When it comes to popular exports, the automobile industry leads the way across the world. In 2020, global car exports totaled $633.6 billion, making this the second most exported product in the world. Only electronic integrated circuits beat the manufacture of vehicles in worldwide export dollar value.
At last check, European countries currently top the leaderboard, boasting the highest dollar value of all cars exported and accounting for over half of all international car sales. Asia follows closely behind, holding 24.3% of all exports, and North America comes in third place, with 18.5% of all sales. One thing is clear: exporting cars can be a lucrative business.
Which Countries Produce The Most Cars?
Before we take a closer look at who is top in terms of exporting cars, it is useful to consider where the majority of these products are created and who is leading the way in terms of automotive manufacturing plants.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, China comes in top place as the largest producer of cars in the world. In 2019, 28% of all cars produced on the planet came from China.
The USA is the second-largest car manufacturer and boasts a score of producing just under 12% of all cars in the world. Most of these were from just three businesses: the General Motors Company, the Ford Motor Company, and the Toyota Motor Corporation. In total, the USA produced 11 million cars and trucks in a single year.
In third place is Japan, which boasted a total of 9.7 million vehicles created in 2019. This translates to around 10.5% of all cars produced around the world.
With names such as Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler all boasting German origins, it comes as no surprise that the country is the fourth-largest producer of cars in the world. 2019 saw the production of 4.7 million units, and progress remained steady until the global shutdown of 2020.
Only time will tell whether Germany will regain their market share, but with the range of big names they are responsible for, there are high hopes for the industry to recover.
Despite being less well known, India still ranks fifth for vehicle production, though their figures have been in decline for a number of years. Once again, only time will tell whether they can hold a spot in the top five.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the race, Mexico has proven that they deserve a place in the global automotive market; the country has recently edged South Korea out of the top rankings. 2019 saw the manufacture of 1.38 million passenger vehicles and an impressive 2.6 million commercial vehicles in Mexico.
Production was negatively impacted by the global pandemic in 2020 but close ties and free trade agreements with Canada and the United States offer a good chance that the industry will recover.
What About Exports?
Now that we have explored the top six countries for production, it is interesting to consider how these correspond to the top countries for export—especially for countries that take full advantage of offshore manufacturing.
Accounting for 19.3% of exported cars, it comes as no surprise that Germany holds the top spot for car exports, boasting a total of $122.3 billion in a single year. Despite not being the largest producer, Germany has nonetheless secured an extremely profitable position in the export market. German cars can be found in countries across the globe.
As the third-highest producer, Japan holds second place on the list of the highest auto exports, accounting for 19.3% of all exported vehicles.
The United States is in third place, responsible for 7.2% of all exported cars. Our close geographical and trading relationship with Mexico is likely to play a key role in this position.
Following closely behind the USA, Mexico car exports made up 6.2% of the total. Many of these exports were made to the United States, taking full advantage of the strong relationship and trade deals between the two nations.
South Korea may have dropped off the list of highest production numbers, but they retain a strong position when it comes to exports, accounting for 5.6% of all international vehicle exports.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, the countries with the highest production numbers do not automatically repeat this success with regards to exports. This can be the result of offshoring production, taking advantage of manufacturing benefits.
In the case of the USA and Mexico, making the most of the advantageous taxes and tariffs put in place by the USMCA trade agreement as well as the lower wages in Mexico has been essential for boosting potential profit.
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