The global auto industry is expected to generate 85 million unit sales in 2014, representing an increase of 4% on 2013 which itself recorded a growth of 3.5% to around 82 million units sold worldwide, according to research firm IHS Automotive.
By 2018 IHS forecasts sales to break the 100 million mark driven by rising wealth in emerging markets. “In every major economy in the world we are expecting economic growth,” stated Charles Chesbrough, an economist with IHS. This is encouraging news for the global Powder Metallurgy industry which sells over 70% of all ferrous structural PM components to the automotive sector.
Following a year of a partial recovery in European vehicle sales in 2013, after 6 years of decline in new car sales, Europe should see growth of 3% in 2014 to around 14 million light vehicles according a forecast issued by Deutsche Bank. From January to December 2013 the EU market recorded sales of 11.85 million new cars, a contraction of 1.7% over 2012 which itself had seen the new car sales market shrink by 8.2%.
The UK recorded a double-digit growth (+10.8%), while Spain posted a more moderate upturn (+3.3%). Germany (-4.2%), France (-5.7%) and Italy (-7.1%) all saw their demand for new cars decline. However, despite a decline in car sales to 2.95 million units in 2013, Germany saw domestic car production increase by 1% over the entire year to 5.45 million cars (Fig. 1).
The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) reported that despite slack sales in recent years, the industry is spending record amounts on research and development. In 2012 manufacturers and suppliers spent a total of €23.5 billion (including external expenditure). Around half of all R&D spending flowed into environmental technologies with manufacturers and suppliers making a valuable contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. Work was continuing on a broad front to advance fuel-saving drivetrains, ranging from the clean diesel and the direct injection petrol engine to plug-in hybrids, purely electric vehicles, hydrogen power and fuel cells.
Russian car and light vehicle sales fell by 5.5% in 2013 to 2.78 million units following 3 years of strong growth. This leaves Russia in second place as the largest automobile market in Europe behind Germany. The Association of European Business (AEB) in Russia stated that it was expecting car sales to further decline by 1.6% in 2014 due to the ‘muted’ economic picture in the country.
Total vehicle sales in Turkey rose 10% year-on-year in 2013 to 853,378 units with car sales soaring ahead by 20% to 664,655 units, stated the Turkey Automotive Distribution Association.
The US market recorded a 7.5% increase in light vehicle sales to 15.651 million units in 2013. Deutsche Bank is forecasting US sales to increase by a further 3% to 16.03 million in 2014 and to peak at around 17 million light vehicle sales in 2017. Production in North America is also forecast to rise by 2.1 million vehicles between now and 2020 driven by new plants in the USA and Mexico. Asian car producers are expected to add more than 1 million units of that capacity (Fig. 2).
Canadian light-vehicle sales reached a record 1,739,480 units in 2013, an increase of 4% on 2012, and topping the country’s 11-year-old benchmark of 1,699,884 delivered in 2002 by 40,000 vehicles, or 2.3%.
In Brazil, the world’s fourth-largest auto market, sales declined 0.91% in 2013 from a year earlier to about 3.767 million vehicles, according to Fenabrave.
Asia continues to be main engine for growth in automobile production and China has overtaken the USA as the single largest market for all vehicle types. In 2013 China became the first country in which more than 20 million vehicles were sold in any given year. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reported that in 2013, the production and sales of passenger cars were 18,085,200 and 17,928,900 units respectively, up 16.5% and 15.7% year on year. Both sales and production hit new records. Auto sales in China are expected to increase by 9 to 11% in 2014.
South Korean automakers sold a record 8.602 million vehicles last year, a 5% increase on 2012. Sales were fuelled by steady overseas demand for vehicles which largely offset weak domestic sales.
Automobile sales in Japan, the world’s third biggest auto market, rose by just 0.1% in 2013 to 5.38 million vehicles, according to industry data. Strong sales from September countered earlier declines after green car subsidies ended in September 2012. Sales are likely to continue growing year-on-year in the first three months of 2014 but the outlook thereafter is unclear after April when the sales tax will be raised.
India reported a 10% drop in car sales to 1.8 million units in 2013, the first fall in sales in 11 years.
Posted by: Paul Whittaker, Editor Powder Metallurgy Review & ipmd.net