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Auto sales seen rising despite Europe slowdown

Keywords: Tags  automotive forecast, auto sales, auto lightweighting, Jeff Schuster, LMC Automotive, Platts' scrap seminar, Corinna Petry


CHICAGO — Global automotive sales are expected to rise 3 percent this year even though the ongoing European debt and austerity crisis will continue to dampen demand in the region, according to an executive of an automotive market intelligence firm.

European sales are forecast to fall 2 percent to 17.6 million vehicles in 2013, Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of Oxford, England-based LMC Automotive Ltd., said at Platts’ 2nd Annual Scrap Seminar in Chicago. Western Europe in particular is facing a long recovery, with sales unlikely to rebound to 2007 levels until 2020, he said.

However, North America will remain a growth market, with sales expected to rise 5 percent to 18 million vehicles, Schuster said, led by a 6-percent jump in U.S. sales to 15.3 million units.

Demand in emerging markets will be a mixed bag, Schuster predicted. South American sales should rise 4 percent to 5.6 million vehicles in 2013, mostly on strength in Brazilian purchases. Asian sales are expected to rise 5 percent to 35.7 million vehicles, due in large part to a projected 10-percent jump in Chinese auto sales to 21 million, more than offsetting a 7-percent drop in Japanese sales to 4.9 million vehicles.

The worldwide trend is one of growth, however. Schuster expects the global market to reach 100 million vehicles by 2016 and double its 2000 sales by 2020.

Global production and demand synchronize pretty well, he said. Chinese demand continues to be the fastest-growing among all nations, and China remains the No. 1 spot for building new assembly plants, followed by India, Brazil and Mexico, which will build five new plants.

However, there is a risk of automakers overbuilding and that capacity will exceed annual sales by 6 million vehicles as soon as 2017, which means that capacity utilization will reverse direction, Schuster said.

Despite being a mature market, North American sales could top 20 million vehicles in 2020, after which growth will slow to an annual rate of between 1 and 3 percent, he said.

But lightweighting will reduce consumption of a host of commodities. Regulations—specifically more-stringent corporate average fuel economy standards—will lead to the average vehicle weighing 5 percent less in 2017 than it does today, Schuster said.


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