100 million sales seen by '16; Europe, Japan sag
There is an economic crisis in Europe, and U.S. light-vehicle sales are still well under their peak levels. But the rest of the world keeps growing. Worldwide sales surpassed 80 million last year for the first time and are on track to hit 100 million within four years, says forecasting company LMC Automotive.
Global sales grew 5 percent in 2012 to 81 million units, says LMC. The rate of growth will slow to 3 percent this year but then will heat up enough to top 100 million by 2016, says Jeff Schuster, LMC's head of forecasting for the Americas.
He expects continued gains this year in China, as well as steady, but slower growth in the United States. The challenges are in Europe and Japan. LMC expects European auto sales to fall for a sixth straight year.
"And there's a fair amount of risk in Japan, which is likely to decline 400,000 or 500,000 units this year," Schuster said. "Of major mature markets, the U.S. is likely a bright spot and a safe zone for growth."