CHICAGO Worldwide demand
for new vehicles has slowed this year, leading one consultancy
to revise its global automotive forecast for the year
publication of New York-based PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC),
forecasts global light vehicle assembly to reach 79.1 million
units in 2012, down 300,000 from the 79.4 million units it
forecast in the first quarter. A steady stream of disappointing
news from Europe and Japan and a relatively weak performance in
traditional growth markets such as Brazil, India and China have
dampened the industrys outlook.
The European Union continues to
be the biggest area of concern, as ongoing weak demand results
in some painfully low utilization rates at assembly operations
there, the consultants said in a report released Tuesday.
They said that this would "force
the need for capacity rationalization in the near future."
Indeed, Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co. Wednesday
announced a proposal to shut down its factory in Belgium by the
end of 2014 (see related story, left).
The news is not all bad,
however, because North America continues to outperform
expectations. In fact, the analysts raised their forecast for
assemblies to 15.3 million units, up 1.3 percent from a
third-quarter forecast of 15.1 million units. This is helped by
pent-up demand and increased access to financing for subprime
They also bumped up the figure because European and Japanese
transplants are building more vehicles in North America.