After a continuing resurgence in worldwide vehicle production in 2011 with 3% growth to reach a new record of 80.1 million vehicles (all types), 2012 is expected to be another positive year with the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) predicting a further 3% annual growth.
First indicators showed that global light vehicle production increased by an estimated 4% in the 1st quarter of 2012 to 20.4 million units but with mixed results in different regions. Japan, NAFTA, India and South Korea all put in strong growth; however, Europe, South America, and even China reported losses.
North American (NAFTA) light vehicle production surged by 17.3% year-on-year in the first quarter to March 2012 to reach 3.947 million units with the biggest increase coming in the USA where light vehicle production increased by 21.4% to 2.603 million units. Mexico fared better than Canada with a growth of 11.6% in light vehicle production to 709,573 units, with Canada reporting growth of 8.7% to reach 634,123 units.
Japan is reported to have made strong gains in the first quarter with over 25% increase in vehicle production, and South Korea the world’s fifth largest car producer, also reported continuing growth with an 8.7% increase year-on-year to 1.175 million units in the three months to March 2012.
The slowdown experienced by the Chinese automotive industry in 2011 has continued into 2012 and the China Automobile Manufacturers Association (CAAM) reported a 1.8% drop in car production to 4.78 million units in the first quarter of the year, and a 3.4% drop in vehicle sales to 4.79 million in the same period. China remains the world’s largest vehicle producer with 18.4 million vehicles produced in 2011.
In Europe the automotive market shrank by 7.7% in the 1st quarter of 2012 with a total of 3.313 million new registrations. There were starkly contrasting performances across the European Union in the quarter with Germany (+1.3%) and United Kingdom (+0.9%) expanding slightly whilst Spain dropped by 1.9% and Italy and France faced much sharper downturns at -21% and -21.6% respectively.
Most of the new EU member countries from Eastern Europe reported positive growth in vehicle sales. Germany remains the key EU country both for vehicle production and sales. The German Association of Automobile Industry (VDA) reported that passenger car production decreased by 0.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2012 to 1.495 million units, whilst sales held up in the quarter increasing by 1.4% to 773,713 units.