarkable Growth Trajectory

  • The S&P Global Mobility forecast anticipates a substantial 36% growth in India’s automobile market in 2023 compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, showcasing a remarkable achievement that places the country ahead of all other major players in the industry.
  • This remarkable achievement places India ahead of all other major players in the industry. This success amid global turmoil sets India apart as a key player in the industry.

Comparative Analysis

  • A detailed comparison with other leading automobile markets highlights India’s exceptional performance. While China is expected to see a mere 2% increase in 2023 over 2019, the United States is forecasted to witness a decline of 9%.
  • The situation is even grimmer for other major markets, with countries like Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, France, South Korea, and Italy all anticipating declines ranging from -1% to -21%.
  • Country-wise Comparison of GDP (in Trillion USD) for 2019 and 2023 with Percentage Change:
    Country 2019 2023 % Change
    Mainland China 24.8 25.3 2
    United States 17.1 15.5 -9
    India 3.5 4.8 36
    Japan 5.1 4.7 -7
    Germany 3.9 3.1 -21
    United Kingdom 2.7 2.2 -17
    Brazil 2.7 2.1 -19
    France 2.7 2.1 -21
    South Korea 1.7 1.7 -1
    Italy 2.11 0.7 -19

Factors Driving India’s Success

  • Henner Lehne, Vice President of the Vehicle and Powertrain Group at S&P Global Mobility, points out that a quick bounce back from the pandemic, coupled with a well-managed supply chain, has played a crucial role in India’s success.
  • Additionally, India’s advantage in having lower chip content in locally manufactured vehicles, as compared to the US and Europe, has shielded the country from the severe semiconductor chip shortages plaguing the industry.

Domestic Growth Dynamics

  • India’s domestic passenger vehicle sales have been on a consistent upward trajectory, buoyed by positive macro-economic factors. Monthly advances since FY22 have been impressive, with November 2023 dispatches reaching an all-time high of 334,000 units.
  • In FY23, sales touched a record-breaking 3.8 million units, surpassing the pre-Covid peak of 3.3 million units seen in FY19. While the demand momentum is expected to continue in FY24, the growth rate is anticipated to slow down due to the higher base established in the previous fiscal year.

Looking Ahead

  • The positive trend observed in 2023 is expected to extend into 2024, with China and India projected to be the only growth markets.
  • S&P Global forecasts global auto sales to reach approximately 88 to 88.5 million units next year, a challenging prospect given the estimated end-of-year total of 86 million units globally.
  • Geopolitical tensions and an overall sense of pessimism are contributing to a difficult environment for consumers, with Lehne advising caution, stating that it may not be the ideal time to make a car purchase.

Important Questions Related to Exams

Q: What position does India hold among the world’s largest automobile markets in terms of growth in 2023?

Answer: India is the fastest-growing among the world’s ten largest automobile markets in 2023, with a projected 36% growth over the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Q. What factors have contributed to India’s success in the face of global challenges affecting the automotive industry?

Answer: India’s success can be attributed to its quick recovery from the pandemic, a well-integrated supply chain, and the advantage of having lower chip content in locally manufactured vehicles compared to the US and Europe.

Q. In FY23, how did India’s passenger vehicle sales perform compared to the pre-Covid peak in FY19?

Answer: In FY23, India’s passenger vehicle sales reached a record high of 3.8 million units, surpassing the pre-Covid peak of 3.3 million units seen in FY19.

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