Despite growing concerns on the progress of the recovery of the global economy, car manufacturers in most regions have continued to increase output and are benefiting from growth in profits – Japan being the obvious exception after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. However, Japanese automakers are restoring supply chains faster than the industry originally predicted, production is catching up, and Japanese consumers are regaining confidence.
Total vehicle production in North America increased by 9.4% in the first half of 2011 (see Table 1) to 6,654,620 units. The USA reported a respectable 9.7% increase in output of cars, light vehicles and trucks to 4,259,758 units, whilst Mexico also recorded high gains (17.4%) with total vehicle output reaching 1,310,186 units. Canada broke even at 1,084,676 units. In South America Brazil car production increased by 3.7% in the first 5 months to May 2011 reaching 1,409,494 units with light vehicles adding a further 300,000 units.
In Europe, the pacemaker Germany reported a 5% increase in car production for the first 6 months of 2011 to reach 2,988,000 units and this despite a 14% fall off in production in June. The CCFA in France reported a 6.5% gain in the first half year to 1,130,249 units, and the UK recorded a 4.1% increase in car production to 662,852 units due to strong export demand which accounted for 81% of production.
There has been a slowdown in the growth of car output in China. In the first half of 2011 car production reached 9,156,000 units – an increase of just 2.48% compared with the same period of last year. Production of cars was up 5.36% to 7,044,900 units. South Korean car production benefited from increasing demand in export markets and the shortage of Japanese cars in the second quarter. Car production increased by 9.7% to 2,302,601 units with exports accounting for 1,540,772 units.