DETROIT -- Automakers face weak sales in most overseas markets this year, a top industry analyst told the Automotive News World Congress. U.S. and Chinese auto sales will improve, but little growth is expected in Europe or elsewhere.
U.S. sales, after rising 10 percent to 12.8 million units last year, will rise another 5 percent in 2012, said Adam Jonas, head of the global auto research team at Morgan Stanley. He said pent-up demand, a flurry of new or redesigned models and auto companies' improved operating structures will boost sales.
"Products suffered enormously from automakers' inability to take risks," Jonas, 37, said. "They became quite good at cranking out perfect mediocrity. There's no structural excuse for this anymore."
The growth rate of sales in China is decelerating rapidly. Falling real estate and stock prices, increased taxes on engines larger than 2 liters in displacement and taxes on U.S. vehicles imported into China will lower demand there, he said.
Sales in China still are expected to grow more than 10 percent in 2012, but it will not be profitable growth because of overcapacity among automakers, he said.
"Chinese capacity is set to grow two times as fast as demand in 2012 and will also outpace demand significantly in 2013," he said. "This market is quickly moving into one that was undersupplied for much of the last five years to one where it can be in a situation of significant excess supply in the years ahead."