The tail now wags the dog: Last year, for the first time, emerging markets accounted for more than half of the world's light-vehicle sales, says J.D. Power and Associates.
Although North America and Europe are well down from historic highs, worldwide sales are higher than ever thanks to the rapid rise of emerging markets.
Power expects global light-vehicle sales of 76.5 million units this year. Last year it was 72 million, beating the previous record of 70 million set in 2007.
Emerging markets include pretty much everything outside of North America, Europe, Japan, South Korea and Australia. And Power says momentum in emerging markets will continue.
"China continues to be the market to watch in Asia," John Zeng, director of Asian forecasting at Power's Shanghai office, said in a statement. Sales in the world's largest market are expected to grow 11 percent to 19 million this year. Power sees increases of 17 percent in India and 8 percent in Brazil.
With sales of about 13 million, the United States is expected to account for about 17 percent of global volume in 2011. That's a far cry from 2000, when U.S. sales peaked at 17.4 million and the United States represented almost 30 percent of world volume.