Will your next car be made in China?


Building cars is towards the top of the manufacturing hierarchy - some countries are even known for the cars they build. If you want a good quality car, you probably think of Japan. If you want a stylish sports car, you probably think of Italy. If you want a diesel car (ahem...) you probably think of Germany. But did you know that in recent years the worldwide car manufacturing arena has been changing? Which country makes the most cars these days? - the answer might surprise you!

But before we get to the data, here's a "mystery vehicle" for you to try to guess. This photo was taken by my old college buddy Alex. Where did he take this picture, and what kind of vehicle is it? (Leave your guesses in the comments section.)

And now, on to the data analysis! ... In researching this topic, I found the data at the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) website. For each year, they provided a table in the following format:

Tables are great to have, but these tables didn't lend themselves to figuring out how things have been changing over time. Therefore I combined the data from all years available into one spreadsheet, imported it into SAS, and created a simple plot. Since six of the countries stood out as the higher producers of cars, I assigned colors to each of those lines, and made all the others light gray. I then annotated the country name at the end of each colored line.

With this graph, we can easily see things like...

  • The USA used to manufacture twice as many cars (6M) as South Korea (2M), but now both countries produce about the same number (4M).
  • Japan and USA had big drops right after the 2008 recession, and Japan has still not recovered to the 2008 level.
  • China dramatically increased the number of cars it manufactured after the 2008 recession, and has continued to increase every year since.

Now, let's use a pie chart to see the size of China's "piece of the pie" in 2015. Wow, China manufactured almost as many cars as the other top 5 manufacturers combined! You might not have guessed it, but your next car might have a "Made in China" sticker!



About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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  1. Robert Allison
    Robert Allison on

    The photo was taken in China, and my friend says it's the Chinese version (or as some say 'knockoff') of a Chevrolet Suburban.

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