Countries that produce the most cars

Written by:
May 15, 2019
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Countries that produce the most cars

In 2018, 70 million cars and 25.1 million commercial vehicles rolled off assembly lines across the world. In total, 95.6 million vehicles were produced worldwide, and although that sounds like a lot, it actually represented a 1.1% drop compared to 2017 production numbers. According to Forbes, an even greater dip in production is likely in 2019 because of several complex factors. The world economy is faltering, big carmakers are pouring cash reserves into emerging technologies, many people are waiting until electric and other alternative cars are more affordable and available, and regulators in markets like Europe are imposing strict new efficiency rules.

Even still, the global auto industry is a $3 trillion behemoth driven by market share leaders like Toyota, Volkswagen, Ford, and GM. The modern auto industry spans every corner of the globe, with the top 25 biggest producers scattered across five continents. Some of the cars they sell are household names, others you've never heard of, and some you're not even allowed to buy. Outsourcing manufacturing and assembly continues to make good business sense as profits for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) keep on rising, but it's not only the corporate bosses who benefit from the worldwide expansion of car culture. The industry accounts for 12 million jobs in Europe alone, 5 million in Japan, and more than 8 million in the U.S., according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Using data from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, Stacker ranked the top 25 automakers on Earth by the number of passenger and commercial vehicles they produce. Some build homegrown domestic brands both for export and for sale in their own countries. Others assemble cars in plants established by foreign companies. Others manufacture a combination of both cars made by companies from their own countries as well as by brands overseas. All, however, are part of one of the most dominant, most profitable, and most widespread industries in the world. Read on to find out more.

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#25. Argentina

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 208,573 (0.3% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 258,076 (1%)
- Total: 466,649 (0.5%)
- Change from 2017: -1.4%

Argentina has a long history of auto manufacturing, mostly of vehicles designed in other countries like Volkswagen, Ford, and Fiat. Although Argentina still squeaks out a spot on the list of the world's biggest auto producers, its days as a top automaker may be numbered. A lingering recession and a shrinking economy have created a constriction in the country's auto industry that led to a 32% decrease in production during 2018 alone.

#24. Romania

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 476,769 (0.7% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 0 (0.0%)
- Total: 476,769 (0.5%)
- Change from 2017: 31.1%

Auto production is a major industry in the Romanian economy, and this industry is booming. Ford tripled production in 2018 at a major plant in Romania, whose main domestic brands are Ford Romania and Dacia. The country also boasts more than 400 parts manufacturers. In total, the auto industry there grew by 20% in 2018 alone.

#23. Malaysia

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 522,000 (0.7% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 42,800 (0.2%)
- Total: 564,800 (0.6%)
- Change from 2017: 12.2%

In 2018, Malaysia's booming auto industry contributed 4.2% to the country's GDP, thanks to the creation of nearly 65,000 jobs and a parts and components exports business that generated $2.94 billion that year alone. Homegrown companies like Proton and Inokom operate productions plants there, as do foreign brands like Volvo, Go, and Honda.

#22. South Africa

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 321,097 (0.5% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 289,757 (1.2%)
- Total: 610,854 (0.6%)
- Change from 2017: 3.5%

Although South Africa's auto export market is doing well, there are storm clouds on the horizon for Africa's most significant car-producing country. The country's car manufacturing industry, which serves global customers like Honda, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and BMW, is currently grappling with complications like political turmoil, labor issues, and a struggling economy.

#21. Poland

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 451,600 (0.6% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 208,046 (0.8%)
- Total: 659,646 (0.7%)
- Change from 2017: -4.4%

Poland doesn't have a car brand of its own, but the country is a major player in the European Union as a supplier of engines, car parts, and cars. Kongsberg, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo all have operations there.

#20. Italy

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 670,932 (1% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 389,136 (1.5%)
- Total: 1.1 million (1.1%)
- Change from 2017: -7.2%

Ferrari. Maserati. Alfa Romeo. Lamborghini. The names of Italy's premier automakers reverberate throughout the world. Italy is the #4 largest market for cars in Europe, behind only Germany, the U.K., and France. Despite Italy's long, proud, and storied history as an automobile mecca, more than 70% of the cars there are foreign imports.

#19. Slovakia

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 1.1 million (1.5% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 0 (0.0%)
- Total: 1.1 million (1.1%)
- Change from 2017: 5.6%

Slovakia broke a national record for the second year in a row in 2018 when the country's automotive industry racked up another seven-figure production year. The country, which is near the top in the world in terms of cars produced per 1,000 people, relies heavily on contracts from Kia Motors Slovakia, Jaguar Land Rover, Volkswagen Slovakia, and PSA Group Slovakia.

#18. Iran

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 1 million (1.5% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 68,213 (0.3%)
- Total: 1.1 million (1.1%)
- Change from 2017: -40%

The two main players in Iran's auto industry, Iran Khodro and Saipa, manufacture well-known global brands like Hyundai, but also produce models of their own. Iran has been a heavy hitter on the global market, but the auto industry there is in major trouble. The cause of that trouble is stiff sanctions—removed by President Barack Obama, but reinstated by President Donald Trump—that forbid the import of Iranian cars to the U.S. while scaring off potential investors.

#17. Indonesia

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 1.1 million (1.5% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 287,940 (1.1%)
- Total: 1.3 million (1.4%)
- Change from 2017: 10.3%

One of the biggest auto producers in Southeast Asia, Indonesia manufactures brands like BMW, Volvo, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and GM. Indonesia's industry minister recently announced that the country had secured $900 million in foreign investment for the country's auto industry.

#16. Czech Republic

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 1.3 million (1.9% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 0 (0.0%)
- Total: 1.3 million (1.4%)
- Change from 2017: 3.0%

About 85% of the cars manufactured in the Czech Republic are exported, mostly to markets in Europe. Tatra and Škoda Auto are two major domestic brands, and the country also manufactures better-known international brands like Hyundai.

#15. Turkey

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 1 million (1.5% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 523,689 (2.1%)
- Total: 1.6 million (1.6%)
- Change from 2017: -8.6%

Toyota, Hyundai, and Isuzu are among the manufacturers with operations in Turkey, which also is home to several of its own domestic car companies. The auto industry, which has long been the leader of Turkish exports, added two more major export countries in 2018, bringing the total tally of 10-figure customers to nine.

#14. United Kingdom

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 1.5 million (2.2% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 84,888 (0.3%)
- Total: 1.6 million (1.7%)
- Change from 2017: -8.3%

The list of top U.K. carmakers reads like a chronicle of automotive royalty thanks to names like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Lotus, and Aston Martin. Production, however, dropped in 2018 and is slated to fall even further as the looming Brexit breakaway continues to strain the industry, reducing output and scaring off investors.

#13. Russia

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 1.6 million (2.2% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 204,102 (0.8%)
- Total: 1.8 million (1.8%)
- Change from 2017: 13.9%

Russia's most popular domestic car brand is AvtoVAZ, but the country's massive auto industry also manufactures global brands like Cadillac, Chevrolet, Kia, and BMW. Russia's auto industry was constricting to the point of collapse in recent years, but in 2018 the industry rebounded as the country began to claw its way out of a deep, extended recession.

#12. Canada

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 655,896 (0.9% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 1.4 million (5.4%)
- Total: 2 million (2.1%)
- Change from 2017: -7.9%

Just like the United States' auto base in Detroit, Canada's car industry is centered around the Great Lakes region. The more than 2 million cars that are assembled there come mostly from five OEMs: GM, Ford, FCA, Honda, and Toyota.

#11. Thailand

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 877,015 (1.2% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 1.3 million (5.1%)
- Total: 2.2 million (2.3%)
- Change from 2017: 9.0%

Referred to by CNN as “the Detroit of Asia,” Thailand is the largest auto manufacturer in Southeast Asia and a major regional hub for companies like GM, which uses the country as a base for distribution to markets like Australia. It hosts plants for companies such as Mercedes, BMW, and Ford, which have been there for decades following the arrival of Mitsubishi and Toyota in the 1960s.

#10. France

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 1.8 million (2.5% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 507,000 (2%)
- Total: 2.3 million (2.4%)
- Change from 2017: 2%

PSA Group and Renault Group are France's two main automakers, and about 75% of the cars they make are sold outside the country. The industry employs 10% of the country's population, either directly or indirectly, and almost 1 in 4 vehicles sold in Europe is French.

#9. Spain

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 2.3 million (3.2% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 552,169 (2.2%)
- Total: 2.8 million (2.9%)
- Change from 2017: -1%

Spain is one of the world's 10 most prolific auto manufacturers and the second-biggest in Europe. Among Spain's domestic brands are GTA Spano, SEAT, and Hurtan, but foreign companies like Daimler AG, Renault, Ford, Nissan, and Volkswagen also maintain plants and facilities there. Although Spain's auto industry has attracted significant foreign investment in recent years, stringent new EU admissions standards are currently crimping sales.

#8. Brazil

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 2.4 million (3.4% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 493,051 (2%)
- Total: 2.9 million (3%)
- Change from 2017: 5.2%

An overall rebounding of Brazil's economy has boosted the country's auto industry, with once devastated segments like heavy commercial and light vehicles experiencing growth in 2018 for the first time in years. Most of the world's large, popular, global brands have a presence in Brazil, one of Latin America's biggest auto manufacturing countries.

#7. South Korea

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 3.7 million (5.2% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 367,104 (1.5%)
- Total: 4 million (4.2%)
- Change from 2017: -2.1%

South Korea is one of the most significant and advanced countries in the global automotive industry, responsible for brands like Kia, Hyundai, and General Motors Korea, formerly Daewoo Motors. Production, however, has fallen for three straight years in a row, according to the Korean Automobile Manufacturers Association, due mostly to Hyundai's decision to move assembly operations overseas.

#6. Mexico

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 1.6 million (2.2% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 2.5 million (10%)
- Total: 4.1 million (4.3%)
- Change from 2017: 0.1%

Mexico is the giant of Latin America's auto industry and one of the biggest and fastest-expanding auto manufacturing hubs on Earth. Virtually every major global automaker has a presence there thanks to Mexico's status as North America's most affordable labor market—dozens of makers produce hundreds of models in Mexican plants.

#5. Germany

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 5.1 million (7.3% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 0 (0%)
- Total: 5.1 million (5.4%)
- Change from 2017: -9.3%

The phrase “German engineering” is synonymous across the world with precision, reliability, and ingenuity—and nowhere is German engineering more celebrated than in German automobiles, which started the worldwide car craze in the late 1800s. The country is home to some of the most celebrated car companies on Earth, including the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen, and Audi. Even still, a combination of Brexit-related instability, American tariffs, and a Chinese slowdown are aligning to put the squeeze on the German auto industry, which is one of the most critical segments of the country's entire economy.

#4. India

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 4.1 million (5.8% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 1.1 million (4.4%)
- Total: 5.2 million (5.4%)
- Change from 2017: 8%

According to a report from analytical consulting firm McKinsey & Company, India is expected to become the world's #3 market for passenger vehicles by 2021. Nearly a dozen automakers call India home, and many more of the biggest global companies in the world have plants, facilities, and other operations there, including MINI, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Honda.

#3. Japan

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 8.4 million (11.9% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 1.4 million (5.5%)
- Total: 9.7 million (10.2%)
- Change from 2017: 0.4%

Japan's automobile industry is one of the greatest success stories in the history of global industry, with brands like Honda, Toyota, and Nissan standing out as being among the first manufacturers in history to pose a real challenge to American automotive dominance. For several decades, the biggest Japanese automakers have ruled the global market, but that could all change as German manufacturers are now leading the charge into the era of autonomous driving.

#2. USA

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 2.8 million (4% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 8.5 million (33.9%)
- Total: 11.3 million (11.8%)
- Change from 2017: 1.1%

The American auto industry rose to prominence at the end of the 19th century and quickly became the biggest, most dominant, and most ingenuitive on Earth. GM, Chrysler, and Ford were known worldwide as the Big 3, and their home base of Detroit was famous across the globe as Motor City. The 2008 recession nearly wiped out the industry, but public bailouts worked and auto sales today are close to record highs.

#1. China

2018 production:
- Passenger cars: 23.5 million (33.4% of world production)
- Commercial vehicles: 4.3 million (17%)
- Total: 27.8 million (29.1%)
- Change from 2017: -4.2%

When it comes to production, even the mighty Japanese and American auto industries can't compete with China—not even close. China makes one-third of the world's passenger cars and about the same percentage of its combined total vehicles—more than twice the number produced in the United States. Competition, however, is fierce, and 2018 marked the first time since the '90s that sales have dropped in China, according to China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers—and a raging trade war with the United States isn't helping China's auto industry.

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