Vehicle production and sales remain buoyant in North America and Asia

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Hoeganaes Corporation

Vehicle production and sales remain buoyant in North America and Asia

11th Jul, 2012

The auto industry has been a growth leader across North America in the first half of 2012, with stronger than expected car and light truck sales and the restocking of depleted inventories by Japanese automakers buoying production gains. Demand is particularly strong in the USA which saw sales of light vehicles (LV) rise to 1,281 million in June 2012. WardsAuto states that June sales would take the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in the USA to 14.1 million units for 2012 compared with 12.5 million in 2011.


Figures issued by WardsAuto also show that light vehicle production in North America remained buoyant in the first 5 months of 2012 with an increase of 22.8% to 6,752,493 units. In the USA LV production totalled 4,350,660 units, an increase of 26.3% whilst Canada recorded an increase of 18.6% to 1,067,386, and Mexico a 12.6% increase in LV production to 1,140,863 units.

WardsAuto is also boosting its North American light-vehicle production forecast for 2012 from an earlier revision in May, whilst also trimming predicted output for 2013 and 2014. LV production now is expected to rise to 14.96 million units this year from 14.92 million forecast earlier, due to underestimating May’s output. By country, WardsAuto forecasts U.S. production at 9.83 million units for 2012, up 16.8% from 2011, 10.22 million for 2013, up 4.0%, and 10.51 million for 2014, up 2.8%. Mexico is expected to see output grow 6.9% in 2012, 2.8% in 2013 and 11.9% in 2014, when production tops 3 million units for the first time at 3.13 million. Canada, which has suffered a decline in LV capacity from two plant closures since 2009 and is facing the loss of a third factory next year, will see output fall in 2013 despite industry sales growth.

WardsAuto is trimming its 2013 LV production forecast to 15.32 million, up 2.4% from 2012. LV production for 2014 is forecast at 15.96 million, up 4.2% from 2013.

In contrast to the strong growth in automotive manufacturing in North America in the first half of 2012, automotive manufacturing in China which grew by just 0.84% in 2011 to 18,418 million, has seen a 3.19% increase in the first 5 months to May 2012 to 8,000,300 units. Of this car production totalled 6,340,700 units – an increase of 7.05%.

Manufacturing in general grew at its slowest pace in China in June raising concerns that efforts to prevent the world’s second-largest economy from slowing too quickly, are not yet succeeding.


Japan automobile production in May 2012 was recorded as 781,340 units – an increase of nearly 60% compared with the same month of 2011. Automobile production has been rising for 8 consecutive months in Japan.

Meanwhile, sales in the battered economies of Southern Europe continued to plummet in the first half of 2012. European car sales overall fell 8.4% to 1.15 million in May, the eighth consecutive monthly decline, according to industry association ACEA. New car sales in Europe are expected to decline 7% to about 12.6 million units this year from 13.6 million in 2011 and a pre-crisis peak of almost 16 million in 2007.

Italian registrations plunged 24% in June 2012 to record the worst June since 1979, according to the manufacturers' association UNRAE. French sales slid further toward an expected 10% full-year decline, and the Spanish car market shrank 12%, failing to avert a 24th straight monthly fall, according to the country's ANFAC grouping. For the first half of 2012, car registrations were down 14% in France, 20% in Italy and 8.2% in Spain.

In Germany, the region's biggest market, sales increased by 3% in June and half year sales were up 1% at 1.63 million compared with the same period in 2011. The German auto industry association, VDA, predicts full year sales at 3.1 million, stable with 2011. However, German automobile production fell by 6.3% to 2,374,798 units in the period January-May 2012 compared with the same period in 2011.

The UK is the only other major European economy to show car sales growth, increasing by 3% to 189,514 units according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Registrations were up 2.7% in the first 6 months to 1.06 million, and SMMT predicts 2012 sales will reach 1.95 million.

Posted by: Paul Whittaker, Editor,   

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