Global auto sales head for 100 million by 2018

9:04 PM, Dec 17, 2013   |    comments
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Automakers will have an opportunity over the next several years to tap into rapid growth overseas while sales in the U.S. will increase more gradually.

The rapid global expansion of the automotive industry will put even greater pressure on North American parts suppliers as manufacturers continue to increase the pace of new product introductions, according to analysts from IHS Automotive.

"At no other time in recent history has the North American automotive market been as well positioned as it is today," said Mike Jackson, director of North American vehicle forecasting for IHS Automotive.

In the U.S., automotive sales have recovered to an expected total of 15.5 million this year from a low of 10.4 million in 2009.

U.S. sales will continue to increase over the next four years in the U.S., but the pace will slow at the same time that product introductions increase, said Jackson, one of several analysts to speak this week at an IHS event.

That slowing growth rate will put more pressure on automakers as they launch 57 new cars and trucks in the next year and vie more intensely for greater market share. "What we are going to get to in the next 18 to 24 months is a much more competitive dynamic," Jackson said.

But at the same time that sales will grow slowly in the U.S., global sales are expected to increase 22% over the next four years, from about 82 million this year to more than 100 million by 2018. That will give manufacturers with a North American production base the opportunity to expand production here and boost exports by about 2 million cars and trucks annually to a total of 18.2 million by 2020, Jackson said.

Charles Chesbrough, economist for IHS Automotive, said the economic outlook for almost all regions of the world - including Europe - is improving. "We are going to finally see economic growth in Europe."

But even with Europe recovering, the real opportunities for automakers will be global markets, ranging from China to Thailand and Brazil to Chile. "In every major economy in the world we are expecting economic growth," Chesbrough said.

(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)

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