Most of the world's new cars roll off assembly lines in China nowadays. As this chart, based on data from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers shows, the ranking of countries with the highest number of cars produced has changed significantly over the years. In 1999, for example, China did not even appear in the top 10 and was ranked 14th at the time. Ten years later, China was already in first place and has maintained this position ever since.
The gap between China and the next largest producer is considerable: China produces around 21.4 million vehicles annually, while Japan produces 8.3 million. Over the last 20 years, Germany has been able to maintain its third position with around 4.7 million passenger cars produced.
The production figures in China have risen so rapidly, not least because the entire automotive industry is subject to strong globalization and German manufacturers such as Volkswagen AG are increasingly expanding their production in China. In 2019, passenger cars sold in China already accounted for around 39 percent of Volkswagen's total sales. Daimler AG and the BMW Group are also increasingly turning their attention to China. The next electrically powered versions of their Mini and Smart series, for example, are being built in China together with partners. From there they export them all over the world. Plants in Europe are lagging behind, and as production moves, so does know-how. German manufacturers enter into so-called joint ventures with Chinese companies, usually involving technology transfer.