Interview: J.D. Power Director of Global Forecasting Jeff Schuster talks about global car sales projections.

by Jeff Gilbert
WWJ AutoBeat Reporter

TROY (WWJ) The United States may be in slow recovery mode, but car and truck sales are on a tear in other parts of the world.  That’s prompting the people at J.D. Power and Associates to project that the global auto industry will sell 6 per cent more vehicles this year than last year, which was a record year.

“We’re absolutely expecting 2011 to be another record year from a global standpoint,” says J.D. Power director of global forecasting Jeff Schuster.   J.D. Power projecting that about 76.5 million vehicles will be sold globally this year.

In 2010, emerging markets accounted for more than half of all car and truck sales.  That trend is expected to continue and accelerate in 2011.

“You have the emerging markets, which continue to outperform, and are really in a pure growth stage,” said Schuster.  “You have most of the mature markets that are continuing their recovery path.”

That’s why the 12 per cent growth expected in the U.S. market will only get sales up to a relatively tepid 12-13 million units this year.  But, an 11 per cent growth rate expected for China will mean 19 million sales there.  That, Schuster says, will allow China to remain the world’s largest car market, and actually increase it’s lead over the U.S.

“As we see the emerging middle class, continue to grow, as well as the infrastructure, we could certainly see a Chinese market that is double the size of the U.S. over the next ten years.”

General Motors today announcing that it was going to bring 20 new vehicles to market in China over the next two years.  Schuster says the growing demand for vehicle in China will likely mean it will be a long time before Chinese vehicles are sold in the U.S.

The J.D. Power forecast sees sales rebounding in Russia, which had been a large growth market before the recession, and remaining strong in South America and India.  The only contractions are seen in Japan and Western Europe. 

The growth in car sales coming as world economies slowly recover from the deep recession, and some countries apply stimulus plans to push car sales forward.

“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, in a statement. “We’re seeing signals of stability and increased consumer demand for new vehicles as economic optimism increases.”

Follow Jeff Gilbert on Twitter @jefferygilbert


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