Global Light Vehicle Sales Predicted to Rise 6%

February 15, 2011

jdpower-global-light-vehicle-feb-2011.JPGGlobal new light-vehicle sales this year are projected to reach 76.5 million units in 2011, which would surpass the record of 72 million light vehicles sold in 2010 by about 6%, according to J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Forecasting. In turn, last year’s sales beat the previous record of 70 million, set in 2007, by almost 3%.

Emerging Markets Look Promising

Emerging markets, including China, India and Brazil, are expected to continue to expand on their 51% share of total light-vehicle sales captured in 2010. Overall, emerging markets are expected to account for 53% of total light-vehicle sales in 2011, a further sign that these are the key markets that will drive the level of growth in the coming years.

Mature markets, on the other hand, are forecasted to see mixed results. The US economy is expected to be stronger, which should lead to higher sales (see below). Western Europe is expected to be flat, while Japan is expected to see its auto market shrink.

Global GDP growth is projected to be at or above 4% in 2011, down slightly from 4.6 % in 2010, but a level J.D. Power predicts will still be strong enough to support further recovery in auto sales in many markets and continued growth in the emerging markets.

As business activity picks up globally in 2011, growth in light commercial vehicles is expected to be up 7% and account for 18% of global light-vehicle sales. In comparison, sales of passenger vehicles are expected to be up nearly 6%.

North America Also Has Positive Outlook

The J.D. Power outlook for North America in 2011 is positive, with sales forecasted to increase by 11% to 15.5 million units, up from 14 million units in 2010. The US auto market continues to be the driver for growth in the region, with sales expected to reach 13 million units, an increase of 12% from 2010.

Canada’s growth, projected at 4% in 2011, remains positive, as J.D. Power analysis indicates the market was not affected as deeply as that of the US during the recession. With sales projected at 900,000 units, Mexico is expected to see an 8% increase in light-vehicle sales from 2010, with its growth dependent on the US recovery and subject to high levels of inflation.

US, Canada, China, India Have Strong 2010

In North America, the US market saw sales of 11.6 million light vehicles in 2010, an 11% increase from 2009 when retailers sold 10.4 million units. Canada’s light-vehicle sales in 2010 finished at 1.6 million units, a 7% increase from 2009.

China ended 2010 on a high note, with December’s selling rate coming in at 19 million units. China’s light-vehicle sales were up by more than 30% from 2009, to 17.2 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles sold. India also exhibited strong growth of more than 30% in 2010 and finished the year at 2.7 million units.

The Asia Pacific region’s mature markets: Japan, Korea and Australia, ended 2010 with mixed results. Japan’s selling rate improved slightly in December, Korea’s sales remained strong, and Australia ended 2010 with the second-highest annual sales total in its history.

Light-vehicle sales in Europe, while slightly better than anticipated, were flat in 2010 at 18.2 million units. In Western Europe, as the market was down 4% for the year.

New Vehicle Retail Sales Start Year Promisingly

January 2011 new-vehicle retail sales were expected to come in at 632,100 units, which represents a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 10 million units, nearly 2 million units higher than January 2010, according to other recent data from J.D. Power and Associates. January 2011 retail volume was expected to be up 23% from one year ago.

About the Data: J.D. Power & Associates provided the data and chart used in this article.

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