The world's automakers produced a statistical anomaly last year: For the first time in a decade, they sold more vehicles than they built.
Auto companies built 57,484,354 vehicles in 2001. But they sold 57,509,117, for a margin of 24,763.
Throughout the 1990s, global production always exceeded sales. That was an apparent reflection of factories churning out vehicles to keep ahead of ever-increasing demand.
In 1991, the world's auto consumers purchased 45.9 million vehicles. Last year's mark of 57.5 million shows an annual average growth of more than 1 million vehicles.
Complete tallies of worldwide sales and production will be part of the global data section in the 2002 Automotive News Market Data Book.
The special issue, to be published May 27, will be distributed to all Automotive News subscribers. The price for single copies is $19.95.
A more detailed version of the Market Data Book will be available online May 27. Access to that online version, at autonewsdatacenter.com, is limited to subscribers.