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February 17, 2011

Global Light-Vehicle Sales Set Record in 2010 and Build Momentum for 2011

Global Car Sales

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Photo: A view of a Mercedes-Benz car during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center on February 11, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz.)

Global 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, according to J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Forecasting.

If new light-vehicle sales reach their expected levels, this would be 6 percent higher than the 2010 total, which shattered the previous record of 70 million units set in 2007.

“Overall growth in the world economy has been supporting further recovery in auto sales,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates. “We’re seeing signals of stability and increased consumer demand for new vehicles as economic optimism increases.”

Global Car Sales

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Photo: Q-Park wins bid to take over 14 car parks in London. Oxford Street is one of the car parks located in the heart of London.

Most regions saw sales growth in 2010, including North America, South America and Asia, with China being a key to growth for that continent. Western Europe was the notable exception to the growth pattern.

Also, for the first time in 2010, emerging auto markets accounted for more than one-half of global light-vehicle sales (51%), clearly signaling the shift of power in the global automotive market that has been taking place during the past five years. That momentum in the emerging markets is expected to continue throughout 2011.

Global Car Sales

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Photo: The REVA NXG Electric Car, Bangalore, India.

Outlook for 2011: Mature Markets Recover, Emerging Markets Continue to Expand

Emerging markets, including China, India and Brazil, are expected to continue to expand on the 51 percent share of total light-vehicle sales captured in 2010. Overall, emerging markets are expected to account for 53 percent 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 U.S. economy is expected to be stronger, which should lead to higher sales. Western Europe is expected to be flat, while Japan is expected to see its auto market shrink.

Global Car Sales

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Photo: Thirty one brand new Porsche Panameras are awaiting their flight to the U.S. at the Leipzig, Germany, airport. Having just rolled off the assembly line at the nearby Porsche production plant, each car is carefully lifted, secured and then placed on the 747 cargo plane.

North America

The outlook for North America in 2011 is positive, with sales forecasted to increase by 11 percent to 15.5 million units — an increase of 1.5 million units from 2010.

Europe

In contrast to the steady recovery taking place in North America, Europe is expected to see a slight decrease in its light-vehicle market in 2011, with sales down to 18.1 million units.

Asia

The auto market in Asia will continue to grow in 2011.

CHINA: In China, a country that has seen exceptional growth in its auto market in recent years, sales are expected to exceed 19 million units, an increase of 11 percent compared with 2010.

In spite of the expected cooling of the growth rate, China will remain the top global auto market by a significant margin — outselling the U.S. by approximately 6 million units — and the long-term prospects for the market remain strong.

INDIA: With the higher income levels and increased demand for new sub-compact models, sales in India are being boosted, particularly in the semi-urban and rural markets. Accordingly, sales volume in India in 2011 is projected to be up 17 percent to 3.2 million units.

South America

South America’s economies and auto markets have made a sharp recovery.

According to J.D. Power, the major near-term risks to the region include rising inflation and continuing monetary tightening, a sudden reversal in investor confidence, and a possible credit bubble in Brazil, which is the largest auto market in the region with nearly 75 percent of sales.

Global Car Sales

ENLARGE

Photo: A 30 ft. inflatable Carfax Car Fox helps draw customers to Serra Buick Cadillac GMC Showroom in Michigan, USA.

“From a global standpoint, 2010 was a combination of recovery and strong growth in emerging markets,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates. “Growth in 2011 is not expected to be as pronounced as it was in 2010. However, 2011 appears to be a stable environment with more manageable growth rates balanced across the world, as the recovery in the auto market will continue in many countries.”

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