Sales of internal combustion engine cars in 2018 are unlikely to be surpassed in any future year, as demand in the world’s three largest markets stalls and carmakers seek to ramp up production of electric cars. “We will probably see the peak of combustion engine car sales in 2018 based on global sales through October, plus estimates for November and December,” said Felipe Munoz, global automotive analyst at Jato Dynamics, a supplier of automotive data.

“At the beginning of the year we had a more optimistic perspective for the global market. This has changed in the last six months.” That idea that combustion engines would be displaced by “zero emission” technology has become mainstream in recent years, but predictions at the start of 2018 generally held that demand would keep growing until 2022 or later.  Selling combustion engine cars to customers — this will not grow in the future Axel Schmidt, global automotive lead at Accenture

However, the global car market in recent months has been characterised as “disastrous” by one analyst and a “nightmare” by another, owing to the US-led trade war, Brexit, financing issues among Chinese consumers, the embargo on Iran and new emissions targets in Europe.

Although 2018 sales are likely to be slightly higher than a year before — Moody’s is projecting growth of 0.2 percent to 95.5m — demand has been shrinking since the summer in the three biggest markets, namely China, the EU and the US.  “When you look at 2018 since the summer, new car sales in all of the important markets are going down,” said Axel Schmidt, global automotive lead at Accenture. “Selling combustion engine cars to customers — this will not grow in the future.”